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Thread: Toilet flange advice

  1. #1
    DIY Member Henry Ramsey's Avatar
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    Default Toilet flange advice

    Hi all,

    I need help with anchoring a flange to a hardened concrete floor that's uneven around the base of the drain.

    About 5 years ago I made a temporary repair to my neighbors toilet flange.
    The old cast iron flange (that was leaded on) was busted in two and I replaced it with a new flange. I don't remember what kind except that it was metalic and was *supposed* to be anchored to the floor with bolts. In my admitted ignorance I did not attach the flange to the floor. I could not bolt it down because the concrete around the waste pipe is busted up and uneven. The drill I used with a masonry bit kept walking due to the unevenness and the fact that this concrete is hardened to the extreme made the drill bit make almost no dent at all. (This is a condominium,btw and the entire slab is one piece. Every unit's downstairs floor is like this. I've tried to drill into my slab with no results. It is VERY hard concrete.)

    To compensate for the inability to bolt it I wedged something between the pipe and the metalic flange so it was tight. It has held more-or-less for all this time, but now it's started leaking so it's going to have to be worked on and redone. I'm amazed it lasted as long as it did.

    Now, I want to redo this right for my neighbor. The problem with the concrete around the pipe remains. What do I do about that just pour some concrete mix and make it smooth? I know I'll need a hammer drill do penetrate the concrete is there any specific bit I should use on this super hard concrete? And should I use the metalic flange I used before or a plastic one? How would I mate it to cast iron? There's probably only 2" to 4" of pipe from the floor, btw.

    Anything else I need to know or tell you all? Please let me know.

    Thanks for your help

    Henry
    Money Talks? All it ever says to me is "Goodbye!"

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Are you using a hammerdrill?

  3. #3
    In the Trades Master Plumber 101's Avatar
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    You would in your case have to use a expandable collar that fit's inside the cast. Try to fill arond the collar with a quick and hard drying patch.
    "Labor create's all wealth and therefore that all wealth belong's to Labor"

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    DIY Member Henry Ramsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Master Plumber 101 View Post
    You would in your case have to use a expandable collar that fit's inside the cast. Try to fill arond the collar with a quick and hard drying patch.
    Thanks for your help.
    Can I buy that at Lowes or Home Depot?
    Is there a specific name for the patch? Are you talking a cement?
    I don't trust the people at Lowes or Depot to help me find the right stuff. Please steer me right.
    Money Talks? All it ever says to me is "Goodbye!"

  5. #5
    DIY Member Henry Ramsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    Are you using a hammerdrill?
    No, not so far. That's part of the problem.
    Money Talks? All it ever says to me is "Goodbye!"

  6. #6
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    My preference would be a flange that clamps on the outside of the pipe.
    Like the one below.


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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Hydraulic cement would probably work. It sets very fast, and expands as it does so. I'd probably poke something like a Tapcon bolt into it so I didn't have to drill it out later. The alternative is to patch then drill ater it sets and depending on how much and where, you might just break up the patch. Tapcons come in various types and lengths so you should find one with a flathead and a good diameter.

    Where I live, it is illegal to do any work on a multifamily dwelling (plumbing and electrical) without a permit and a license. Not saying it doesn't happen, but as opposed to liability for yourself in a single family dwelling, you are risking potentially many people if you fail to do something properly. A leak could impact numerous owners' property.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default flange

    The floor is probably a prestressed concrete beam and that concrete is extemely hard. A plumber would just do it correctly and install a new cast iron flange with a lead/oakum joint. Anything else is going to require making the hole larger or trying to anchor to that concrete.

  9. #9
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Interesting how many "temporary" fixes end up being forgotten about until they fail. I would suggest you seriously consider HJ's advise and have a licensed plumber install a new flange properly. Do that and you'll be dead of old age before it fails again.

  10. #10
    DIY Member Henry Ramsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    Interesting how many "temporary" fixes end up being forgotten about until they fail. I would suggest you seriously consider HJ's advise and have a licensed plumber install a new flange properly. Do that and you'll be dead of old age before it fails again.
    Well, I said it was a "temporary fix", but it wasn't meant to be temporary.

    The neighbor was trying to sell her unit and the agent botched the sale and also did major damage hiring a painter who painted over every outlet, and other surface that should have been covered. This made the unit unsaleable. The toilet was moving from someone rocking it back and forth. The agent couldn't sell the unit and when she tried to have the home buyer warranty send out a plumber she made the idiotic mistake of saying she had "moved" the toilet. She didn't actually move it, but she said that and they wouldn't pay for the plumber. My neighbor was broke due to the inability to sell the unit. She was in Seattle, Wa and had to pack up and return to Houston for lack of money. She's still in the same money situation... no money to hire anyone. It's DIY or bust.
    My neighbor did try to sue for the damages to no avail, btw.

    To answer the question about licensing and such: there are no such requirements in my city that I know of. All this would be is a remove/reinstall of a toilet except for the busted flange that needs replacing. Except for the drilling problem this would have been done right the first time.
    Money Talks? All it ever says to me is "Goodbye!"

  11. #11
    DIY Member Henry Ramsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    The floor is probably a prestressed concrete beam and that concrete is extemely hard. A plumber would just do it correctly and install a new cast iron flange with a lead/oakum joint. Anything else is going to require making the hole larger or trying to anchor to that concrete.
    Did they do that back in the 1960s? These units were apartments back in the 1965 or so then converted to condos in 1975.
    Please see my other reply below for the reason a plumber wasn't used in the first place.
    Money Talks? All it ever says to me is "Goodbye!"

  12. #12
    DIY Member Henry Ramsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Hydraulic cement would probably work. It sets very fast, and expands as it does so. I'd probably poke something like a Tapcon bolt into it so I didn't have to drill it out later. The alternative is to patch then drill ater it sets and depending on how much and where, you might just break up the patch. Tapcons come in various types and lengths so you should find one with a flathead and a good diameter.

    Where I live, it is illegal to do any work on a multifamily dwelling (plumbing and electrical) without a permit and a license. Not saying it doesn't happen, but as opposed to liability for yourself in a single family dwelling, you are risking potentially many people if you fail to do something properly. A leak could impact numerous owners' property.
    Ok. Is there a specific brand of cement I need to look for? Is it available at Home Cheapo or Lowes? I'd actually love to score the concrete and bust out a nice neat area around the waste pipe to put this stuff in. But grinding would be too messy.
    I have some experience with creating lots of dust like that (grinding up thinset from this same slab in my own unit) and my neighbor would be none to happy 'bout it. That being the case I think I'm going to have to pour the concrete and drill/screw later since the area around that pipe is uneven. Any idea what the correct diameter/size of screw I'll need is?

    BTW, the flange I used way back when looks like the picture that redwood posted and suggested I use. Assuming it's intact after moving can I still use it or should I switch to the one that fits inside the pipe as previously suggested?

    No problem with the licensing either. The city offers 'homeowner plumbing permits'. I paid for one when I did a shower upstairs. They don't even inspect the work. All you do is sign off that you'll follow code and pay a fee. I doubt it's illegal to pull a toilet and fix the flange. My neighbor can't do it herself and she doesn't have the money for a plumber.
    See my post to Gary Swart for a full explaination as to why a plumber wasn't used to begin with.

    My neighbor's unit is adjacent to mine so there's no problem with leaks or whatever either. This is a downstairs 1/2 bathroom with a concrete slab beneath. She's not using the toilet for the time being and this'll be fixed as soon as we find the time.
    Last edited by Henry Ramsey; 09-05-2008 at 10:24 PM.
    Money Talks? All it ever says to me is "Goodbye!"

  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Hydraulic cement is a type of cement, not a brand name. Many companies make it. It is generally sold in a small bucket or box. Read the instructions carefully and mix up what you need with water as directed. Also note the time you have to do what you need to...it sets quickly. You probably won't need a full bucket of the stuff. If it's lumpy when you open it, it got wet or is old...it won't work right, take it back.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  14. #14
    DIY Member Henry Ramsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Hydraulic cement is a type of cement, not a brand name. Many companies make it. It is generally sold in a small bucket or box. Read the instructions carefully and mix up what you need with water as directed. Also note the time you have to do what you need to...it sets quickly. You probably won't need a full bucket of the stuff. If it's lumpy when you open it, it got wet or is old...it won't work right, take it back.
    Yes, I knew it was a type of cement I was asking if there was a brand-name preference. Looking at Lowes' stock there's only one brand available though; quickcrete.

    It's moot now though. I pulled the toilet and found that someone has made some changes after I did what I did. They filled in the area more than I remember it was filled when some peel-stick vinyl was placed on the floor. All I need to do now is set the new flange I purchased.

    My next question is about the flange: The one I got was all Home Depot has. (I tried Lowes too, but they only had CI(no PVC for fitting into CI) and was over $30 for it.)

    The PVC flange I got has three adjustment bolts to lengthen/shorten the extension into the pipe and there's a rubber gasket around it.

    I'm stumped though as to how to properly adjust those bolts.
    Does the extension being shortened somehow tighten the seal between the pipe and the rubber or...?

    I have tapcon screws to hold the flange to the floor and a proper drill bit for their size/length. Once I figure out about the bolts I'm ready to finish this.

    Oh, one more thing: how do I orient the slots of the flange? There are only two slots so I have to get it right so the toilet will be squared off to the back wall.
    Money Talks? All it ever says to me is "Goodbye!"

  15. #15
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    As to the slots, they should be equidistant to the wall (i.e., parallel to the wall) so when you insert the anchor bolts, they are on the left and right side of the toilet. Not familiar with that particular flange, but are there any screw or hex slots? You need to find something that will expand the flange so it will seal on the inside of the pipe.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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