How to Replace A Toilet Flange and wax ring

The toilet flange is the circular component connecting your toilet to the bathroom floor and the drain pipe. Over time, this fitting becomes loose or worn out, and when this happens, many people find themselves pondering how to replace a toilet flange or whether it’s possible at all. Well, it’s possible to replace a toilet flange and you can do it yourself. A worn-out toilet flange leads to leaking which, if left unattended, can lead to irreparable damage. Read on to learn how to replace a toilet flange and wax ring if you are experiencing this problem in your home.

What You Need to Replace a Toilet Flange

Before we get into the materials and tools, how do you know that it’s time to replace your toilet flange and wax ring? Well, there are a few signs to look out for. For instance, when your toilet starts to rock back and forth or water starts to leak at the base of the toilet, it may be time to replace the toilet flange.

While replacing a toilet flange may not be the easier home repair project one can undertake, it’s certainly a DIY project as long as you have the right tools and a bit of knowledge. Tools needed include:

  • Wrench. A wrench is a must-have tool when it comes to replacing a toilet flange. You will need it to loosen the bolts and to remove the ones around the flange. Get an adjustable wrench for the best results.
  • Screwdriver. A screwdriver is another important tool you need to replace a toilet flange. Choose a multi-head screwdriver to remove screws on the toilet with ease.
  • Wax ring. A wax ring will help you hold the flange to the base of the toilet. It seals the connection between the closet flange and the bottom of your toilet.
  • Putty knife. A putty knife is used to scrape surfaces or spread material such as plaster in construction. In our case, we’ll use the putty knife to remove old wax from the flange seal.
  • Bolts and Screws. You will need some bolts and screws to attach your new flange. It’s important to use new bolts and screws as the current ones may be too old and rusty to use.

Don’t forget to get a new toilet flange unit; it’s the most important part of the project. You can get a new one from Amazon, Home Depot, or your local hardware store. Toilet flanges come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so be sure you are getting the right one for your toilet. The best way to ensure that you get the most suitable option is to remove the old one and bring it to the store.

Replacing the Toilet Flange

Now that you have all the tools that you need for this repair, it’s time to get started. Follow the steps below to safely remove your old toilet flange and replace it with a new one.

1-    Drain the Toilet

The first thing you need to do when replacing a toilet flange is empty the water in the toilet bowl. Use the knot on the wall behind the toilet to shut off the water supply. Flush the toilet, leave it to refill, and then flush repeatedly until the toilet bowl is completely drained. Use tarp or newspaper to cover the bathroom floor to make sure that you have somewhere to safely put the toilet once you remove it.

2-    Detach the Toilet

There are two nuts used to secure the toilet to the bathroom floor. These are on the left and right of the base of the toilet. Use the wrench to remove them. Hold on to them as you will need them to reinstall the toilet.

Rock the toilet back and forth to break the wax seal and lift the toilet. Place the toilet on the tarp or newspaper next to the toilet so that you don’t have to move it too far when you remove it. Keep in mind that toilets can be heavy and you might need some help lifting. Lift the toilet straight up to clear the two bolts sticking up through the base.

3-    Take Out the Flange

Use a putty knife to scrape off the wax ring sealing the connection between the flange and the bottom of your toilet. The wax ring will be discolored and deformed, but it should scrape off easily with a sturdy putty knife.

Chunks of the wax will stick on the knife as you work, use a newspaper or a towel to wipe them off. Use the multi-head screwdriver to take off the screws securing the toilet flange to the bathroom floor and hold on to them as you might need them later when reinstalling the toilet flange.

Depending on the state of the toilet flange, you can just reinstall it with a new wax ring instead of getting a new one. However, be sure to replace it if it has chips, cracks, and deformations. Remember that you need the old toilet flange to get the exact replacement.

Remove the flange, clean it, put it in a bag, and head to the nearest hardware store for a replacement. Tuck an old rag into the outflow pipe to block foul sewer smells and gases from escaping. The new toilet flange will come with new bolts and nuts but if for some reason these items are not included, you can use the ones you have been saving in the removal process.

4-    Install the New Flange

Now it’s time to install the new flange. Place the new flange on the outflow pipe to make sure that the neck of the flange fits comfortably into the pipe. Make sure that there are no spaces between the bathroom floor and the flange.

If you notice that the outer edge of the toilet flange is not level with the bathroom floor, there’s probably water damage that needs to be fixed before you move on to the next step. Secure the toilet flange into place using the bolts and screws provided in the packaging. There are pre-cut holes in the flange lip. If nuts and bolts are not available, reuse the old ones.

5-    Reinstall the Toilet

When the new flange is firmly screwed into place, there should be two bolts sticking up on the opposite sides of the flange lip. These are for attaching the toilet. Feed the heads of the two bolts into channels.  Be sure to pick out any pieces of wax rings, loose screws or washers, etc. before you place the toilet.

Remember the rag you used to block foul sewer smells and gases? It’s time to take it out. The next step is replacing the toilet and screwing it into place; you might need some extra muscle to lift the toilet. Tipping the toilet on one side, set the new wax ring on the round mouth underneath the toilet.

Line up the holes on the base of the toilet with the two bolts sticking up. When lowering the toilet into position, try to make sure that you keep it as straight and as perpendicular as possible. As soon as the toilet lands on the flange, firmly press it down next to the back of the bowl to change the shape of the wax ring, sealing the connection. Following this process will guarantee a good seal around the toilet.

6-    Replace the Nuts and Bolts

The next step involves replacing the bolts and nuts to secure your toilet in place. Place the washers and the nut on each bolt and then tighten with your hand. Place the plastic washer first, then the metal one.

Use pliers or a socket wrench to make the nuts extra tight, especially when you are dealing with metal nuts and bolts as these are designed to be tightened with tools. Sometimes the bolts are too long but that shouldn’t be a problem. Use a hacksaw to bring them to the required size and make sure that they fit perfectly.

7-    Restore the Water Supply

At this point, your toilet is fully installed and all you need to do is reconnect the water supply. Rotate the valve at the back of the toilet tank counter-clockwise to turn on the water supply. Wait until the tank is full and flush several times to make sure that everything is working correctly.

Here, you are looking for possible drips or leaks between the toilet tank and the water supply.  If you notice any leaks or drips, you can choose to fix the problem by reinstalling the toilet or simply call your local plumber. If the toilet is dry and there is no wobbling, your DIY toilet flange replacement project has been a success.

A broken toilet flange can lead to many problems in your bathroom. The good news is there are several warning signs that can let you know when you need a new toilet flange. For instance, a toilet that’s rocking back and forth means that there’s certainly something wrong with the flange. Also, leakage from the base of the toilet is most likely a problem with the flange. Watch out for these signs and replace your toilet flange promptly to prevent further damage.

Smith Edwards

Smith Edwards is a licensed plumber and writer with over a decade of hands-on construction and home improvement experience and has been providing home improvement advice for over 12 years.

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