Cast Iron Closet flange - screw to sub floor?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by ssena1, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. ssena1

    ssena1 FirstTimer

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Washington DC
    I had a disagreement with my plumber and want to get some advise here to see if I went to far (he walked). He did the rough in for a bathroom renovation (and the operative word is "rough" having hacked up the newly sistered floor joists I installed after I told him to check with me before cutting any wood), and then I got it to the point where it's ready to install the fixtures (all new toilet, sink, restored clawfoot tub with all new hardware). During the demo, plumber removed the old 4" dia cast iron closet flange as it was shot. Good. Now, with the subfloor, thinset, ditra, and tile, the old depth closet flange was too short. So, I got a 4" deep one which was slightly too long and hit the horizontal pipe below, raising the flange by roughly 1/4" above the finish floor on that side. The plumber came by and I suggested cutting the flange to fit it level, and he said no need. He told me it was no problem to re-pack the flange with oakum/lead and install it at an angle, 1/4" out of level. I asked him how he would secure the flange to the subfloor, and he said you don't have to. Plumber suggested he could shim the toilet if needed, which to me sounded shoddy. I checked the toilet and it has about 1/2" clearance on the bottom for the flange and wax seal, and the flange is 3/8" thick. So, with the flange rising 1/4" on one side, the total height exceeds the toilet clearance by about 1/8" on that side. Given my experience with him during the rough in (in addition to cutting up the joists/boxing, he wanted to use exposed PVC waste line for the clawfoot tub(!) and I had to strongly encourage him to read the specs for the hardware http://www.signaturehardware.com/product1231 and he finally figured out how it works), and the fact that everything I have read here and elsewhere says the key to a trouble free and long lasting closet flange install is to secure the flange to the floor with stainless or brass screws, and, since the reason we had to install 4 new sistered joists and all new blocking was severe rot from leaks, I wasn't comfortable with his approach and decided to get a second opinon on the flange. I called the supplier and he didn't have any 3" depth flanges. I explained the problem, and he said to grind the 4" one down so it would fit. I ground it down about 1/4" where the bottom of the flange sleeve hit the horizontal pipe going into the stack. I kept the edge on the bottom of the flange, which I assume is to hold the oakum/lead. The flange now sits level on the finished tile floor and I got two large brass screws to secure it (did not install at this point). Plumber came by today and kind of freaked out because I didn't listen to him. I told him I called the supplier, etc, and he said I shouldn't have done that and if I wanted the thing screwed down, I should just do it myself. I said, ok, and asked if I should do that first, or if anything he needed to do to prep for the oakum/lead. He said I obviously know enough to do this and I should just finish the job, as he grabbed his torch and started to leave. I followed him and we talked about it. He said he has too much work and can't waste time with me as this will take too long. I was taken aback as he pulled the permit and did the rough in, and before we started back up to finish, I even told him to review everything and let me know if any additional cost (some of the fixtures are complex so I wanted to be fair). He told me he has too many jobs he is behind on, and left. So, as I look for a plumber to finish the job, I don't want to get in the same situation with the flange and was hoping someone here could advise as to if it is indeed "ok" (or better?) to have the cast iron flange screwed to the floor, or if there is any reason why doing this would be a bad thing. If it is somehow wrong, or bad, fine, no screws. But I have invested a lot because of past leaks and doesn't make sense to me to install the way he wanted. I will also check other suppliers for a 3" deep cast iron flange, but I don't see any online. Sorry for the length and ranty nature of this post...I am frustrated to say the least! Let me know if photos are needed/helpful.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Photo's that are 800 pixels or less would be nice.

    There is nothing wrong with screwing a flange to the floor.
    If you have to shim the toilet to fit over a flange, then it was done wrong.
  3. ssena1

    ssena1 FirstTimer

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Thanks. That's what I was hoping to hear. Using shims just doesn't sound right after spending so much time to get level joists, flat subfloor, tile, etc. Here are some pictures showing the flange rotated as it would be angled if it wasn't ground down, the flange flush (rotated so it drops into place) and a couple of the overall situation with the flange. You'll see the flange has two recessed screw holes - that is where I plan to screw it down. IMGP3531.jpg IMGP3533.jpg IMGP3538.jpg IMGP3537.jpg IMGP3539.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  4. ssena1

    ssena1 FirstTimer

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Washington DC
    here's one more, from above. IMGP3534.jpg
  5. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

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  6. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,244
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    You were right in that the flange should be flat on the floor.

    He was right in that a cast iron flange which is leaded onto cast iron pipe does not need to be screwed to the floor.

    It's unfortunate that between the two of you it was unable to be worked out.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,889
    Location:
    New England
    A CI structure of drains is usually strong enough that it doesn't absolutely need to be screwed down, but it certainly doesn't hurt and could help. The flange should be flat on top of the finished floor when installed, though.
  8. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,328
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I think Jim has hit it exactly right. A flange that is leaded in to the closet bend will stay put on its own, but for the price of 4 or 5 #12 stainless steel screws, why not go the extra mile even if it is likely unnecessary? Screwed or not, a flange should be flat and level on the top of the finished floor. Anything else is certainly not a professional installation.
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