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Setting your toilet flange height can make the difference between a properly functioning toilet and a leaky toilet. Proper flange height also allows you the freedom to choose your materials from what is readily available and prevent issues with installation and maintenance.
What Is A Toilet Flange?
The toilet flange is a round disc, usually made from plastic, that also includes a sleeve that connects your toilet to the sewer line. Toilet flanges are typically PVC and are readily available at most hardware and home improvement stores.
Toilet flanges are inexpensive and will come with several holes pre-drilled that are for securing your flange with bolts. Installing a new toilet with a new flange is a relatively easy process that you can do yourself within the span of a few hours.
Flanges are essential because they create a seal between your toilet and the sewer line. Without this firm seal odors, and leaks may occur that are both unpleasant and unhygienic. Leaks in this area can also cause rotting in the surrounding materials that make up your floor and are generally best avoided at all costs.
Before installing your flange, consider your flooring height, and if possible install your flooring. Flanges can be dropped in place and secured with few other materials required, but their height is essential.
Installing a Toilet Flange
Connecting a new toilet flange starts with removing the toilet to expose the flange underneath. There are typically several bolts that hold the toilet in place against the wax seal and flange so be sure to loosen those first and save the hardware for later if you intend to reuse it.
Here’s A Video On How To Install A Toilet Flange On Tile Floor:
Out with The Old
Below the toilet, you’ll see the flange which should also be secured with bolts or similar hardware. If the height of your flange needs to be adjusted, remove the bolts and flange so that repairs can be made and the flange height adjusted.
Older flanges may be made from metal and not PVC like most other modern flanges. While it is still possible to get metal flanges, PVC ones work just as well and are far less costly.
Depending on how high your flange needs to reach, there are different styles of flanges available. The optimum toilet flange height is approximately ¼ inch above the floor to achieve the best seal and overall fit.
Purchase A New One
If the previous flange is too low, purchase one that is designed to sit on the finished floor and provide the optimum toilet flange height. These models may feature an additional metal or plastic ring that sets directly on the polished floor but is hidden by your toilet once it is reinstalled.
A flange that is too high will also cause plumbing issues and may keep the toilet from covering the hardware beneath it and sitting correctly on the floor. To fix this, you may need to trim the PVC pipe beneath to lower the flange to its proper height.
Take great care in cutting the PVC pipe, as it is difficult to fix if you remove far too much. Instead, remove a modest amount and double check to make sure the flange will rest adequately and create a good seal.
The New Flange
When ready to install the new flange, the process is the reverse of how the older one uninstalled. First seat the flange where it should go and confirm that the toilet flange height will not be more than a ¼ inch above the finished floor. Make any needed adjustments and purchase the best new flange.
Traditional flanges used if the toilet flange height is already correct. However different models exist to address flanges that are too low as well. Once you have the proper flange, install it by securing it with bolts, called closet bolts, to the plumbing line beneath it.
Bolts Snugly Secure
Secure these closet bolts snugly as they will help prevent the toilet from moving or any of the plumbing from shifting. Using a nut and washer is the best course of action, but sturdy bolts will also work. Washers can make removing the hardware easier later on. Install the toilet washers and nuts at this time as well and secure firmly.
With the flange well secured in place, it’s time to add the wax seal. The kind of wax seals that include a ring of poly in the center will provide a tremendous long-lasting seal that can last for years. These wax rings are also inexpensive and available where flanges are also for sale.
Put A Wax Seal
Seat the wax seal on the flange, so it surrounds the center opening and does not cover any part of it. Then set the toilet over that, being extra careful not to bend the toilet bolts as you make finer adjustments and seat the toilet properly in its place.
Extra thick versions of the wax seals are available; however, if your flange is the correct height, they are usually not needed. It is not advisable to use multiple wax rings to make up the height difference of the flange because this will very likely cause leaks and other problems over time.
Seating the Toilet
Once the toilet is sitting on the flange and wax ring, it is time to make sure it is level before securing it with the bolts. Gently try to rock the toilet from both sides and front and back. A correctly installed toilet should not move in either direction and should sit evenly on the floor.
If the toilet rocks back and forth, add shims to level it out and eliminate the rocking. There is no correct number of shims that should be used but be sure to carefully remove all rocking and use as many shims as is needed.
Bolt Down The Toilet
Once the toilet is level, you can trim away the shims and bolt down the toilet. So it’s secured in its final position. When tightening bolts, firmly press the toilet against the wax seal evenly. And ensure no leaks or air can escape. Be careful to tighten the bolts until snug and avoid over-tightening them to prevent cracking the toilet.
After the toilet is snugly bolted down and has achieved a firm seal. The next step is to caulk around the base of the toilet. Seal it to the floor and prevent water from getting in. Caulking the bottom of the toilet will keep shims from working out and hide them from sight.
Caulking the base can prevent a movement over time and make the area easier to clean. Caulk seals out dust and dirt that may otherwise be impossible to clean from under the toilet.
Other Helpful Tips For Toilet Flange Height
When installing a new toilet flange, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure the process runs as smoothly as possible. While installing a toilet flange can be quite easy, those who are doing it for the first time should keep these tips in mind:
- Finish each step in order
- Carefully measure when needed
- Don’t skimp on the finish work
When working on plumbing related tasks, the best thing you can do is be patient and work through problems slowly. For example, older flanges are difficult to remove. But before getting out a crowbar, try knocking it gently with a rubber mallet. That is less likely to damage your floor and the plumbing underneath.
As with any process, patience can also ensure that you do not skip critical steps. That can result in unfortunate consequences later on. Paying careful attention and finishing it before moving on to the next step. Will ensure that your toilet is free from leaks and escaping odors.
It’s ok if your flange sits a little high or a little low. But to know which way it measures before you go to the store and buy a new flange. There are few choices in both flanges and wax seals to address flanges that are too low. But a different procedure might be needed if the flange is too high.
Carefully measuring will ensure that you know which flange is right for your toilet. And which wax seal is the best accompaniment for the job. Using a thicker wax seal is not the best idea in every situation. And a flange of proper height will seal better with a standard wax seal.
Attention to Detail and Finish Work
Making sure your toilet is level, and well-sealed can prevent you. From having to uninstall and reinstall it later when it starts to leak or emit sewage smell. Proper finish work and attention to detail can go a long way. With plumbing projects as they are infrequently. Ones that individuals would care to repeat in a few months.
Shimming the toilet, caulking, and using the correct parts will all help. To ensure that your toilet is installed correctly and working well for years. Without needing much more than regular maintenance.