View Full Version : I'm an idiot - broke flange

05-04-2007, 09:56 AM
Ok, I'm goin to start off saying I know absolutely nothing about plumbing. My question is...... I stupidly tightened the toilet too much and broke the flange. At least I think that is what I did. The other side is not broken. Can anyone tell me how much this will cost to repair and what it entails? Thanks!:confused:

05-04-2007, 10:08 AM
cheer up, the toilet is still intact. :)

now that you have had time to recover, mention the material and all that, and people will tell you what next to do.

p.s. are you granite girl?

Gary Swart
05-04-2007, 10:34 AM
There are repair parts for broken flanges, so that shouldn't be too hard or expensive to fix. You should however understand that those flange bolts are not there to pull the toilet down. When you set the toilet into either a wax ring or a wax-less ring, you seat the toilet with downward pressure and gentle rocking until the toilet base rests on the floor. The bolts are then snugged down just a bit more than finger tight. They just hold the toilet from moving. Too much pressure can actually break the toilet, that's why you got off lucky!

05-04-2007, 11:01 AM
No, I'm sorry, I'm not Granite Girl. :D Well, let me give a little background. I'm selling my house and the inspector advised that my toilet is a little loose. I personally couldn't tell at all that it was loose. Just to be sure, I got the bright idea to try to tighten it down. Apparently I tightened it a little too much and I heard a pop. I assume it's the flange by what i've read. What materials do you need to know? My floor is a fairly newly tiled floor and I know there is a wax ring, probably installed within the last 5 years I'm guessing. (I'm sure you are all getting a chuckle out of this!) I haven't taken the toilet up yet. I'm waiting to have help doing that. Thanks!

05-04-2007, 11:04 AM
You may have not positioned the bolt in the flange properly and it just pulled out. Usually, if you overtighten those bolts, you crack the porcelain and have to replace the bowl.

If your flange really is messed up, you have to fix or replace it. This is not such a great job for your first attempt at plumbing.

05-04-2007, 11:08 AM
I don't visibly seen any cracked porcelain. Would it be obvious? Would I just take up the toilet to replace the flange? You are really going to have to dumb this down for me. Thanks.

05-04-2007, 11:13 AM
If you cracked the toilet, it would have been obvious, and your first words would have been "OH SH!T!"

If there is nothing leaking at the base, and the toilet is not rocking, you could get by with just caulking the bottom of the toilet, so that it doesn't move.

05-04-2007, 11:15 AM
There is no leaking but I can pull up the bolt and it doesn't come all the way out but pretty far. Am I making any sense?

05-04-2007, 11:25 AM
We've already established that the bolt has pulled out. You can call a plumber and spend $200 or just push that bolt back in and snap the bolt cover over it. Then just caulk the base.

If the toilet is not leaking and is not wobbly, you should be okay.

05-04-2007, 11:52 AM
hi g.g. just to clear up what i meant. Flanges can be made of many different materials, Brass, ABS, etc, and even partly this or that, and so i thought you had it right in front of you and you could tell us more. But that may be irrelevant now. Also, it may not even be broken.

I read the above, and I thought it made sense that the bolt had slipped out of its slot / groove in the flange. Have you been able to confirm this or see this in any way? You might try loosening the bolt + nut a bit (unscrewing the two a half-turn or so), and then inserting that end piece (the oneinside the toilet base back again into its slot in the flange, although it is a 50%-50% guess whether or not you will have the unobstructed open space to do this and it is true that you cannot even see it. If you can get the bolt head back into its groove, and then tighten it a touch, you'll have achieved your initial goal.


05-04-2007, 12:05 PM
Ok, when I pull the bolt up,as I said before, it comes up quite a bit but not totally out and I'm able to move it around. It's completely covered in wax. I tried to maneuver it around to see if maybe i pulled it out but it seems all I feel is tile or a flat surface underneath. If i do end up pulling the toilet off will I have to purchase a new wax ring? I know the thought of this scares you , as it does me, but i'm having someone help. :o

05-04-2007, 12:12 PM
Thanks Verdeboy and Geniescience. The cap won't even go down on it now because it's sticking up too high. I can't find that groove you are talking about.

Gary Swart
05-04-2007, 12:35 PM
The bolts used to hold toilets on flanges are called "T" bolts. As the name implies, they have a fairly wide, flat top. The bolt pulled out of the flange, possibly because the flange broke, but also it's also possible the flange was not properly oriented so that the bolts fit in the flange properly. The extra pressure you put on the bolt just popped it out of it's slot. It's the bolt head that is preventing you from pulling it all the way out. Trying to reinstall the bolt in the slot would likely be a waste of time and effort. It is not all that difficult to pull the toilet up, inspect the flange and see what actually did go wrong and correct it. Reset the toilet with a new wax ring and you'll be time and money ahead. Once you get the flange exposed and can see what is wrong, then you can go to a plumbing shop and get the parts needed to to the repair. Pulling and resetting the toilet, while not rocket science, does require some physical effort. Experienced plumbers can do this by themselves with their eyes closed, but a novice would be well advised to get a couple of extra hands.

05-04-2007, 12:48 PM
Thanks Gary!! I'll do that and let you know how it works out. You all are a life saver (or as least a sanity saver).

05-04-2007, 02:41 PM
it can be confusing and aggravating to twist turn and slide a heavy toilet around to try align some hidden bolt with a hidden opening at the end of the hidden slot of the hidden flange you get the picture, so i suggest you spend this Friday evening viewing pictures of "closet flanges" on the web, so you can figure out which way to nudge and bump the toilet. It's easier with that mental map in your mind; you feel better pushing the toilet around knowing that you are doing the right thing. :)


05-04-2007, 10:18 PM
The cap won't even go down on it now because it's sticking up too high.
You can cut the top of the bolt with a bolt cutters.

It is not all that difficult to pull the toilet up, inspect the flange and see what actually did go wrong and correct it.
Obviously it's best to have a competent person pull the toilet and find out what's wrong and correct the problem. But if she doesn't know what she's doing, she can create an even bigger problem.

master plumber mark
05-05-2007, 05:02 AM
LENNOX makes a repair flange called a
spanner flange, it looks like a crescent half moon
and has a hole in the middle of it for a new toilet bolt
to go into....

if you broke the plastic off, all you got to do is
get one of those and simply cut the old plastic
lip that you broke out of the way.

then you just tap the spanner flange and bolt inserted
the flange UNDER the present flange ...

then you might want to place a couple of small nails
against the new flange so it wont ever pull out
from under the plastic....

all you have to do from there is re-set the toilet

do not tighten down the other side too much..

they cost about 3 bucks each

it really saves you much greif and misery

05-05-2007, 06:15 AM
here are some pictures of possible solutions

IN the process of removing the toilet to repair the flange, one will need to clean the toilet and replace the "wax ring" seal.

I am sure if you do a search on the fourm here there will be many posts on how to do that, or do a web search there are many pages with picutres on how to "replacing wax toilet" there is even a google video.


The video above is of a goofy guy that has never set a toilet before, but that didn't stop him from making a video of his trial and error way of doing it. Any plumber watching the video should have a good laugh. Terry


05-05-2007, 07:46 AM
YOu are not an idiot. If the flange broke when you tightened the toilet down, then it was ready to break anyway. There are many ways to repair it, but which one is best for you depends on what kind of flange you have now, although you appear to be describing a one piece plastic flange, which is the least desirable of all the ways the toilet could have been originally installed.

05-05-2007, 10:47 AM
if it was lose in the first place then it more than likely needs a new wax ring in the least, so the toilet will more than likely need to be pulled wax ring replaced and the flange repaired or the bolt put back in the slot,

(i have seen situation where the original pipe installer, did not set the toilet flange on the pipe square and the bolts have very little to grab a hold of,

and no one said how old this thing is, it may not have a flange and jsut the lag screw type of toilet bolt and the bolt pulled out of rotten wood.

it may be a very simple problem or a fairly involved problem, either way I don't think one will know until the toilet is pulled and What is under it inspected, then figuring out a proper way to repair it.

and YOU are NOT an idiot, it is one of those "$h!t happens moments".

05-09-2007, 07:50 PM
Guess what everyone.... I pulled the toilet and discovered the flange was ok! I must have just pulled it out when tightening. I re-set with a new wax ring and everything is great. Thanks for all you advice. This forum was a lifesaver!!

05-09-2007, 08:29 PM
well let's thank Terry.

BTW, was it made of brass?