Are you experiencing a high toilet flange issue? Don’t worry, you can fix it yourself without calling a plumber. A toilet flange is a circular fitting that connects your toilet to the sewer line and helps keep it steady. If the flange is too high, it can cause leaking and other problems.
To fix a high toilet flange, you’ll need to first turn off the water supply to your toilet and remove it from the floor. Then, you can use a hacksaw to cut the extra height off the flange and replace the wax ring before re-installing your toilet. It’s important to ensure the flange is level and secured properly to avoid future issues. With these simple steps, you can effectively fix your high toilet flange and avoid unnecessary expenses.
What’s a Toilet Flange, and Why Does It Matter?
Imagine the toilet flange as the unsung hero of your bathroom. It’s a flat, round piece of plastic or metal that sits on top of the waste pipe and connects your toilet to the floor. This seemingly unimportant component serves several crucial functions:
- Sealing: The flange seals the area around the waste pipe to prevent any nasty odors or gases from escaping into your bathroom.
- Stability: It provides stability to your toilet by anchoring it securely to the floor. A loose toilet can be wobbly and uncomfortable to use.
- Alignment: The flange ensures that the toilet lines up correctly with the waste pipe, allowing for effective flushing and drainage.
Now that you know why a properly functioning toilet flange is essential let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of what to do when you find it’s too high.
Signs of a High Toilet Flange
Before we get into the DIY fix, let’s identify if your toilet flange is indeed too high. Here are some telltale signs:
- Uneven Toilet: When your toilet rocks or wobbles, it’s often a sign that the flange is too high on one side.
- Leakage: If you notice water seeping out from the base of the toilet, it might be because the wax ring seal isn’t making proper contact due to the flange height.
- Difficulty in Flushing: A high flange can result in poor alignment between the toilet and the waste pipe, leading to flushing issues.
- Visible Gap: Sometimes, you can simply look under the toilet and see that the flange is sitting higher than the floor level.
Now that you’ve identified the problem, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Tools and Materials You’ll Need
Before you start any DIY project, it’s crucial to gather the necessary plumbing tools and materials. Here’s what you’ll need for this toilet flange fix:
- Adjustable Wrench: This will come in handy for loosening and tightening bolts.
- Hacksaw: You’ll need a hacksaw to trim the waste pipe if it’s too high.
- Wax Ring Seal: This is a crucial component for sealing the toilet to the flange. Make sure it’s the right size for your toilet and flange.
- Toilet Flange Extender: If the flange is just slightly too high, an extender can help bridge the gap.
- New Closet Bolts: If your old bolts are damaged or corroded, it’s a good idea to replace them.
- Screwdriver: You’ll need this for removing the toilet seat and lid.
- Plumber’s Putty: This can help create a watertight seal between the toilet and the floor.
- Safety Gear: Don’t forget safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself while working.
Now that you’ve got your toolkit ready, let’s move on to the step-by-step process.
Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply
Before you start any work on your toilet, you must turn off the water supply. You’ll usually find a valve behind or near the toilet. Turn it clockwise to shut off the water flow.
Step 2: Empty the Tank and Bowl
Flush the toilet to empty the tank and bowl completely. This will make it easier to work on the toilet without any water in the way. You can also use a plunger to force out any remaining water if necessary.
Step 3: Remove the Toilet
Removing the toilet might seem intimidating, but it’s a necessary step to access the flange. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by disconnecting the water supply line from the toilet tank. Use your adjustable wrench to loosen the nut and carefully remove the line. Have a towel or bucket ready to catch any water that might spill out.
- Next, remove the caps covering the closet bolts (the bolts securing the toilet to the floor). Typically, these are located on either side of the toilet base.
- Use your adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the nuts from the closet bolts.
- With the nuts removed, gently rock the toilet back and forth to break the seal created by the wax ring. Once it’s loose, carefully lift the toilet straight up and off the closet bolts.
- Place the toilet on an old towel or blanket to prevent any damage to your bathroom floor.
Step 4: Inspect the Flange
Now that the toilet is out of the way, take a close look at the toilet flange. Here are a few things to check:
- Flange Height: Confirm that the flange is indeed too high. It should sit flush with or just slightly above the finished floor level. If it’s significantly higher, that’s the issue we’re addressing.
- Flange Condition: Check for any cracks or damage in the flange itself. If it’s in poor shape, you may need to replace it entirely.
- Bolt Condition: Inspect the closet bolts (the ones you removed the nuts from). If they’re rusted or damaged, it’s wise to replace them.
Step 5: Adjust the Flange Height
Now comes the fun part – adjusting the flange height. Depending on the situation, you have a few options:
- Use a Flange Extender: If the flange is only slightly too high (less than half an inch), you can use a flange extender. This is a plastic or metal ring that fits on top of the existing flange, raising it to the correct height. Simply place the extender over the flange and secure it with screws. Make sure it’s level with the floor.
- Trim the Waste Pipe: If the flange is significantly too high, you’ll need to trim the waste pipe to the proper height. Measure the distance between the top of the flange (not including the extender) and the finished floor. Use a hacksaw to carefully cut the pipe to the correct height. Be cautious not to create jagged edges that could damage the wax ring seal.
- Replace the Flange: If the flange is damaged or in poor condition, it’s best to replace it entirely. This may require removing the old flange, which can be a bit more involved. Once you have the new flange in place, make sure it’s at the correct height and securely anchored to the floor.
Step 6: Install New Closet Bolts
Whether you’re using a flange extender or replacing the flange, you’ll need to install new closet bolts. These bolts secure the toilet to the flange. Here’s how to do it:
- Place the new closet bolts into the slots on the flange. Make sure they’re evenly spaced and aligned with the bolt holes on the toilet.
- Use a screwdriver or a wrench to tighten the bolts onto the flange securely.
Step 7: Apply Plumber’s Putty
To ensure a watertight seal between the toilet and the floor, apply the plumber’s putty around the base of the toilet. Roll a small amount of putty between your hands to create a rope-like shape, and then press it onto the bottom of the toilet where it will make contact with the floor.
Step 8: Set the Wax Ring Seal
Place a new wax ring seal onto the flange, making sure the wax ring’s tapered side is facing the toilet. The wax ring creates a watertight seal between the toilet and the waste pipe. Gently press it down to ensure it adheres to both the toilet and the flange.
Step 9: Reinstall the Toilet
Now it’s time to put the toilet back in place:
- Carefully lower the toilet bowl onto the closet bolts, making sure they pass through the holes in the base of the toilet.
- Press the toilet down firmly to compress the wax ring and create a good seal.
- Place the washers and nuts onto the closet bolts and tighten them evenly with your adjustable wrench. Be careful not to overtighten, as this can crack the toilet base.
Step 10: Reconnect the Water Supply
With the toilet securely in place, it’s time to reconnect the water supply:
- Reattach the water supply line to the fill valve on the bottom of the toilet tank.
- Use your adjustable wrench to tighten the nut securely.
Step 11: Turn On the Water
Turn the water supply valve back on by rotating it counterclockwise. You’ll hear the tank filling with water. Keep an eye on the tank to ensure there are no leaks around the water supply line.
Step 12: Test for Leaks and Flush
Once the tank is full, give your toilet a test flush. Listen for any unusual noises or signs of water leakage around the base. If everything looks and sounds good, congratulations! You’ve successfully fixed your high toilet flange.
Fixing a high toilet flange might seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a step-by-step guide, you can tackle this DIY project like a pro. Remember, a properly functioning toilet flange is crucial for a leak-free and stable toilet. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can save money on plumbing service bills and enjoy a hassle-free bathroom experience.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is it possible to fix a high toilet flange without removing the toilet?
In most cases, it’s recommended to remove the toilet to access and adjust the flange properly. This ensures a secure and long-lasting fix. However, if the flange extender is the solution, you may be able to avoid removing the toilet.
Can I use something other than a plumber’s putty to create a seal?
While a plumber’s putty is commonly used for this purpose, you can also use a wax ring or a combination of a wax ring and an adhesive gasket. However, the plumber’s putty is effective and easy to work with.
How can I prevent my toilet flange from becoming too high in the future?
To prevent a high toilet flange, avoid over-tightening the closet bolts when securing the toilet. Additionally, be cautious when installing new flooring, as adding multiple layers can raise the floor level.
Can I reuse the wax ring seal when reinstalling the toilet?
It’s not recommended to reuse a wax ring seal once it has been compressed and used. It’s best to use a new wax ring seal to ensure a proper and reliable seal.
What if my toilet flange is too low instead of too high?
If your toilet flange is too low, you may experience problems with waste drainage. In this case, you can use a flange spacer or an extender to raise the flange to the correct height. The process is similar to fixing a high flange, but you’ll be adding height instead of reducing it.