Nowadays, many homeowners know how a toilet functions and how to solve minor plumbing problems. However, did you know that a certain less-known and often overlooked toilet feature is one of the leading causes of severe leaks in your toilet? This part is referred to as a toilet, or closet, flange. A loose or broken flange or improper installation of this part can cause leakages from the bottom, and this may cause water damage, flooding, or even the release of unwanted gases and sewage into your bathroom.
What Is A Closet, or Toilet, Flange?
A closet flange is a mechanical link between your residence’s drainage system and toilet drain. If this breaks or is improperly installed, it may cause serious plumbing issues in your house. This feature also acts as a stabilizing floor base for a toilet. Normally, closet flanges are made of PVC, copper, or steel. A flange is usually paired with a plastic or metal ring that bolts it to the floor. The flange is then stuck down to the toilet drain using a wax ring to avoid leaks.
Toilet flanges are usually 3 or 4 inches in diameter, depending on the size of the drainpipe. A flange should fit with the pipe either by fitting comfortably inside of it or sliding over it. The pipe length should be adjusted depending on the floor finishing’s thickness.
Note that using a flange that doesn’t have the correct height or diameter can cause issues while you’re installing it, and this can cause leaks during usage.
Replacing or installing a new toilet flange can be challenging, and it’s not recommended for people who lack extensive plumbing knowledge. To make the installation easier, you need special tools and equipment, including a hammer drill and cutting apparatus.
In contrast to typical drills that just rotate the crumb, hammer drills usually turn and shift the crumb up and down ever so slightly, and this develops a pounding action together with the drilling motion. You can rent or purchase an affordable hammer drill at a tool rental outlet or home improvement store near you. If you need the hammer drill only once or occasionally, renting is usually the ideal option. However, this is one of the tools a professional plumber will likely possess.
Since you will have to remove the old bolts, you need some form of power tool that can handle this. A manual hacksaw may not be effective since you must shift the saw blade parallel to and against the concrete blade. Therefore, the best option is either an angle grinder or oscillating multi-equipment tool that has a metal cutting blade.
Lastly, exercise safety precautions during the installation process. Immediately after removing the toilet, plug up the open pipe using old rags to avoid the emission of sewer gases. You should also conduct the job while wearing latex gloves. Lastly, it’s essential that you wash your hands thoroughly after working.
So, how do you replace install a new closet flange on a concrete slab? Here’s the procedure.
Cut Off the Old Flange and Barriers
After removing the toilet, you’ll likely see the old toilet flange. Nowadays, it’s rare to come across a toilet linked to the sewer line that lacks a flange. The next step is usually removing the old flange and any barrier before installing your new one.
Closet flanges are usually attached using bolts into the concrete slab. If the old bolts embedded in the concrete are in good shape and fit in perfectly to the new flange, you can consider reusing them. However, if they are mismatched, rusted, or too short, cut them off when replacing the flange.
You have to use the right tools if your plumbing work is to be done correctly. Use the multi-equipment tool that has a metal-cutting blade or an angle grinder to cut off the bolts and other existing barriers. Moreover, ensure that these pieces are perfectly cut down so that they’re level with the concrete.
Scrape Off the Old Wax Ring
After removing the barriers, the old wax ring will still be present around the drain opening. Probably, the wax will be sticky, thick, or even smeared with sewage. You must exercise patience while removing the wax ring. The necessary tools for this task are latex gloves and a putty knife. Systematically get rid of wax ring traces and place the bits into the trash right away.
Select an Appropriate Toilet Flange
Size is another essential aspect of plumbing work. You must carefully note the drain pipe’s size since your new flange must perfectly fit over this pipe. Measure the pipe’s diameter before purchasing the new flange, and carry the original flange to the plumbing store if possible. This will ensure that you get a perfect size that fits comfortably.
Put the T-bolts in Your New Toilet Flange
Put the T-bolts upside down to ensure that the threaded shafts remain sticking up. This allows you to picture the position of the toilet.
Position the Toilet Flange
The next step is to fit the flange into the drain opening and use the T-bolts to position it. Ensure that the spaces between the back wall and the bolts are equal so that the toilet tank remains parallel to the wall. One of the ways that you can do this is by rotating the flange in either direction. After placing the toilet, ensure that you get the straightest position before securing the flange. The toilet flange should fit comfortably without any gaps.
Make Holes in the Concrete
Make four holes that surround the ring using a quarter-inch masonry or concrete bit and a hammer drill. The holes that you make must be directly through the holes in the flange. Ensure that you attain the required depth by using the hammer’s depth gauge. You must be extra-careful when it comes to the drill angle. This is because breaking the sewer pipe’s top lip will force you to replace or repair it, which can be costly.
Screw the Flange onto Concrete
Lastly, tighten the flange into the concrete slab by using quality concrete or masonry screws. If you’re using a plastic toilet flange ring, be extra careful to avoid cracking the ring while you’re twisting the screws.
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