A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Toilet Flange
Most homeowners have a basic understanding of the way the toilet works and how to fix minor issues. However, there is a hidden and underappreciated feature of the everyday toilet that is often the culprit of dreaded leaks. This part is known as the closet flange, or more commonly, as the toilet flange. At Mr. Rooter® Plumbing, we think more homeowners should be aware of its function, how to make sure it’s working, and how to tell if it’s time to call in the plumber.
Broken, loose, or improperly installed toilet flanges can cause a toilet to leak from the bottom, risking flooding, water damage, or even the release of unwanted sewage and gases into your bathroom. Checking your toilet’s flange should be a staple in your home maintenance checklists. Otherwise, you risk minor issues or potentially major structural damage down the line.
What Is The Toilet Flange?
The closet flange is the mechanical connection between the toilet drain and your homes drainage system. If this connection is broken or improperly fitted it can cause quite a headache. It also functions as a stabilizing floor mount for your toilet. The flange is typically made from a PVC, copper, steel, or brass pipe, and is paired with a metal or plastic ring that bolts it to the bathroom floor. The flange is then sealed to the drain of your toilet to prevent leakage with a wax ring.
Toilet flanges should either be three or four inches in diameter, depending on the size of the drain pipe. The flange should fit with the pipe either by sliding over it, or fitting snugly inside of it. The length of the pipe should be adjusted according to thickness of your floor finishing. Using a flange with the wrong size diameter or improper height can create issues with the installation process, or cause leaks with usage.
Know the Warning Signs
Mr. Rooter® Plumbing recommends that you regularly check the area around your toilet for indications that there might be something wrong with the flange. Additionally, any of these signs can also be caused other major plumbing issues. If you notice any of these indicators and need help diagnosing the cause, our team of professionals is ready to help!
Signs of potential flange damage:
- Any leak from the bottom of your toilet
- Unpleasant odors
- A loose toilet that shifts or rocks
Common problems with the flange include:
- A flange that isn’t flush with finished flooring. If you’re planning to or have recently redone the flooring of your bathroom, don’t forget the flange! Toilet flanges perform best when they are secured tight and flush with finished flooring. Securing the flange is an important step in refurbishing a bathroom floor that can lead to leaks if skipped. You may have to adjust the toilet flange height, either by cutting the pipe or using a flange extender, to ensure that it is at the proper level.
- A blocked or clogged flange. Toilet backups can be caused by clogged flanges. If you can reach the blockage and have the proper tools, it’s an easy fix. Otherwise, you should call your friendly neighborhood plumber.
- Cracked or broken flange. If you notice a lot of water pooling at the base of your toilet and inspect to find that your flange is cracked or broken, it’s time for a replacement. Make sure to properly measure your drain pipe and drain to ensure that you choose a replacement flange kit that is the right size.
- Loose or broken wax rings. Another common reason for pooling water is a loose or damaged wax ring, which breaks the waterproof seal. Replacing a toilet’s wax ring can be straightforward, but it’s important to make sure it’s done right to prevent the issue from repeating.
How to Replace a Toilet Flange
The best way to replace a toilet flange is to have a licensed professional handle it for you. We can make sure that the job is done correctly to avoid problems down the line.
If you are replacing the flange on your own, it is important to take every precaution and have all the proper tools. Make sure that all parts fit properly and that all bolts are secure and tight. Follow the steps outlined below:
- Make sure the water supply is turned off and disconnect the hose from the toilet
- Empty the toilet bowl – keep flushing until all water has drained.
- Detach the toilet from the floor and carefully remove it.
- Remove the wax ring from the flange.
- Unbolt the flange from the floor, remove and clean.
- If necessary, use a toilet flange extender or cut the pipe to ensure the flange is at the proper height.
- Secure a new flange to the drain pipe, making sure that it is flush with finished flooring.
- Place a new wax ring around the drain on the bottom of the toilet.
- Replace the toilet onto the flange, pushing tightly to seal the wax ring to the flange.
- Secure the toilet back in place, connect the water hose, and turn water back on. Flush to check that it is working and watch for any leaks.
How did you do? Don’t hesitate to call us at (855) 982-2028 if you need assistance!
Get The Job Done Right. Call Mr. Rooter® Plumbing!
Our team of licensed professionals have the experience and expertise to inspect, diagnose, and repair any issue with your toilet’s flange for you, so you don’t even have to worry about whether or not the job is done right. We’ll handle it for you.
Request your estimate with your local Mr. Rooter® plumber today!