Removed 50 year old toilet and the flange situation is bad....

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Kaylw022, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Kaylw022

    Kaylw022 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    I just removed a 50 year old toilet and the flange situation was not what I expected. It looks like concrete or something around the flange. There is some material all over the bolts, but it does not look anything like pics of old wax rings. Some of the material is very hard, some very dry and chipped away, some looks like concrete. Is there anything I can do with this or is it time for a professional?

    flange pic.jpg
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    hard to tell with the cloth over it, but, it is probably hardened plumber's putty. IF so, it will scrape, or chip, away from the flange and floor.
  3. Kaylw022

    Kaylw022 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    Thanks for the tip, it might be plumbers putty... I took the rag out to take another pic and more of it started to crumble, even the parts I thought were really solid. Another pick below. If it is just a lot of plumbers putty am I ok chipping it all off and trying to see what's under that? Why would they have ever used so much plumbers putty in the first place - anything I need to worry about when trying to install the new? Appreciate any additional insights.

    flange3.jpg
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,074
    Location:
    Maine
    You gotta get all that old putty and crud off the flange and then you can better see what shape it is in. If it's broken there are a good many repair flanges that will work.
  5. Kaylw022

    Kaylw022 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    Do you think they used all that putty instead of a wax ring?
  6. Winslow

    Winslow Plumber

    Messages:
    450
    Location:
    Hawaii
    It is indeed plumbers puddy, thats the way it was done before using wax.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The bolts appear to be in good shape, so the flange is probably also. They used that much putty because it was cheap, and that is the only way they knew how to do it. We didn't have wax rings in the 50s and 60s. Anythign that chips off is putty, if it doesn't chip then it is cast iron. You will NOT hurt the cast iron.
  8. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,142
    Location:
    South*East
    I remember when wax seals weren't preformed. The wax came in a can that had to be applied to the bottom of the bowl with a putty knife.

    John
  9. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,074
    Location:
    Maine
    Yep and plastic gloves hadn't been invented either so it made a helluva mess
  10. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Until you get all that crud cleaned off so you can see the flange, it's just guesswork to give any real advice. If the flange is still in good shape, then you won't need to do much. But, if the flange is rusted badly, broken, or in otherwise bad condition, then a new flange might well be in order. My basic thought is to do whatever is necessary so as not to have a temporary fix that won't be good for at least another 50 years. This is not the time to do a half a$$ job to save a few bucks just to get by. A lot of repairs can be DIY, but if removing the old flange and installing a new one is necessary, then a pro might be the wisest way to go.
  11. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    I would hit it with a hammer.

    You're not going to mess up the flange unless it is so rough that it needs replacing anyways.
  12. Pipewrench

    Pipewrench In the Trades

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    Jackson MS
    Another problem you appear to have is they tiled around the toilet base. A new toilet won't match up. It also looks like the top of the flange is flush with the finished floor. You won't get a good wax seal. Some people will tell you to just double the wax ring but that is what I call "ghetto plumbing". Plus the toilet will probably rock.
  13. Kaylw022

    Kaylw022 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    Appreciate all the advice so far, please keep it coming. I got most of the old putty off and the flange looks like it's in good shape, but the bolts don't appear to be anything I could remove. The bolts also look good, but not so sure about reusing those....

    Here are some updated pics, appreciate any advice on next steps.

    flange 5.jpg flange 7.jpg
  14. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    It does appear the flange is flush with the floor which is not really proper, but a thick wax ring would make up that slight difference. What bothers me is the flange bolts. The appear to be bent, and old flange bolts seem to me to almost always be corroded. If you can get flange cleaned off around the bolts, you may find they can be removed and replaced. Flanges usually are slotted to allow the flange bolts to slide in. Otherwise, I would be inclined to remove the flange, fill in the floor, and have a new flange installed on top of the finished floor where it really should be. I agree the flange itself looks to be in pretty good shape.
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    If you're not redoing the tile, good luck finding a toilet that will cover that old hole...
  16. Kaylw022

    Kaylw022 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    I think I made some progress... I was able to scrape away some more putty and removed the bolts so putting in new ones will work. I measured and the flange is 3/8 in. above the concrete floor beneath the tiles. There are actually two layers of "vinyl" tiles (combined measure 1/4 in), one an easy peel and stick I put down a few years ago and another that appears to have been put down a little while back. The tiles also seem like they would pop off pretty easy if I wanted to remove enough around the base to allow the new toilet to sit directly on the concrete. If I wanted to tile all the way under the toilet around the current flange, would I then have a height issue with the flange only being 1/8 in above the surrounding tile? Or am I best off just remove some tile, sit the toilet on the concrete and tiling back around the toilet? Appreciate any adive you all might have.

    flange 10.jpg
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The bolts are installed in slots in the flange. They will slide sideways once you remove the putty from the slot. The flange is on top of the floor so the bolts are not "secured" in the concrete.
  18. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    The problem is that there is NO way it will ever look like anything but a hack job if you don't redo the floor so that the tile is flat up to the flange and all the joints line up the way they should. If you have identical tile to match, you could build up the existing hole and redo the tile around the toilet, but it will always be noticeable as the existing tile is faded/worn.
    If you want to have a nice bathroom, now is the time to take the entire floor down all the way and start fresh.

    Despite what anyone tells you, a toilet will seal perfectly fine with the flange flush to the finished floor. The wax ring fills the difference in height, which is normally less than 1/4". There's are a few millions homes working fine that way to prove it.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  19. Pipewrench

    Pipewrench In the Trades

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    Jackson MS
    Tile up to the flange and install a pvc flange that drops into the pipe and you tighten up three alans screws that pushes out a rubber gasket holding it in place and your flange will be at the RIGHT height. Real easy to install.
  20. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    I wouldn't try that on a pipe that was as ragged looking at his does. A rubber gasket or o-ring needs a smooth surface to seal against.

    After having seen more than one cracked PVC flange, I would prefer iron on C.I. pipe or the stainless steel ring on PVC too.
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