signs toilet flange is bad?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by atuel, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    Sorry if this has been asked/answered, but search is only returning a blank page for me.

    So my guest bathroom toilet has a minor leak with a few drips every time it flushes. Its over a crawl so I have access underneath it. The subfloor on one side shows signs of moisture, etc. Nothing rotten yet. Only reason we detected the leak is I had my crawl space sealed and a small puddle formed over time.

    Its a PVC flange cemented to the 3" PVC below (flange ouside of 3†pipe). The leak is either the wax ring or the joint where the flange connects to the 3" below. Its difficult to see exactly where as the bathroom was redone at some point and the flange is 1/4" below finished floor level due to tile/hardibacker replacing what I’d guess was lenoleium.

    The ring was not a nice healthly yellow color and looked deformed a bit, but hard to tell as looks like they stacked two rings to make up for the extra height. It appeared one ring was completely smashed (1/4†thick) and stuck to the bottom of the toilet and the other stayed stuck to the flange so not sure they ever had a good seal between them. Heres a pic of the ring after pulling the toilet. The flange screws that hold it to the sub floor were all rusted underneath the wax ring.

    download.jpg


    This is only like the third toilet I've every pulled up and all the previous ones were fine as we only pulled them up to replace the flooring underneath them. Most rings I've seen look damn near brand new aside from the inside of the ring which is exposed to waste. So does this ring look like it could be the cause of my problem? Would a flange extender solve both my problems with giving me the height for a proper wax ring and extending below the joint in question? Never used one, but some people seem to disapprove. I cant cut and replace easily, so that is why I’m considering a flange extender.
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    The white & black on that wax says it is where the water was leaking.

    The flange should be on top of the finished floor.

    Get some closet flange extensions and build them up to the proper height then put on a new ring.

    [​IMG]
  3. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    So should I not get the flange extensions that have a funnel that extends down past the existing flange and into the pipe below?
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Flange extensions do not usually have such a funnel, and no, I would not use that. Use the one pictured. Hard to tell for sure in the photo. but is seems like your problem is that the flange is too low, hence poor or no squeeze on the wax
  5. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    Thats basically what I figured to... just dont have enough experience in seeing these things done poorly like this to be sure. And the water seems to hit the edge of the flange and follow that around the bottom of it and down the side of pipe vs dumping off into the tile/grout so hard to say exactly where it was coming from based on where it was going. Figured you guys would be able to tell me just by looking at that ring.

    Its odd though that the ring on the bottom of the toilet would be compressed so much and the ring on the flange looks as if it has barely been touched compression wise. I wonder if the ring came up on the bottom of the toilet when they did the tile and they just slapped a new ring in there that barely or even never made contact with the old ring on the bottom of the toilet.

    On the other question, I know they used the wrong screws to secure the flange down since they rusted, but even with being the wrong screws, I would have thought being sealed under the wax ring would have sealed them from rusting so badly. Would the screws rust just from the bit of water that gets on them from installing/re-installing the toilet (after the tile) or would it take water leaking under the ring as well?
  6. asktom

    asktom Member

    Messages:
    575
    Location:
    Victor, MT
    Use solid brass closet bolts, not the plated steel ones.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I would say you had something else going on, because if the two wax seals had been pushed together, they WOULD have become a single piece and water could not have leaked between them, and they would NOT have separated when you removed the toilet.
  8. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code

    Thats pretty much what was bothering me as well... I have replaced all the drain pipe 6" below the flange and none of that is leaking. Wish I would have known about this leak and the flange being recessed when I replaced all that cause I would have replaced the flange as well, but I'm sort of SOL on that without replacing pretty much everything I just did to get that flange replaced. I might be able to get some sort of nohub flange in there, but thats about it.

    So being there was a ring on the bottom of the toilet and one on the flange when I took it off, best I can come up with is one of them was likely the previous ring that they may not have even realized was there and it never contacted the new ring they put in enough to make a seal. It was damn close at a couple drops of water per flush, but not good enough.

    Any other explanation you have seen? if it was an extra tall wax ring, have they ever separated evenly in half like this? The toilet was sealed with a massive silicon mess so the water was definitely comming from the bottom of the toilet vs behind the tank, etc. I briefly looked at bottom of the toilet and doesnt appear to be any chips/cracks there in the trap or anything like that.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,134
    Location:
    New England
    Clean all of the wax off the ring and ensure it isn't cracked. An alternative to a wax ring is a waxless seal. Two companies make them that I'm aware of: Fluidmaster and Fernco (?). Both of those would handle the slightly low flange. First, make sure it is intact.
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,121
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I have seen porous porcelain. No crack, just water weeping out of the surface.
    And I've seen cracks, and I've see wax go bad after a toilet has been plunged. The pressure from the plunging can push the wax out.
    Wax isn't permanent, it's a temporary seal that can last a long time. In the Seattle area, we don't caulk entirely around the bowl for just that reason, if the wax seal is broken, and water is leaking, we'd rather know sooner then later.
  11. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code

    Thanks... thats something I almost forgot about with not caulking around the entire toilet. This one was caulked down so much that even after I cut the caulk, i still had a bit of trouble getting it loose.

    So plan is to get a flange extension to get it above the finished floor. Then I'm going to seal around the flange extension so any water will run out the back of the toilet where I didnt seal it completely to the floor.

    I may also pick up a new toilet when I'm at the store since I never really liked this one much anyway cause its too short front to back. Better safe that sorry here cause just replaced my mold filled A/C ducts with new and I'm betting this leak was just enough to get that mold started and sustained since the main duct runs right under where this leak is. At least the new duct is spray foamed so its a better barrier to leaks like this.
  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    There is really no telling what can go wrong when a tile guys reset a toilet.
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