Sewer Odor, installed new toilet, replaced wax ring twice, still have odor

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by jaysamaha, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Hi. I'm new to the forum and have read threads that have similar problems but none seem to exactly fit.

    I replaced an old toilet (probably from early 80s) with a new one. Everything seemed to work out well, but later on that day I detected a sewer odor. I figured that I must not have gotten a good seal with the wax ring so I bought a thicker ring (with an attached gasket) and took care to make sure it was on right. I put down the toilet over the flange and pressed down. Everything seemed to seal up nice and I there is no rocking whatsoever. There is no water present around the base of the toilet and everything seems to be in working order. Despite this, I am still detected a slight odor. (Everything is level as well from the flange, to the seat, to the tank).

    A couple thoughts:

    1. The flange bolt caps are off and once I cut the bolts down and install them the odor will dissipate.
    2. There is a slight gap near the rear of the toilet where a tile is missing. There is no water coming from there but perhaps a small enough gap for gas to escape?
    3. The toilet flange is old and rusted. Perhaps I need to intall a new flange?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,051
    Location:
    New England
    If the old toilet leaked, it could have permeated the flooring or subflooring. With that gap, there's nothing to stop it. IOW, it may not be from any leak.

    Where is the top of the toilet flange in relation to the top of the finished floor? That is what determines how thick of a wax ring (or two of them stacked) may be required.
  3. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Are you saying that the odor could be coming from the flooring and not the toilet?

    The old toilet did not leak (water or gas) I don't think. I pushed some wax into the gap before setting the new wax ring down. I used an Oatey jumbo wax ring. Is it possible to need two of these or add another regular sized one?

    The toilet flange sits above the finished floor. (1/4" or 1/2 " maybe, I'm not home now so that's just an estimate).

    Thanks for your help!
  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,296
    Location:
    IL
    Tell us more about that gap. Are you just talking about the caulk/sealant that is visible at the junction of the toilet base and the tile? If so, that should not be causing your problem.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  5. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Arizona
    #1 is a clue. Repair #2, replace/do #3.

    Your wax ring is on top of the flange. I'm willing to bet that the gas is escaping from under the flange, traveling around the bowl bottom and escaping through the missing tile gap and the flange bolt / toilet caps. Since the closet flange is rusted there is no sense pushing wax all around the closet flange and in the empty spaces around the closet flange bolts.

    I would replace the toilet closet flange, use new screws to hold it down, and get the right size closet flange bolts from Ace Hardware, along with a new wax ring. If I couldn't get the same tile, I'd at least fill it up and even with the rest of the tiles with cement. If you don't have any cement your neighbour may have some in an open bag. Otherwise you will need to spend the $5 for a 50 pound bag at your Home Depot or Lowes. No, you don't want to cement all th way to the closet flange. You will need to make some sort of barrier to hold back the cement as it dries, like using a jig saw to cut a round piece of wood that can follow the contour of the rest of the tiles and be the same distance from the flange. Best of luck.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkU9qrbIb2g
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC8SA2ZNG48 Hopefully that's not what you have.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  6. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Yes. The gap is very slight at the base of the toilet and the tile. It's like the tile dips down in that area.
  7. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Wallijonn,

    Thanks for the tips. I watched both links. The second link is more like what I have. A cast iron flange that is rusted but the flange bolts and the slots they fit in are intact.

    If I need to remove the cast iron flange with a hammer and cold chisel, what would happen if I damaged the cast iron pipe?

    Could I add one of those super rings from Lowe's on top of the rusted flange?
  8. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    246
    Location:
    Florida
    I had one toilet that occasionally would have sewer odors. I replaced wax ring and still has issue. Seems a very slight rocking would break the seal. I went with a saniseal instead of wax ring and problem was solved. http://sanisealgasket.com
  9. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Thanks. I'll give that a try, since it seems like the easiet solution. My best guess though is that I'm gonna have to replace the closet flange.
  10. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Arizona
    You do NOT !!!!!!!!!!!!! want to crack the cast iron pipe. If you do - imagine the plumber having to dig down about a foot, so that he can put a cast pipe cutter around it. That typically means cutting a concrete block in my house, ripping out wood flooring for you, maybe removing a joist, etc. Think at least $500 to repair.

    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/sho...-and-broken-cast-iron-flange-in-concrete-slab

    Cast iron is usually easy to drill. See the picture in that link? There are at least four places where they can be drilled. Just drill slowly and methodically (you don't want the drill to go into the wood, for example.) Once you get a straight row of holes a slight lift from below the flange should break it off, or you can it with a screw driver blade between the holes. A few light taps and it should shatter. Once you have it in two or four pieces it should be easy to crow bar, or pry bar, it out. The drill method will take you a lot longer, maybe 20 minutes to half an hour. But it should be a lot safer. Make absolutely sure that you are wearing eye protection! Spending $10 for safety goggles is a lot cheaper than paying thousands of dollars to try to save your eyesight. Work slowly. Drill holes no larger than 1/8" - 1/4" wide at a time, get them as close together as possible. Then hit straight down through where the holes make a straight line.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IKEHPo9AD0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRGr_y4eqV4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIa1sTMenXc (Have a "real" face mask when taking a torch to lead. Dispose of the lead responsibly. Ventilate the room.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfbLeXFucE8 The guy's an ANIMAL! You should feel better after watching him hammer and not break the cast pipe. Oh mama! When he starts to hammer the flange in, I cringed. I would have used a rubber mallet. Nothing like experience to tell you how hard to hit, eh?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxhsJyNy_Ho Imagine you doing this!

    Watch ALL the closet flange videos on YouTube. There's some great tips to be learned. (Why not to silicone the toilet base, why you shouldnn't use a wax seal with the plastic funnel, etc.)
  11. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Thanks for all the help!

    I am going to start this afternoon by simply replacing the wax ring with one of those green sani-seal rings. If I still detect the odor I am going to replace the flange.

    If I need to replace the flange and I drill the old cast iron flange, is there a special type of bit I should use?

    When I install a new flange, should I get one that compresses outside the cast iron pipe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC8SA2ZNG48 or inside the cast iron pipe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jagk5-HjopI?
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,679
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If the was seal was done correctly NONE of the options 1, 2, or 3, have anything to do with the odor. You may just be looking in the wrong place for the source of the odor.
  13. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    The only thing I changed in the bathroom was the toilet. The sewer smell isn't like rotten eggs (i've had that smell before in the basement) but more like an outhouse or porta potty. What else could that be besides the toilet?
  14. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Arizona
    ?

    He did say that "the toilet flange is old and rusted," that "a tile is missing," and when the bowl caps are installed the smell dissipates. How is it not the closet flange?

    The first question is, "how rusted is the flange?" The second question is, "Is there a gap under the flange that the wax is not sealing? Third question is, "Is the bowl cracked?" When he said, " I put down the toilet over the flange and pressed down," the question is, did he press down too hard?, did he wiggle the bowl down onto the wax seal, or not?

    Jay, before you do the remedial work, how about a picture of the flange after you remove the wax seal?

    If it's not too bad, you may be able to slip this over the old flange: I put down the toilet over the flange and pressed down.[h=1]PASCO 21013 Toilet Flange Repair Metal Quick Ring[/h] since you have a wood sub floor you should have any problem screwing it down. Just make sure that the slot mirrors the one you have and line up the slot ends where the holdown bolts go before screwing it down.

    On my old Briggs I did have one day where I smelled sewer gas. Then it went away. It was at least a year befoe I replaced it with the Drake. So, intermittent sewer gas smell may be okay, but not when it is a daily occurence.

    I wouldn't do it, not if it is the rubber ones. It may make it worse.

    Hopefully you won't need a Closet Flange Floor Support.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2014
  15. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    246
    Location:
    Florida

    SaniSeal is not rubber. It is a compressible polyurethane foam, shaped like a wax ring. I've used them on 5 toilets so far. They work great.
  16. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Arizona
    Thanks for the info. I just read up on them...
  17. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Ok. So thank you all for your insight and help. I finally got back to this project and lifted the toilet (for the third time). What I found is that the flange is not as rusted as I thought. (I think I watched too many youtube videos of rusted flanges.) What I did find though was interesting.

    First off, here is a look at the flange:

    flange.jpg

    As you can see, the inner part near the cast iron pipe is rusted but the flange is intact. If you look toward the back of the flange you will see where the tiles are missing. I was able to fit a flat head screwdriver under the flange all across the back (basically from flange bolt to flange bolt).

    flangegap.jpg

    But everytime I hit the iron pipe, so the pipe is a tight fit with the flange. I also noticed the flange isn't as level as I once thought. It slopes slightly toward the front. There is one screw throught the flange on the back side into the flooring and one on the front side.

    Here's what else I found:

    flangedriver.jpg

    I can fit my screwdriver down into a hole through the floorboards into ?????? It seems like a hole made by a screw because it's only big enought to fit the screwdriver down into. If I rock the driver toward the pipe it hits it.

    So I figure if the flange is secure and airtight to the pipe and the wax seal around the flange to the toilet is good, I should have no problem with smell? Am I wrong in this?

    I put on the sani-seal ring because it's relatively fool proof and hoping if I still detect an odor than I know it's not me just botching the wax ring.

    I've set a few toilets before and never had this problem. Also the toilet itself is pretty cheap--$99 from Lowes. We are hoping to truly redo this bathroom in a few years, I was just hoping for a quick fix, which has turned into a lot more work than I imagined. Thanks again for everyone's help.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2014
  18. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,296
    Location:
    IL
    I hope your problem is solved already.

    If you go in again, I would use a sturdy cloth to wipe any crud you could from the area inside the outer ring. This will let you inspect well, and may give you a better surface for your wax or Saniseal to seal against.

    People suspect there could be some slight rocking or movement of the toilet in the past to make the wax seal not work so well. It looks to me as if you could use some more screws holding that outer ring down to the floor to keep that immobile. I am not a pro.

    Once the toilet is in place, consider using shims to fill a gap between the bowl and the floor to keep the toilet from rocking. I am not sure if that is best done before tightening your closet bolts or not. There are other posts that talk about the procedure of using shims.
  19. jaysamaha

    jaysamaha New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Thanks but rocking was never a problem for this toilet. That's one of the reasons it's a bit of a mystery to me. But I did clean up the flange as best I could and put down the saniseal and tightened the bolts. Hoping for the best (but not too confident)!
  20. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Arizona
    Nope, that is not rusted. (Photo #1) That area behind the flange (photo #2) is the area that I said can be filled with wax from a second wax ring, that you can just scoop some off the top of the new wax ring and push it into the crevicies; then fill up any areas around the flange bolts that are used to secure the toilet. As far as the screw goes, you may be able to go up one or two sizes (think lag bolts), or install a PASCO Ring type cover over it and you will probably need to use a carbide-tipped masonry bit to secure it. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/skill-builder/0,,203839,00.html When you said "missing tile" I tought a 3" x 3" tile... Those are little things... :D

    If you do decide to go with a flange that goes over the present one, don't silicone it down. I would scoop wax from a new ring, fill up the underside on the repair flange then push it down onto the existing flange.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
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