Broken Flange bolt. Not sure how to proceed.

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by latenight, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. latenight

    latenight New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Maryland
    Hello all!
    This is my first post on this site, thanks in advance for all help provided. I am very new when it comes to toilet removal, so I hope my pictures clear up my confusion on part names!

    My toilet was rocking recently, so I found online that I should tighten the two bolts that secure the toilet to the ground. I removed the plastic caps from each bolt, and had a different problem with each side. When facing the toilet, on the left side, the cap removed easily and pulled out half of the bolt I was supposed to tighten, with the bolt head stuck in between the plastic cap and an inner plastic "cap protector?" (the remains of this bolt in pictures 1 and 2 the red circles bolt on the left). When facing the toilet, on the right side, the plastic cap was not secured at all, and had no inner "cap protector". When I just lifted this cap off, the bolt head was severely rusted and would not budge - nor could I fit a wrench around it... After significant WD-40 and a lot of scraping off of the grime, I was able to fit a wrench around the bolt head, only to discover that the bolt continually turns in circles freely, but does not unscrew (nor tighten). You can see this bolt in pictures 1 and 2 with the red circle on the right. I was able to get the toilet up and over this bolt by lifting it at an angle to get over the bolt head. Having only seen a flange before in pictures while researching this problem, I found something vaguely similar. The flange is visible in all pictures, and is after much scraping and cleaning. I am no expert on anything with metals, pipes, or plumbing, but it seems that everything is very rusted. As I scraped away the remnants of the wax ring, it seemed as though pieces of metal were coming up with it! At this point, I can make out similar holes and slots that I see in flanges online. I was told by a guy at a hardware store (before lifting the toilet), that it was likely a broken flange. I thought I could examing the flange and see if parts of it were cracked, but I do not see anything wrong with the flange (other than it being severely rusted, which may be cause for replacement?).

    Anyways, where I stand now is asking for advice on what to do. I guess first would be 1.) how to remove these screws from the flange. From what I had read online, I thought the were designed to just slide out to the side... From what I can tell, each screw is in a round hole, with no opening on the side to slide the screws out. Additionally, the remaining part of the screw on the left does not budge at all (even with WD-40, and trying my hardest to get a good grip on it with pliers). The full screw on the right just keeps turning and does not pull out at all (horribly reminiscent of my stripped drain plug on my motorcycle a while back...). I figure these screws will need to be replaced at the very least, so any advice there is helpful. 2.) If I get these screws out, is all I need new screws and a wax ring? Or should I be looking at removing the flange and installing a new one? I also do not see how this flange is secured to the floor. I do not see any holes or screws besides the two sticking out that secure the toilet to the flange. Could the flange be cemented or soldered to the floor? Or are the screws hidden?

    Again thanks for all advice in advance. I know it is annoying in forums to have questions repeated, but I did search to see if there were similar issues, and nothing quite aligned, or at least in a manner I understood!
    Pictures 1 and 2 have the screws/bolts that secure the toilet to the flange highlighted in red. I tried to highlight the holes/openings that looked similar to the flange pictures I saw online in blue. The remaining pictures are just different angles without highlighting to give better views. I am happy to post more pictures if needed.





    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,266
    Location:
    New England
    That type of flange generally has two ways to hold the bolts...you can see the slots at the front and back. If it was rotated 90-degrees, you'd have used the bolts slid into those slots. The other way is with a concentric T-shaped slot, which is likely what you have the bolts in now. To get the bolts out, you'd need to clean up the T-slot and slide it to the wide end at the T, then pull it out.

    If the flange is intact, you can get those bolts out that way. If not, then, it may be easiest to cut them off flush with a hacksaw or grind them with a grinder, then, install a repair ring, and use the slots in the repair ring to hold the new bolts. Pros tend to use two sets of nuts and washers...one to lock the bolt to the flange, and the second set to hold the toilet down. By anchoring the bolt to the flange, when it comes time to remove it, it won't spin. Also, chose brass or stainless steel bolts and nuts, and you won't have that problem. If you go with a repair ring, you'll need to clean things off more, seal the repair ring to the existing one and drill holes to screw it down. Again, use brass or SS, so it won't rust away. If you search on repair ring, you'll see some pictures of what I'm talking about.
  3. latenight

    latenight New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Maryland
    Thanks for the response Jim! I read that you are "not a pro", but I do appreciate you passing on the things you have learned in your own experiences!

    I cleaned up the area around the bolts best I could, but they seem to be in just a regular bolt hole with no way to slide them out... (I couldnt find examples of "concentric T-shape slots" via Google search, but I am sure that the holes my bolts are in are just regular circles with no opening to slide bolts out.

    The flange does seem to be intact, oddly enough, despite some rust and some pieces of iron grating away. But still no luck on getting the bolts out... These bolts, by the way, are the ones that come through the toilet to secure it to the ground. I still do not understand how the flange is secured to the ground...

    Unless anyone has seen this sort of set up before and has any clues, I'm thinking your second suggestion is my only option? If I cut off the bolts so they are even with the flange, the repair ring is installed ontop of the old flange, and I secure the repair ring into the ground by just drilling new holes through the old flange and into the concrete? Would that be what you mean "seal the repair ring to the existing one"? I did find pictures of various types of repair rings, and they do seem to be just drilled through the old flange, I just dont see how that makes a solid seal (unless a wax ring ontop seals the repair rings as well?).

    Again, thanks for your help!
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,298
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If you can't put new closet bolts in the old hole, then move the flange around, and use the slots to hold the new bolts.
    You will want to secure the flange to the floor. If the flange isn't going to work for you, you can pick up a repair flange to secure bolts to the floor.

    [​IMG]
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,045
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Look at your bottom picture. About 2" below the right hand bolt you will see a "squarish" opening. THAT is where the bolt goes in and out. Between that point and the bolt is a "slot" to slide the bolt. Once it is cleaned out the bolt should slide to the square and remove. The new one goes in the same way. 180 degrees from that "square" opening is another one for the other bolt. Do the same thing there.
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