If you have heard your plumber talking about a toilet flange and you have no idea what that is, this article will help you understand it better. Knowing more about a toilet flange is also a good idea if you are looking at doing some plumbing tasks on your own. But to set your expectations, you may find it difficult to replace an old flange if you are not a real-deal home improvement kind of person.
In other places, especially in the UK, a toilet is also called a water closet. In the same way, a toilet flange is also referred to as a closet flange. Aside from toilets, flanges have been used in other machines and devices, from camera lenses and train wheels. Here’s more information about a closet flange that may benefit you.
A toilet flange is the pipe fitting connecting the toilet to the drain that leads to the septic tank or drainage system. It is also the fixture that connects the toilet to the finished floor. In essence, the toilet flange is where you attach the toilet seat using rust-proof flange screws.
On top of the toilet flange, there sits the wax ring and wax seal. These parts serve as the seal to make the toilet watertight. Aside from preventing leaks, they also keep the sewer gas and any odor from the waste pipe or septic tank at bay.
How Important is a Toilet Flange?
You can’t properly secure a toilet in place without a toilet flange. Without the toilet flange, there will be a notable leak around the toilet base and the toilet seat will rock sideways. If the flange is faulty, then the toilet base may break at any time. When that happens, you’ll need to install a new toilet bowl.
You may not physically see the toilet flange as you go through your everyday toilet duties, but it has a very important function just the same. Without it, the way you use the toilet would change. So, don’t ever underestimate the value of these toilet parts.
Different Types of Toilet Flanges
While you think that there is only one type of toilet flange, you’re mistaken. Toilet flanges come in various types and one of them may be under your toilet bowl. If you’re going to replace the old flange yourself and you don’t know which type to get, this list is going to help you a lot. After reading through this article, you won’t be asking what is a toilet flange ever again.
1. PVC-type Toilet Flanges
This toilet flange is a good replacement for whatever type you may already have installed in your bathroom. PVCs easily connect to any existing plumbing system, particularly the sewer pipe or outflow pipe. These types usually come with a test cap that breaks out easily and cleanly. Some refer to this as a plastic flange, which is not entirely correct. Even so, this is the most common toilet flange replacement option for homeowners.
2. Copper-type Toilet Flanges
One of the many good features of a copper toilet flange is its density. They come in rigid and soft types, which is interesting. Both are known to last for an extended period and can resist corrosion. What’s more, copper toilet flanges are biostatic. It means that copper flanges are not prone to fungi, viruses, and bacteria growth.
3. Cast Iron-type Toilet Flanges
The cast-iron type is perfect if you need a heavy-duty toilet flange. The toilet flange repair kit usually comes with a gasket, flange screws, brass ring, and closet bolt. The toilet flange extender may be included as well. Depending on its size, a cast iron toilet flange will fit a three-inch or a four-inch drain pipe.
4. Stainless Steel-type Toilet Flanges
What’s good about stainless steel toilet flanges is that they don’t rust or corrode. Also, they offer a very tight seal. However, most of the toilet flanges of this type only have stainless steel at the top. The rest of the fittings may be made of iron, plastic, or copper. Even so, it will work as expected.
5. Brass-type Toilet Flanges
If you have an old home where lead bends are still installed, you’ll benefit from using the brass toilet flange type. However, this type is not easy to install. You may need the help of a professional plumber to help you out with this. Check if the lead pipe will have to be replaced before buying this type. Note that you may have to solder this flange to the lead pipe for it to work exceptionally.
6. Aluminum-type Toilet Flanges
An aluminum toilet flange is lightweight and durable. It is also easy to install and resistant to corrosion, which is why a lot of DIY homeowners prefer to have this installed in their toilets. But like the stainless steel type, this toilet flange may only have aluminum at the top and another material for the rest of its parts.
7. ABS-type Toilet Flanges
PVC and ABS-type toilet flanges are almost the same. Some refer to these as plastic toilet flanges. The only difference is that some ABS toilet flanges may come in special configurations. For example, there’s a 45-degree type that works for toilets in which drains don’t run downwards, but at an angle.
Common Issues with a Toilet Flange
A toilet flange’s function is straightforward. So, when it stops working, you should be able to easily spot that too. The most common tell-tale sign of a broken flange is wobbling. If your toilet bowl seems loose or is wobbling when you’re using it, then the flange may be the culprit.
Another sign is a leak at the toilet base. If there are no visible cracks on the bowl or anywhere else where toilet water could have passed through, then it will most likely be the flange. It is no longer able to do its job of sealing the toilet. So, you must get ready to have that replaced.
Lastly, if you smell anything unpleasant in your toilet, and you’re wondering where it comes from, you now have a good idea of where to check. Unpleasant smells may mean that the flange isn’t airtight anymore, so the gas from the sewer is escaping into the air. You might want to get your toilet flange checked as soon as possible. You’re most likely to be dealing with a broken toilet flange.
Is it Easy to Do Toilet Flange Repair?
If you are very good with your hands when it comes to home maintenance work, then you should be able to replace or repair your existing toilet flange. But you must also know how to follow instructions and have several handyman tools at hand. It’s because you’ll be removing a lot of toilet bolts as you perform offset flange work.
Keep in mind though, that a toilet is heavy and has a lot of water in it. The first step is you must know how to turn off the water supply to the toilet. You can turn that off or find the main water supply to your home instead. Next, you must carefully dismantle the toilet tank without causing flooding on the bathroom floor.
With the toilet tank out of the way, you should clearly see how the toilet flange is attached to the bathroom floor. You’ll also find where the wax seal and wax ring are, and how to remove or replace them. At this point, you want to have all your tools within reach. You’re going to need them.
Note that even if the toilet tank was drained out of the water, there’s still water inside the toilet bowl. You want to clear that out too before lifting the entire toilet seat and repairing the flange. Do note that the toilet seat is going to be heavy. Find someone who can help you lift it.
After doing all those things, you should be ready to replace the old flange. It would mean removing the flange bolt and everything else in there using the usual handyman tools such as a wrench, screwdriver, hammer, and chisel. Be sure not to hurt the tile floor as you remove each part of the toilet and replace the existing flange, wax seal, and wax ring.
Installing a new toilet flange will be straightforward if you know how to screw some closet flange bolts. But other people may find that installing a new flange and putting back the toilet is a bit tricky. If this is going to be a problem, it would be best to contact a plumbing service provider to have a professional help you out with it. They would know how to offset toilet flange parts for sure, and installing a new toilet flange would be a breeze for them.