Caulk instead of wax ring for toilet

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  #1  
Old 12-01-16, 01:53 PM
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Caulk instead of wax ring for toilet

I'm installing a toilet in a bathroom that has a heated floor. I've already taken a wax ring and tested it's tolerance to 140deg water by simply placing it on a hot water pipe in the basement (my potable water is about 140deg). The ring got melty.

The toilet, like many, has a spout type tube thing coming out at the bottom, about 1/2". My flange is mounted on top of the finished floor as I prefer. The toilet has fairly tight tolerance with the flange, fitting very nicely and allowing ~1/4 t to 3/8" of total side to side and back to back play. That means that there is probably around 1/8" gap all around from the ceramic toilet to the pvc flange.

Given the fear of melting wax, I looked into waxless rings but everything I looked at locally is too thick for my 1/8" gap. To me, there's no reason I couldn't just caulk the toilet to the flange, laying down a big fat bead then placing the toilet. I know wax is used for large or unknown gaps and movement/rocking of the toilet, but my toilet install is tight and my toilet mounting is rock solid, level floor with the toilet base fully caulked to the tile floor (it's not going to rock/move).

Any reason I can't use a good caulk? If I need to pull the toilet I'm sure I can break the caulk just like if it were wax.

Other alternatives?

Thanks!
 
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Old 12-01-16, 02:06 PM
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If I need to pull the toilet I'm sure I can break the caulk just like if it were wax.
I'm not so sure about that. You may break the toilet before the seal lets go.
There are waxless foam rings that may work for you.
 
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Old 12-01-16, 02:09 PM
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I know wax is used for... movement/rocking of the toilet
Actually, it's not - a toilet that rocks will eventually break the seal provided by the wax ring.

Let's wait for a pro on the caulk idea but I could see it making removing the stool a nightmare, since it would then be glued in place.
 
  #4  
Old 12-01-16, 02:14 PM
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Well it depends on the choice of caulk, and how much I use, I guess. Silicone really likes to peel off of things, but that's not what I'd use. Maybe something really stretchy like OSI Quad?

Would rather not have to order something and Menards didn't have anything thin enough. I'd much sooner use caulk than plumbers putty. A neoprene seal could be great but only in exactly the right size and thickness.

I really really doubt I'd break the toilet taking it out. Also my flange and drain pipe are pretty bomb proof.
 
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Old 12-01-16, 02:52 PM
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Your heat strips should not be close enough to the toilet to have any adverse effects on the wax ring. You, for sure, don't want to use OSI Quad. The wax ring is the industry standard, so I don't know why you have a reluctance to use it and use something most people have warned against using.
 
  #6  
Old 12-01-16, 03:44 PM
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The floor is hot water heated with aluminum plates installed against the bottom of the subfloor. The water itself will probably be ~140deg. The closest the pipe gets is about 7" from the center of the toilet flange. Of course the surface temp of the floor should really never go above 90deg, but when you cover the floor with something (a towel, or a toilet perhaps) that portion tends to get much warmer because the surface doesn't radiate as much heat. So my concern about the wax may not be warranted, but I just want to play it safe.

I don't think the industry standard should followed blindly. I have legitimate concerns and I'd be more interested in an intelligent discussion about why certain materials should or shouldn't be used.
 
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Old 12-01-16, 04:00 PM
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Intellegent?? Here goes. Caulk, silicone, OSI Quad will not seal properly and will adhere to the flange and to the toilet making it almost impossible to remove properly for maintenance or remodeling. Note the thickness of the wax ring. Note you will not ever be able to duplicate that thickness with caulk products.

I've not used one, nor have I heard good nor bad on them, but here is an alternative Toilet Gasket Flexible Waxless Seal - Universal Fit-BL01 - The Home Depot
 
  #8  
Old 12-01-16, 04:04 PM
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I like how the caulk won't seal but also will also seal so well that it'll be impossible to remove....

The item you linked to is gigantic. I said there's a ~1/8" gap.
 
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Old 12-01-16, 04:11 PM
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You could never be sure you obtained a solid seal. Near impossible to pull a thick bead of caulk and not have it slump during the cure process. Why not baffle around the toilet pipe from below with a couple of rolled sheets of aluminum. Kind of like a double walled fireplace vent tube. It would insulate from the heat you are worried about and you could use a wax ring like 99% of the toilets currently installed.
 
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Old 12-01-16, 04:39 PM
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I said it would "adhere" to both surfaces. I gave no indication that it would "seal".
 
  #11  
Old 12-01-16, 04:42 PM
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Everything is all sealed above and below. The pipes lie within the floor structure (a sub-subfloor between the joists).
 
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Old 12-01-16, 04:48 PM
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I know wax is used for large or unknown gaps and movement/rocking of the toilet, but my toilet install is tight and my toilet mounting is rock solid
The wax seal is to keep water contained and keep sewer gasses out of the house. There's no way I would trust caulk to do that and the plumbing code would probably agree.
I don't think heat is an issue here. I would just install the toilet as usual.
Even in Lake Havasu City, the toilets aren't 140
 
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Old 12-01-16, 04:55 PM
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As a remodeling contractor, I have no reservations about opening up a ceiling from below and insulating as needed to satisfy your needs and then closing up the hole and finishing it like new. Yes, would involve some more work, but sometimes that is the price. For the record, and not trying to be snarky, I think your idea is one of those that keeps me in business fixing things after the damage is done. I've seen some crazy homeowner fixes in my years and this would add to the inventory of things I shake my head about. Wax rings have had a long run of success in virtually every residential or commercial building. Radiant heating systems are also a popular upgrade to bathroom remodels. I have never heard your concern before.
 
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Old 12-01-16, 08:35 PM
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Actually, searching online I did find stories from people who seemed to have melted wax rings from heating. I bet there are many more wax rings out there that were melted or softened/slumped where the problem never showed itself because there was never a backup.

czizzi, looking at my photos what exactly would you do from below after opening up the ceiling? Yes, many wax rings have had success but I'm sure we've all seen failed wax rings too. Your idea of opening up my ceiling and adding insulation is another one of those things that I've heard from crazy contractors whom I'll never hire to work on any of the houses I own.

I'm not anti-wax ring, I'm just worried about the heat. In my tests the wax softens and melts pretty easily. If you guys are saying from experience that with the proximity of my pipes the wax won't melt, then that's good info. To have that experience you'd need to have pulled toilets that were installed in similarly heated floors.



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Old 12-01-16, 09:37 PM
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  #16  
Old 12-01-16, 11:46 PM
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I would love to find more test data on heated floors. Last winter I ran a lot of tests on one bathroom that I heated from below with pex years after the initial renovation. I did numerous surface temperature tests in different spots before and after adding and making aluminum transfer plate adjustments. Generally the floor would stay in the 80's but in some places the floor would heat to over 90deg (like directly above a pipe and/or where there was minimal air movement). When covered by some object it could easily rise above 100deg. This is frequently noticed in daily use when a towel or something is left on the floor. After the item is picked up that part of the floor is substantially warmer.

So the space beneath a toilet could possibly stay much warmer, but maybe the toilet itself sinks away a lot of the heat, and maybe the drain pipe attached to the flange sinks away heat and/or convects heat by moved warmed air elsewhere into the stack.

...I can't get my temperature sensor under the toilet in any of my bathrooms.
 
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Old 12-02-16, 06:54 AM
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Keep in mind that if the floor was actually 140 in any spots, you wouldn't be able to stand on it.

I just don't think there's reason here to deviate from standard/best practice.
 
  #18  
Old 12-02-16, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by chimpywrench
I bet there are many more wax rings out there that were melted or softened/slumped where the problem never showed itself because there was never a backup.
I think you'd lose that bet. The seal is primarily for sewer gasses and you'd know about it immediately if it failed.

I get where you're coming from and even though the product advised has been around for 100 years, the reason there isn't anything better might be simply that the wax works--and even works with heated floors.
 
  #19  
Old 12-02-16, 08:27 AM
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I'd lose that bet? I've pulled toilets where there was minimal leakage past the wax ring but not enough to show itself while the toilet was installed. I've also pulled toilets where one flush caused a small puddle of water to appear beside the toilet base. Surely there are many many less than completely sealed wax rings out there and no one realizes the seal isn't perfect. I've had plumbing open for hours, days, and not gotten a sewer smell from it. If you had a bad wax seal and you've caulked around the toilet base you would probably never know it until you had a backup and the water found a way out.
 
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Old 12-02-16, 10:31 AM
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If you guys are saying from experience that with the proximity of my pipes the wax won't melt, then that's good info.
I can't really help because I haven't installed heated floors. I would consult a local heating company with your specific concerns. I have never seen nor heard of needing to take precautions when installing a toilet, such as warnings to keep the tubing a certain distance from a toilet or anything else.

I am responsible for any damage I might cause to a home, even after many years. There is no way a customer could convince me to install a toilet using caulk.
 
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Old 12-02-16, 03:31 PM
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czizzi, looking at my photos what exactly would you do from below after opening up the ceiling? Yes, many wax rings have had success but I'm sure we've all seen failed wax rings too. Your idea of opening up my ceiling and adding insulation is another one of those things that I've heard from crazy contractors whom I'll never hire to work on any of the houses I own.
Truth is, if you had supplied the pictures in advance of this thread you would have gotten better information. The description you gave lead me to believe that your radiant system was between the floor joists, not above them. Obviously my suggestion would never had been made if that was abundantly clear. Regardless, we are here to help and calling me a "crazy contractor" whom you would never hire is being a bit arrogant. You know little about me, but given what I have read of you, you're going to do it your way regardless of what we have to say. So and again, not to sound snarky, but the time to have thought about this is before you closed up the floor.

Another simple suggestion is to turn back the water temp going through the loop.
 
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Old 12-02-16, 07:55 PM
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czizzi, you called me crazy first, I just handed it back to you. You know little about me and assumed a lot.

Look and read more carefully. My heating pipes are not above the floor joists, they're between them on top of a sub-subfloor that is installed between the joists. I did this to keep from raising the floor too much. The pictures really weren't needed to get an answer to my question about caulk vs wax.

Of course I'm going to do it my way! But that doesn't mean that 'my way' is stubborn to input.

Today I installed the toilet with a standard wax ring. I was about to set the toilet on the floor dry, run the floor heat for a couple hours, then feed a temperature sensor into one of the flange bolt holes in the toilet base. Then I decided that was about the same amount of work as just installing the toilet with the wax, then coming back sometime later after the floor heat has been running and removing one of the mounting nuts and inspecting the wax ring through the bolt hole. I could also jam a temp sensor into the wax at that time and I'll know exactly how hot it can get in there.
 
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Old 12-03-16, 03:39 AM
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Good grief. That's a lot of work for a non issue. Go here and buy this product, install it and watch the game on TV. http://www.oatey.com/doc/MaxWax_Wax_Ring.pdf Melting point is 150 degrees F. You are never going to get that temperature near your toilet.
 
  #24  
Old 12-03-16, 09:40 AM
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Hi chandler,

As I mentioned the toilet is already installed. A lot of work? Referring to me wanting to do temperature tests? Yes, it is, but it makes me a lot smarter in the future. I don't care about the game on tv, my houses are the best.
 
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Old 12-03-16, 10:52 AM
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As mentioned earlier, your floor will never get to 140 degrees. That water is 140, but that dissipates very quickly through the aluminum plate, wood, tile, air, etc. You should have no issues with a wax ring.
 
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