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Thread: Closet (Toilet) Flange Removal

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Closet (Toilet) Flange Removal

    Hey everyone,

    I've been combing through the search to try and see if anyone has had a problem like mine and I've gotten some pretty good ideas from it, but I'd like a little bit more help if you guys don't mind. I'm re-doing a bathroom, and I'm on the floor at the moment. The house was built in 1979. The existing floor was a tile layed in a concrete bed with a wire mesh stapled to the floor. I've pulled all of that up, including what was under the exisiting toilet flange.

    My first question is how do I tell what material the flange is? All I know for sure is that it's not PVC, it's metal of some form. The main stack in the house is black, so I'm assuming that's cast iron. The downstairs bathroom (which I can see the plumbing for in the basement) has all black pipe running the main the stack. Do you guys think it's cast iron then?

    Secondly, this flange isn't level. It's about a half inch higher on one side than the other. It also has a broken groove for one of the two toilet bolts. So it appears that removing it is probably the 'correct' and best way to correct all of these problems. I can not get to the plumbing underneath this bathroom. I really do not want to pull up the subfloor if I can avoid since it's all tounge and groove and it will probably have all sorts of sags afterwards. I saw in some other threads that if I do have a cast iron flange, the lead can be drilled through and the flange can be hammered off. I do not see anything on my flange, at least at the top, that looks like a seam. Nothing appears to be soft either (from scratching it with a screwdriver). The only seam I see looks like it's about 3 or 4 inches down the flange. Any suggestions for removal? I could probably use a hacksaw, but I'll probably be there all week. The flange sits up about a half inch off the floor.

    And last, I've seen some discussion on the PVC expansion adapters and 3" v 4" pipes. The I.D. of this flange further down where that seam I mentioned above was appears to be 2.5". Would any of these adapters work?

    I was originally just going to try and run the hardibacker and tile underneath the existing flange, but I don't think I can get the material under the one side that is low. Maybe I can just build a platform for the flange and use scrap wood and shims as a base for it and just tile up to that?

    Thanks in advance for any help or insights you guys might have
    -Jerry

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    If the flange isn't plastic (PVC or ABS) then it's cast iron. You're headed in the right direction by replacing the flange for the reasons you describe. Since you don't want to pull up the sub floor, your best answer may be to call in a plumber who can have that old flange off and replaced properly in the time it would take you just to find the tools you'd need. This is one connection you want to be right the first time.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If it is a 4" pipe, the flange could be mounted internally, rather than externally. Makes it a little harder to take off I think, but I don't know for sure.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    If it is a 4" pipe, the flange could be mounted internally, rather than externally. Makes it a little harder to take off I think, but I don't know for sure.
    The I.D. of the flange itself is like 4.25" at the very top. Further down the pipe the I.D. is like 2.5"

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Humm, sounds like they used an internal one on a 3" pipe, that's not the best practice; it tends to clog more often. Best wait for one of the pros...
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    If it were a copper flange when you scratch it, it would show the color of the copper. It's probably cast iron, you said it was broken off at the bolt slot, and if it is you can just crack it off with a hammer. Put the new floor down and then use a deep cast iron flange on top of it.

    Scratch the top some more and if it is cast it should show some shiny lead scratches.

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