Cracked Flange/Pipe Repair Options

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Jeff_08, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Hi everyone. I have a problem with the PVC (I believe) flange that's in one of my bathrooms. I had some trouble with the floor being uneven and had to route out a ledge from a template I traced to get the toilet to sit without the slight wobble (very, very slight but it made me nervous). I have installed maybe 4-5 toilets before so it wasn't completely new to me. I went to tighten the bolts and when I felt that I should stop turning, there was a slight wiggle if I pushed the front from side to side which may be due to the wood floor underneath which I understand isn't the greatest but it's already there so I don't plan on removing it. I went to the local hardware store to pick up some silicone and talked to two of the guys there that seemed to be ex-plumbers I'd guess. They said the toilet should not move at all once it's tightened down and that I need to keep tightening the bolts even after I mentioned that I felt uncomfortable with more turns and possibly cracking the base. They said it is tougher than I think and to keep going until it feels like the wrench won't turn much more. Well, I should have just left it alone because I did tighten them more and the wiggle was still there, and then all of a sudden I heard a loud POP sound :eek: - scared the heck out of me but it wasn't the porcelain. I pulled the toilet off to double check everything and the flange was busted. The tightening pulled the edges up and cracked not only where the slot is but partially inside the area below there which goes down into the floor. I believe it's worse than just using some sort of flange spanner to repair it since part of the tapered area below there is cracked. Keep in mind that I am assuming this is beyond the DIY type of job and that I might need a plumber, but wanted to check here first in case there's an easier solution. The toilet is on the upper floor with a finished ceiling below. Can the crack just be glued with either PVC primer/cement or polyurethane glue and then just use a spanner to fix the slot area, or what about those flange replacement kits from Oatey (cast iron replacement flange or the twist and seal types of kits). I understand that those aren't as permanent as having a plumber come and probably cut the lower level ceiling open to replace the piping up to the broken flange (is that likely?), but if it would be good enough to hold for quite a few years then that might be an option. I would prefer not to spend a ton of money having this somewhat decent repair done but if I have to then I have to, but I wanted to get a few opinions before deciding. Those Oatey kits seal up with a gasket that can be tightened without cutting anything else open for access so I would guess they should hold for quite a while unless disturbed or defective. Do any plumbers use these, or would they likely just replace the whole area up to the flange? Thanks for any help, and I should have trusted my instincts and not tightened those bolts further, but I can't go back at this point. It's making me sick just thinking about the added repair expense I might have just created.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Location:
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    Can you post a picture? Its better than 1,000 words!
  3. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    That's true - I should have posted one in the first place. I just took one of the cracked area after lifting it up with a wrench to show the actual crack. The piping/flange is original to the 35 or so year old house. Don't mind the gunk down in there.

    Attached Files:

  4. krow

    krow Plumber

    Messages:
    906
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    1) That looks like ABS piping

    2) I would recommend to call a plumber in . In some cases, a plumber with experience, will be able to remove the flange without opening the ceiling downstairs or ripping up your floor.

    he can take pieces of the flange out by breaking then with channel locks. Then he may be able to place a cut (slowly and carefully) on the exterior part of the flange hub, deep enough that the hub is cut, but not penetrating the pipe. Then he can start chipping with a screwdriver/chisel and hammer between the hub and the pipe. The glue will pull apart and a new flange can be installed.

    This procedure needs care and know-how. It doesn't always work. Sometimes the pipe may split. I have been able repair these 98% of the time

    3) If you fasten the flange along the entire circumference to the floor (primarily where the bolts fit) Theoretically, a wax gaket with a horn can be placed to dirct the water to the drain , bypassing the crack. This will not help if you ever get a blockage in the drain line because it will start to leak at the crack. (not recommended.)


    I would say that option #2 is your safest bet
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  5. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    I have been assuming it'll be a plumber's job, but wanted to get a few opinions before going that route. I have another bathroom to use in the meantime so it's nothing that needs to be done immediately. Even if the horned wax ring can bypass the crack, would sewer gas vent into the room through the crack? This is one of the reasons I was looking at the Oatey flange replacement kits, because the gasket that seals them to the inside of the drain pipe would be past the crack from what I can tell, but any backup issues (have never had any so far) would probably be a concern with the Oatey parts. Thanks for the help so far.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    What is the I.D. measurement of that pipe? The picture was a little too close to tell... LOL
  7. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Yeah I can take more pictures if necessary but that one was just to show the crack which is hard to see if I zoomed out. The inside diameter is 3" and from the top of the flange it drops approximately 3.5" before the curve begins. I've only used horned wax rings based on recommendations and it appears that the wax would actually cover the cracked area, but I'd prefer to repair this in a way that won't give me trouble in a few years.
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Location:
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    Being 3" you definitely want a flange that goes on the outside of the pipe. I'm going to guess its actually a street elbow coming up to the flange. I wiuld use a 4X3 ABS flange with a stainless steel ring similar to the Oatey # 43494 or, # 43496 I believe big blue box has them now. At least they do around here!

    [​IMG]

    I would use a plain wax ring as the horn types actually create more leaks than they ever cured.
    Use #12 screws stainless steel or, brass long enoughto grip through all the floor and subflooring.
    Tighten the toilet enough so that it doesn't move then shim to prevent rocking, and caulk around the base.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  9. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Thanks. I'll look into this a little more and decide if I might be able to try it myself. I've just never run into something like this and usually stick with the copper sweating and basic things like that so this would be pretty new to me. If it's too much work I might just find a good plumber to do it. Thanks for the great responses. I just found this site a few days ago but there's a lot of info and resources here.
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Location:
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    Worst case scenario is that you will end up cutting the ceiling below.
  11. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    That wouldn't be too bad as I can patch it myself but not having to do that would be ideal. It's funny that there is the debate over the horned rings vs. the plain wax because the people I've talked to seem to favor one over the other and the response isn't too consistent but I would trust what you say and go with the plain wax next time. I just installed one yesterday with the horn lol, but I've never noticed a problem with them except for maybe 10 years or so later if they start to leak. I've also had problems with the new bolts that you can buy for the flange compared to older ones that are thicker and have wider flanges (not sure if that's the term for the wide flat bolt head) than the newer ones. Maybe they have different types but these came with the ring.
  12. krow

    krow Plumber

    Messages:
    906
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The ones that come with the ring are brass coated and not brass, They will eventually rust into place
  13. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    You definitely want to get 5/16" closet bolts made of brass. The kind I use come with a tinnerman nut that keeps them locked in place making it very easy to set a toilet.
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,230
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    flange

    There is absolutely no way you can use that flange, even by using a 'horn" wax ring or anything else. The integrity of the bolt slot is gone so when you tighten the closet bolt all you will be doing is bending that broken section up, just like you are doing with the wrench and eventually it will completely snap off. Call a plumber and he will make the best repair, usually by peeling the old flange off, if he is a good plumber.
  15. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    I haven't ever had to call a plumber before so I'm asking around for references. I guess this might be beyond a DIY project for me since I don't have a ton of experience with ABS/PVC parts, but everything else I usually try to tackle myself so I have all sorts of tools and equipment. While they're doing this repair I'll probably just have them install the toilet, but I'm guessing this will be at least a few hundred dollars ($300 - 500?) to fix if anyone has a rough idea.
  16. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    7,450
    Location:
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    You're in the ballpark... Prices vary widely across the country in different market areas.
  17. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Yeah, I just wanted to get a rough estimate so that I won't be too shocked, and I noticed some companies claim to give the price up front so there are no surprises. I do fine woodworking and detailed things like that - would it be really tough for someone with limited experience to attempt this repair? If it's just slowly removing/chipping away the old part and then solvent welding the new flange on, that doesn't sound impossible but I know it's easier said than done. If it was mentioned that "good" plumbers could peel away the old flange and repair without tearing out the ceiling below, then it sounds more complicated than I am thinking.
  18. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
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    Well Its hard to say... Its not impossible for you to do it, But, If your not comfortable its probably a good idea to hire a pro. Like I said worst case scenario is opening up below and it may come to that even with a plumber... I have had it go both ways... I certainly like it better from the top but ABS can be brittle and crack easily as you have seen.
  19. Jeff_08

    Jeff_08 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Yeah, and it's all original to the house which is around 35 years old so that could be another issue. I'll see if there are some good plumbers in the area that could do a nice job with something like this. Thanks for the advice.
  20. rudytheplbr

    rudytheplbr 36 Journeyman Plbr

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Ketchikan, Alaska
    Cracked Toilet Flange

    One more possible solution: cut the flange at floor level (even with the floor), get a stainless ring closet flange, take the ring off the unit, place and screw the ring to the floor, use 5/16" closet bolts and a horned wax ring for seal, tighten down until the bowl doesn't rock, hook it up and you're good to go.
    One thing about rocking bowls, it everything seems tight, you may consider using some Plaster of Paris to stop the bowl from rocking. Mix up some and finger it between the bowl and the floor, when it sets, finger in some silicone caulking to cover the P.o P.
    Have fun,
    Rudy
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