Toilet Flanges What are They and How Do They Work

Toilets that are leaking, moving, or making weird noises are a sign that something is wrong. Sometimes a toilet that is acting up can be a simple fix, as simple as fixing or replacing a flange. The toilet flange connects the toilet to the drainpipes leading to the outside sewer. Flanges are also responsible for keeping the toilet securely attached to the floor so it doesn’t rock back and forth, leak, or overflow. Flanges may seem like a small part, but they play a big role in the function of your toilet.

What Is A Toilet Flange

The toilet flange is a pipe fitting that secures the toilet to the drainpipe on the bathroom floor. Flanges are secured to the floor with bolts and screws and a rubber gasket and wax ring tightly seal the flange to the bottom of the toilet. Toilet flanges are essential to how efficiently your toilet works without leaks or faults as well as keeping the unit securely attached to the floor.

Types of Toilet Flanges

Toilet flanges are crucial to the function of your toilet and keeping them in good running order. With toilet flanges, there are different types to choose from to fit your needs. There are many different types of flanges to choose from including the following:

Copper Toilet Flanges

Copper toilet flanges can be soft and flexible or even rigid. These flanges are durable and corrosion resistant making them a great option for your bathroom. Hard copper flanges may need an elbow joint to connect properly but they offer anti-bacterial properties making them a great fit for any bathroom!

Brass Toilet Flanges

Brass is a great rust-resistant and resilient plumbing material that is perfect for toilet flanges. This style flange comes in different sizes including your regular sizes, deep-seal, and offset. Brass toilet flanges are simple circular designs while others may require elbow joints to connect to the drainpipes.

Plastic (PVC) Toilet Flanges

Plastic, or PVC, toilet flanges are the most common toilet flanges that are found in both residential and commercial plumbing. Some of these PVC flanges are 100% plastic materials while others may have a metallic top and a PVC base.

Signs Your Flange Needs Replaced

Toilet flanges are essential to keeping up with your plumbing maintenance. When the flange is in need of repair there are signs to look for so you can catch it in time before anything major happens. Below is a list of signs that a replacement is needed.

Toilet Is Loose

Even if your toilet is just wobbling a little bit it could be due to a damaged flange. Before going all out and removing the toilet from the floor be sure to check that all connections are secure. Not securing your toilet properly could end up damaging a flange that may not be in need of replacing.

Toilet Leaking at the Base

In most cases, if your toilet is leaking at the base it is more often a wax ring issue. It’s best to be sure by removing the toilet to inspect both the wax ring and the flange.To fix this issue, replace the wax ring or flange depending on what you find by removing the toilet, but never attempt to “seal” the toilet with anything. Even if this prevents the leak from coming onto your floor, the leak will go somewhere else which is usually underneath your flooring causing more damage.

Unsure of the Last Time it Was Replaced

Proactively avoiding expensive plumbing repairs includes replacing questionable plumbing parts. Not having any prior issues with your toilet or your plumbing may be a good indicator that the flange is in need of replacement before it gets to a point that damage or other issues start to arise.

The Bathroom Has A Sewer Smell

Having a rotten egg or sulfuric smell in your bathroom without any presence of a leak could be the flange starting to fail and broken just enough to let the smell of the sewer line to infiltrate your bathroom. When the smell starts it’s a good indication the flange could be cracked which can eventually lead to a leak from the bottom of the toilet.

Installing A New Toilet Flange

It is always best to call in a professional because as simple as the process can sound there are more elements that go into the installation of the flange that can be tricky.

Tools you Need

When it comes time to replace your toilet flange there are a few tools and necessities to have on hand and at the ready. First and foremost you should have your toilet flange ready and within reach. Nothing is more frustrating than to have everything ready to go and not have your toilet flange within reach to install. Toilet flange bolts are important to have on hand to secure the new flange. New bolts are essential because while the old bolts may still look like they’d work they can be rusted and worn out and not be as effective. Wax rings are used to hold the toilet to the flange to the base of the toilet. You should replace your wax ring anytime that the toilet is removed and have it on hand when you need it because it can be tricky to put on. Tools to keep nearby are a wrench, screwdriver, and putty knife to make sure the installation goes as smoothly as possible and done in the best way.

Steps to Replace Your Flange

  1. The first step to changing the toilet flange is to turn off the water supply to the unit and remove the toilet. You can turn off this supply with a knob on the back of the toilet and empty the toilet itself by flushing it a few times. Then you can disconnect the hose being sure to have a bucket and some towels ready for if a leak occurs. Loosen the bolts and lift the toilet. You may have to lightly tap the sides to separate the wax ring’s grip and have an extra pair of hands ready since the toilet can be heavy. 
  2. Block the pipe with a rag. Be sure not to block the pipe so tightly that it clogs the pipe, it needs to be able to be easily removed. This will prevent the smell of sewer from filling the bathroom while also giving added security so tools and supplies don’t fall down the drain. 
  3. Next is the time to remove the old flange. There may be remnants of the wax ring that needs to be removed that you can use the putty knife to do so. The flange should be fairly easy to remove by unscrewing the hardware and removing the piece. 
  4. Place the new flange over the drainpipe to be sure it fits properly as flanges come in different styles and sizes. If the fit works, attach it to the pipe with your hardware. Be careful of the rubber gasket in the middle of the flange as not to damage it because it creates a seal for the pipe. Before moving forward be sure that the flange is level with the floor and no water damage is present. 
  5. Finally, the new wax ring can be attached and fitted to the toilet, and the toilet attached back to the pipe. You can use your original hardware if in good condition but if rust or any cross-threading is present use new hardware to ensure the best fit. Once you have your toilet securely back where it belongs you can restore water to the toilet by cutting your supply back on. You should hear the toilet tank filling immediately and you can give a few flushes to ensure everything is back in working order with no leaks!