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Thread: New toilet installed - not flush to the floor in the front

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member jeff_bathroom's Avatar
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    Default New toilet installed - not flush to the floor in the front

    Hi,
    this is my third full bathroom remodel and it's the master bathroom.
    It's been a long, long, haul but it's looking pretty nice. I just finished installing
    the towel bars, toilet paper fixture and finally the toilet. As the title indicates,
    I have quite a space in the front...maybe 3/16". It's fairly flush from about
    a third of the way from the front to the back. I tested the plumbing, flushed
    etc and no leaks. But, I'm concerned about that space in the front. If a big boy
    like me leans forward putting my weight on the front, will that break the seal?
    And, what to do about it if anything. I will caulk the gaps to make it look good.
    I have not had to do that with my two other toilet installations where I also did the floor tiling.
    I was pretty careful to try to make the tile flat around the toilet. I dry-layed the toilet
    and saw how bad it was going to be. Maybe I should have stopped there but I went
    ahead and installed the wax seal and tightened it down. By the way; I turned the toilet
    upside down and took a level to it. Seems the toilet isn't very flat. That normal?
    I was thinking of "softly" inserting some wood shims in the front, binging them
    in just til they're snug, but not enough to mess with the seal. Then caulk around
    it all. Sound ok? Or does anyone have a suggestion. By the way; I thought about
    grouting around the base which would solve the problem. But, I use epoxy grout
    and I thought it would probably be horrible to try to remove the toilet some day
    if a leak occured. That epoxy is so darned hard to remove. Anyway, that's the situation.
    Thanks for any suggestions.

    Jeff

  2. #2
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I see some bowls at the home centers that wobble like a rocking chair. I won't install them.
    If a bowl needs shimming, the make sure it's is the back that is shimmed, not the front. If you rock the bowl back and forth, it will break the seal, and you will be redoing the tile when the floor is ruined.
    Use a water base caulk; grouting the bowl to the tile may mean breaking it out with a hammer when there is a problem.
    Don't' laugh, we do it all the time. Just remember to wear eye protection and watch the sharp slivers of broken glass like porcelain.

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    DIY Junior Member dugfresh's Avatar
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    I think it really depends on how far the gap extends. If its just the tip of the front of the footprint it probably wouldn't have enough leverage to lift the seal. If its a good ways back that isn't contacting, I would replace the bowl. Porcelain plumbing fixtures are hand made and will often warp slightly when fired. There will be imperfections from manufacturing ( I just went through major replacements with a major manufacture ) most are cosmetic, but some can lead to failure.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member jeff_bathroom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    I see some bowls at the home centers that wobble like a rocking chair. I won't install them.
    If a bowl needs shimming, the make sure it's is the back that is shimmed, not the front. If you rock the bowl back and forth, it will break the seal, and you will be redoing the tile when the floor is ruined.
    Use a water base caulk; grouting the bowl to the tile may mean breaking it out with a hammer when there is a problem.
    Don't' laugh, we do it all the time. Just remember to wear eye protection and watch the sharp slivers of broken glass like porcelain.
    Hi Terry, man that's news that some are not manufactured correctly. At least you'd think there would be some quality control that
    would have kicked in.
    Why do you say that I shouldn't shim in the front? That's the place where the gap is.

    Thanks,

    Jeff

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member jeff_bathroom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dugfresh View Post
    I think it really depends on how far the gap extends. If its just the tip of the front of the footprint it probably wouldn't have enough leverage to lift the seal. If its a good ways back that isn't contacting, I would replace the bowl. Porcelain plumbing fixtures are hand made and will often warp slightly when fired. There will be imperfections from manufacturing ( I just went through major replacements with a major manufacture ) most are cosmetic, but some can lead to failure.
    Looking at it head on, the gap is primarily on the middle and right front corner. The left front is almost touching and does touch
    going back an inch or so. The gap on the right front coner extends about a third of the way back. Before I installed it
    I could rock it forward and back diagonally to touch that right front corner. I don't trust some wax and two small bolts
    to keep it from eventually failing. So, I'm curious why Terry said not to shim in the front. It's either that or I have
    to replace it. The sub-floor wasn't perfect, but I know it was not that bad and I do tile very flat. If a corner sinks
    into the thinset, I pull it and start over. If it's sitting up, I'll press it down til it's as flat as it can be. Tavey Puck user.
    Thanks for your help.

    jeff

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    Engineer Furd's Avatar
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    I think that Terry advises against shimming in the front because it places an abnormal amount of stress on the toilet at the point of shim placement. If you shimmed to mostly fill the gap AND used shims that would not compress (i.e. not wood) it would probably be okay. You would have to cut the shims even with the toilet and then caulk over the shims. It may also look a bit funky.

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you put a straight-edge on the toilet and it is way off, replace it. Otherwise, it's better to rock it forward for most problems and shim the back. That places the porcelain on the floor rather than on a single point(s) where the most pressure will be applied as you get on and off the toilet. And, a caulked gap at the back is less noticeable than a big one at the front.
    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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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    We push the front of the bowl down in front, and shim the back if needed. The shims go in before the nuts are tightened down. The movement is taken out, before any tightening.
    Consider this, whoever sits on the bowl, will be sitting on the near end of the bowl, so if the bowl isn't touching before, it soon will be touching when someone sits down, or uses their hand at the front to push themselves up.
    We also try to eliminate any gap in front that would require building up the caulking. Since we don't caulk the back of the bowl, that's a perfect place to leave up in the air. That and you don't have small boys "behind" the toilet peeing on the floor like you would at the front. Installing toilets

    Last edited by Terry; 03-25-2011 at 05:01 PM.

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    DIY Senior Member jeff_bathroom's Avatar
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    Thanks Terry and everyone else for the education.
    I'm not looking forward to removing the toilet since it's completely
    installed. However, I did accidentally buy the wax seal twice,
    so I have a spare. I guess the good news is that nobody's used
    the toilet yet. Any preference for shims? Another blog suggested
    lead rather than wood.

  10. #10
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Lead? Are you kidding me? I don't know anyone in construction that would use that.
    You realize that they are banning lead every chance they get. It's a $32,000 fine to remove a wall that has lead paint on it improperly now.

    The best shims are in the door department, and they are about six inches long and plastic.

    Last edited by Terry; 03-25-2011 at 06:29 PM.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member jeff_bathroom's Avatar
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    Terry, I see your point. Sounded like a technically good idea though as it may form-fit a little bit.
    Thanks for the photo; I've never seen plastic shims. I'm guessing they're made to crack
    off like wood.
    Part of me wants to stuff something under the front and caulk, but I won't do that.
    I've put too much into this remodel.
    Thanks everybody for the great advise.

    Jeff

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member jeff_bathroom's Avatar
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    Hi Terry,
    I decided to take your advice and shim in the back using those plastic shims you get in the door and window dept.
    I removed the toilet, scraped off the old wax, etc. I had to shim a lot on the back left and just a little on
    the back right. Now the front is reasonably flat and there was no rocking prior to tighting down the bolts. I was going to
    caulk in the back, but you really can't see the gaps unless you're looking hard. The right side is covered mostly by the vanity and the
    big gap in the left rear is in a corner against the wall. The ideal situation. I think caulking part of it would only draw attention to it.
    Many thanks to you and everyone who chimed in to help out. You're my favorite plumbing forum for sure. John Bridge is my
    favorite tiling site. Between the two of you, I've about completed the remodeling of my entire house including three bathrooms.
    Thanks so much; you guys are great !

    Jeff

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