Help with Toilet Flange

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Britana, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. Britana

    Britana New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Fairfax, VA
    Greetings all.

    First off, thanks Terry for creating and maintaining this forum. This is my first post, but I read a lot of what is posted here to get ready to replace a toilet. After reading your reviews, I went with the Toto Ultramax II with Sanagloss. I wanted the Soriee, but my water supply was only 6 inches off center and I don't think I could squeeze it in.

    I am a novice at plumbing. To make a long story short, our toilet started to emit a sewer gas smell, was "leaking" around the caulked base, and (after looking closely) leaking into the ceiling below. I decided to pull it and, bluntly, it wasn't pretty under there. It appeared that the wax ring had failed and I had hoped that was the end of it. But, after studying some more, I found my flange (the top) is sitting 3/4" below the floor level and the wax ring was a standard thickness - I'm surprised it lasted the 7 years it did! The best I can figure is that the flange was roughed in before the ceramic tile was laid and no one bothered to fix it.

    So, I understand that I need to raise the flange so that the bottom is roughly at floor level or the top is about 1/4" above floor level. I went to Lowes and purchased the only flange enxtender kit they had - made by Oatey. The link is: http://www.oatey.com/Channel/Shared/ProductGroupDetail/720/Closet Flange Spacer Kit.html

    If I use this kit, including the rubber washer, and the extender flange, the total combination rises to about floor level. If I add another set of washer and extender flange, I am about 1/2" high. I don't like either of these solutions to be honest since one seems too low and one too high. I also understand I can simply "stack" the flanges on top of each other and have read to either use PVC adhesive (the purple stuff) to secure them or to use silicon caulk between them. My first questions is which would be the best solution?

    Second, this kit seems to indicate that I should use the second washer between the flange and the toilet. I am inclined to use a wax ring instead. Is this a good idea?

    Thanks,

    Eric
  2. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,756
    Location:
    New York, NY
    There was a time on this forum where one of the master plumbers highly-recommended using spacers, provided you sealed between them with caulk (even if the instructions said you didn't need it), and from my reading there is still a cadre on here that thinks they are the way to go. I just reread a post on the subject from like 2008 from a plumber who had installed literally thousands of toilets, in which he said that that is the way to do it.

    The more current teaching on here is Terry's method, which is just to use the two-wax-ring method. I have seen him say quite a bit that in his experience, the spacers often just lead to a leak, and that he is much more comfortable just dropping in two wax rings. If you're really down 3/4", that's no small amount, but a wax ring on the bottom, with another wax ring stacked on top, should probably do the trick.

    I notice that there is also a divergent opinion on here about whether or not to use a ring with the built-in plastic "horn" or "funnel" or "flange". That's the same thing called different things. The consensus seems to be that if you are using one wax ring, the funnel doesn't add anything and actually could be a disadvantage. However, where stacking rings, it seems that our leading pros agree that you use a horn-less ring on the bottom and one with the horn on the top. That makes sure the one on the top stays in position on top of the bottom ring and doesn't slide around too much when you start compressing the toilet down. It also seems to be the consensus that you never use two rings with horns; you are asking trouble by creating the little chamber between the two horns.

    Now this doesn't mean that I haven't seen some posters say that doing this is a "hack job" or "ghetto plumbing". Both characterizations can be found on here. But if Terry says it's the way to go for a DIY-er who wants to end up with a leak-free seal where the flange is below the finished floor, then I think the discussion is over.

    So, to review: you can chuck that flange-extender (or return it), and go get yourself one good wax ring without a horn and one with, and go to town, placing the one without the horn on the flange below the floor level and then putting the thick one with the flange on top. I have seen it said on here that you can't get a thick one without the horn. That's actually untrue, because they are available. (Fluidmaster makes one, for example.) However, the only thick ones you will find at Lowe's or Home Depot come with the horn.

    And remember, the pros put the ring (or in this case both rings) on the floor and place the toilet down vertically on top, rather than trying to stick one to the toilet first and then putting the toilet down, regardless of what the toilet installation instructions say. Just be sure that you have dry-fit the toilet first and decided where you will have to shim to make it level and rocking-free, so that you are not sliding it around on top of the wax while you are trying to decide where to shim it.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,233
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A #10 thick wax ring is the same thickness as two conventional wax rings, (one with the funnel). I have never used "extenders" or "spacers".
  4. Britana

    Britana New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Fairfax, VA
    Thanks for the replies and thanks WJ for your effort in consolidating the advice here. I received A LOT of conflicting advice outside the forum, including a salesman at Lowes that emphatically stated that I should just stack flange extenders and screw them down without any sealant between them. In the end, the consensus was (as you’d expect) to stack wax rings and is what I did.

    I thought I’d document the project here in case it is helpful to others in the future and in case anyone sees any flaws in what I have done. You can see what I had to start with in the picture below and it sure looks to me like the wax ring failed to the front, probably from being too small.

    photo a.JPG

    After I cleaned things up, this is what the flange looked like. Note the screws that are completely corroded because they were not stainless. I managed to clean the heads enough to ease them out and replaced them with #14 x 3†brass screws. The final flange after I replaced the screws is also shown.

    compos1.jpg

    I dry fit the toilet and checked for level, which was perfect. At least the floor was substantially level as a bright spot in this project. There was the slightest of wobble front to back (maybe 1/16-1/8 inch), but very minor. I decided that if it persisted after the final setting, I’d shim (and I did).


    Here is a picture of the stacked wax ring set up. The bottom is a “large†ring with the flange and the top is a standard ring without flange. I might have used a different combination or larger ring if I had been able to find them, but the selection was surprisingly bad at the big box stores and our good suppliers were all closed by noon. I decided to go forward with this set-up.

    photo f.JPG

    After I set the toilet it really “settled in†nicely. At first it was about 1†off the floor but very gentle pressure was all it took to collapse the rings and settle it down nicely on the floor. Fingers crossed that the seal under there is good!

    The front/back wobble persisted so I shimmed both sides near the back as shown. I figure I’ll caulk up to the shims and use them as a breaking point so the back remains open and will allow any leakage to show.

    photo g.JPG

    Here’s a picture of the near final install. Note I laid toilet paper on the floor to check for any leakage and but for a few drops of sweat, it remains dry! I still need to saw the closet bolts and cap them.

    photo h.JPG

    Thanks again all,

    Eric
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    Terry recommends using the one with the funnel on the top rather than the bottom. This tends to help keep wax from squishing in verses out. As long as it flushes fine, you should be fine. On some flanges, the horn on the wax ring gets compressed and closes off. If it fit in without that happening, the risk is small. Some flanges taper down faster, and it can be a problem.
  6. Britana

    Britana New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Fairfax, VA
    Unfortunately, it's done and seems to be ok so if there is a problem, I'll consider that on the redo. BTW, I'm also a "retired" DoD engineer...and very far from a pro! Thanks for the comment.

    Edit: I see now I didn't read WJ's post close enough, which reiterates what you said. :(.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  7. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,756
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Thanks for documenting everything! As Jim said, if it flushes without any trouble (i.e. it's not blocked by wax), you should be fine. Congratulations and thanks for posting the pics and description.
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