Replacing toilet/closet flange

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Old 10-12-14, 12:14 AM
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Replacing toilet/closet flange

I have a toilet which was replaced recently (~2 months ago), and it seems to be leaking around the base. I haven't noticed anything around the toilet itself, but the plumbing below is exposed and it occasionally drips. After speaking to the person who installed it, I believe I know what the issue is... Apparently the pre-existing closet flange wasn't rotated into proper alignment with the wall, so only one of the toilet bolts could be properly secured. This was not corrected, and now I have the dubious pleasure of doing so.

I've read a few guides and watched a few videos, but I thought I'd drop in here for a sanity check. The toilet hasn't been removed yet, but the underside looks like this:
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Can anyone tell me how this is attached? I'm fairly certain the flange itself is plastic. Since the elbow below it is female to female I'm guessing there's a length of 3" pipe glued into that, and the flange body is glued onto the outside of that?

So to replace it I'll need to either need to disect and pry off the old flange and glue a new one on, or alternatively, cut the top part off and use a replacement that fits inside the drainpipe instead. Does that sound right?
 
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Old 10-12-14, 05:23 AM
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If you have a clear shot at the length of ABS pipe that runs horizontal to the right of your picture. It would be easiest to cut that run, remove the elbow and flange. Duplicate it and reattach with a coupler. While I have made numerous repairs to sch40 PVC by cutting and chiseling off parts to get down to a bare pipe, I have never done it with ABS. Here PVC is the main drain material. In other parts, ABS is used more often.
 
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Old 10-12-14, 06:21 AM
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If you want to cheat you can lightly tack a block of wood to the subflooring from below. The block should be pushed right up against the pipe. Then with a drill upstairs in the bathroom drill a hole through the flange on the side where you could not install the bolt. Then run a long wood screw down into the wood block you attached from below. LedgerTite and PowerPro are two screws that come to mind that work well. They are highly corrosion resistant, are available in very long lengths and have a wide head with a built in washer. To do this a bit more properly remove the toilet. It makes drilling the clearance hole through the old flange easier and allows you the chance to install a new wax ring.

 
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Old 10-12-14, 07:27 AM
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Amateur plumber here. Since those mounting slots are on opposite sides I have trouble seeing how he got one to work and not the other. If one failed, the other is about to. Next question, is did he attach the flange to the floor, does the toilet rock like it is loose?

IMO, definitely need to pull the toilet and make sure this is done right. If the pipe is accessible as czizzi asks, then replace it all.

Bud
 
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Old 10-12-14, 09:29 AM
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Good suggestions all. Thank you.

czizzi: I do have access to about 6" of the horizontal run:
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If I cut there as you suggest, I'm estimating I need to trim the pipe back about 4.5" to add the coupler in there? While that leaves some room for error on paper, how would I go about fixing it if something goes wrong?

Pilot Dane: Clever hack, I like it. Probably not going to give it a try though as the drywall ceiling underneath will be going back up shortly, so I won't be able to monitor it... So since I'm reseating the toilet anyway I might as well fix the cause of the issue.

AMBud9051: I did briefly see the flange when the toilet was being replaced, it was in good condition. The issue was that when it was installed, whoever did it did not line up the bolt holes with the wall. So while one bolt is fairly secure, the other is mostly in the opening of the slot. Something like this:
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Old 10-12-14, 12:06 PM
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Everything is dry fit before final glue up of the pipe. I would do the following order for the glue up. looks like plenty of wiggle room in the hole in the floor size.

1. Coupler to main pipe
2. Extension pipe to coupler
3. Elbow to extension pipe
4. With the help of someone else to support the pipe, install the flange from the top side.

If you dry fit everything without glue first, there should be no way you can goof short of not getting the elbow in straight. There should be little tick marks on the elbow to help guide you to getting it perfectly level. If course, make sure the flange is installed oriented correctly. Use masking or blue tape on the floor to mark off the exact located you desire for your bolt holes.
 
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Old 10-12-14, 05:41 PM
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After a visit to the hardware store I (hopefully) have everything I need to get this done. The replacement flange has a rotating outer ring, so I don't think there's any way it can end up positioned like this:
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The toilet itself was solidly attached, and there's so much wax everywhere I can't tell where it was leaking. Unfortunately the water got under the vinyl flooring, so we're going to have to replace that as well:
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The people who live there will be back tomorrow, so we'll need to remount the toilet then and remove it again when we do the floor.

Thank you czizzi for the walk-through. I had a helper but he left for thanksgiving dinner (can't say I blame him!), so unless he comes back I expect I'll need to get the flange mounted to the floor earlier in the process than you've suggested. I am a little worried about that as I stuck the piece of pipe into it at the store, and it was extremely tight. I couldn't insert it all the way, and had a heck of a time getting it back out.
 

Last edited by bunnsion; 10-12-14 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 10-12-14, 05:56 PM
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Make sure you secure the "rotating" outer ring to the subfloor before trying to reset the toilet. Otherwise the whole toilet will rotate after you re-install.
 
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Old 10-12-14, 06:20 PM
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Will do. Is there an accepted way to lubricate the pieces for the test fitting? Dish soap maybe? Or could I use the ABS primer?
 
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Old 10-12-14, 06:49 PM
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Lubricate with nothing - you don't want to risk the bond with the ABS solvent. Dry fit should go fine without need for Lubricant. Just wiggle back and forth if you have difficulty pulling apart after the test fit.
 
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Old 10-13-14, 01:21 AM
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The next task was scraping the paper backing and glue off to determine the state of the wood and hopefully help it dry out faster. It was somewhat damp, but it doesn't appear to have begun to rot.
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I am a bit concerned about what I can't see though - the subfloor is plywood on top of tongue and groove. Since the water made it all the way through to the room below, some has surely got between those layers.

Here's the new flange. Looking at it now I'm wondering why the inside lip is flat and has that raised edge. Should this be OK?
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Old 10-13-14, 04:55 AM
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Use a heat or a heat gun to loosen the glue on the paper backing. I actually have an old clothes iron that I use to gently heat up the paper to ease the release of the glue. The design on the flange is to better capture the wax ring and make a good seal.
 
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Old 10-13-14, 01:06 PM
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Since the wax ring's ID is quite a bit larger than the OD of the toilet's outlet, I have a feeling it would be better to place the ring on the flange itself so I know that it's where it's supposed to be... Does that seem reasonable?

Today's work so far:

The screws holding the flange in place were pretty eroded.
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Plumbing cut.
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The top of the plywood didn't look too bad...
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But at least one piece of tongue and groove was mushy, so I removed it.
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Old 10-26-14, 04:07 PM
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Haven't had time to come back for a while, but this is how things turned out. The floor itself was a huge hassle, because once the long tongue & groove boards in the first layer were cut, they no longer sat at the same height. This, coupled with not having the right thickness of plywood to replace the top layer (it was a holiday so stores were closed) led to the new floor being slightly lower than the original. This would have been fine if the whole area under the toilet had been removed, but as I didn't have enough material for that, the front and back edges of the toilet were on the old floor, while most of the centre and sides were over the lower area and thus unsupported. To make matters worse, the plumbing didn't go perfectly either, mostly because I didn't have anyone to help out. The elbow didn't end up quite level, and the bottom edge of the new flange was sticking up about 1/4" above the new floor. To fix that I cut a ring out of wood to go underneath so it would be supported. Then I used some shims around the sides of the toilet to ensure it didn't wobble too much.

Once everything was back together, it worked fine. It also saved several hundred dollars by delaying a professional repair until after Thanksgiving weekend.
 
 

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