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Thread: Repair 60 year old toilet installation: wax free toilet seal or flange extender?

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    DIY Junior Member Beowulf62's Avatar
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    Default Repair 60 year old toilet installation: wax free toilet seal or flange extender?

    I have a summer house with a 60 year old cast iron toilet pipe and the original cast iron flange. The problem is the flange is below the old wooden floor level slightly and even with two wax seals we still are getting leakage. Two factors contribute to the problem other than the flange height: the floor is uneven and boards move a little and the toilet rocks slightly; second, the house is unheated during the winter and everything freezes. we have a bit of water damage to the 1" thick floor boards...so I may install a closet flange floor support. But my real question apart from doing a better job of shimming to get rid of the rocking: install a wax free toilet seal as made by Fernco or install a flange extender kit such as made by Set-Rite? All advice appreciated.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    ANY movement of the toilet will break a wax seal...it isn't rubber, once compressed, it stays there. So, if you want to stay with wax, you must stabilize first the floor, then the toilet on the floor. The CI flange should be anchored to the floor so that the relative motion between the floor and it are stopped. Now, if the floor is weak, you really do need to shore that up.

    The waxless seals rely on a soft, large closed cell rubber o-ring for the seal. For these to work, the insides of the pipe must be fairly smooth and clean to start off. On a really old CI pipe, that may not exist, so it won't seal well. There is one company mentioned in previous threads that is making a foam rubber waxless ring that is used in place of a wax ring. That might work for you.

    So, first, shore up the floor so it is strong enough to not deflect. Then, if the inside of the pipe is fairly clean, you could try a waxless seal (Fluidmaster and Fernco are two I'm aware of, not counting the new foam ring). If you try to go with wax, then you'd probably want to either fix the location of the flange - it should be on top of the finished floor, or less desireable, use flange extenders on it to raise it. A double wax ring can work, but it can get risky if you ever need to plunge the toilet...it could create a blowout situation if you get really active with the plunger.
    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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    DIY Senior Member JerryR's Avatar
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    I've used saniseal rings with very good success. They are shaped like wax rings and you can stack 2 of them if needed.
    http://sanisealgasket.com/

    Jerry
    JR

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    DIY Junior Member Beowulf62's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim! This is the only toilet in the house...so, I want to have things well prepared before I set about the repair, as it needs to be done in one day.

    My impression is that I should have a couple of options available when I start...perhaps a temporary solution to tide me over until I can work out the exact repairs needed. I don't think the CI pipe/flange can be moved as it is fixed to the main drain pipe and appears to be supported by the joists/ceiling below the bathroom floor. I can work on bracing the floor of the bathroom (the house was built around 1825 and the toilet was installed around 1947)...there is about 8" between the bathroom floor and the ceiling of the first story below, and this should give room to work.

    I'm pretty sure that raising the flange will require flange extenders, as I don't think the CI pipe can be shifted upwards. It sounds like a waxless seal fitting would be the best approach (assuming as you caution, that the inside of the CI pipe is fairly clean), coupled with bracing the floor to prevent any further movement.

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    DIY Junior Member Beowulf62's Avatar
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    Thanks Jerry...I would still need to work out the movement problem...but do you know if this product can handle being frozen every year better than wax? I think this is a factor that contributes to my problem?

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    You know, considering the amount of work you may be up against, this may be more that a one day job. Renting a portable toilet could be a wise move. They don't cost much for two or three days. As old as this house is, you could really run into a huge can of worms. I would be remiss if I didn't suggest a new Toto toilet while you are at it. If the old toilet is 60 years old, it uses at least 5 gallons of water per flush and perhaps as much as 7 gallons.

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    DIY Junior Member Beowulf62's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    You know, considering the amount of work you may be up against, this may be more that a one day job. Renting a portable toilet could be a wise move. They don't cost much for two or three days. As old as this house is, you could really run into a huge can of worms. I would be remiss if I didn't suggest a new Toto toilet while you are at it. If the old toilet is 60 years old, it uses at least 5 gallons of water per flush and perhaps as much as 7 gallons.
    The present toilet is modern (1.6 gpf...though hairline cracks are appearing in the bottom of the bowl and I will likely replace it with one of higher quality that carries on the "old character") and I helped to install it around 20 years ago. I have also installed the Toto Neorest 500 in our town home...all by my little lonesome...(-: so, no worries mate.

    I am thinking now of adding a 3/8" plate on the floor below the toilet area to serve as a flat stable platform. The floor boards are 1" thick and the cutout for the CI pipe and flange (made back in the 1940s) results in some slight movement...very hard to get underneath to shore it up, without tearing up the floor.

    Thanks for the idea about a portable potty, or we could even use the antique chamber pots we have all over the house....just have to take the cookies out!

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    It appears you are on the right track. You do have to get the floor stable. It does not have to be 100% level, but it does have to be solid. I infer that since this is a summer home, functionality is the main objective, so while a plate might not be suitable for you town home, it would be OK here. As far as the chamber pots are concerned, taking the cookies out first would be my first concern, but taking them out after the toilet was repaired would be. The portable potty is ideal because the rental company will deliver it, pick it up when your finished with the job, and dispose of the contents. Wife and I used one for a couple of weeks one winter when I did a major drain revision in our house. Put it in the garage. It was a tad chilly to use, but other than that was great. With summer weather ahead of us now, you and yours wouldn't have to freeze you tails off, and you could still use your sink drains.

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    Handy Tom how2do's Avatar
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    Hi,
    Just to let you know that I have used the Set-Rite Extender Kit. I can tell you it was a breeze to use. The kit comes with it's own gasket but I opted for the good old wax ring. One of the things that drove me to it, besides the video, was finding out it was IAPMO code approved. I just checked their website...looks like they are 'under construction' but they have a specific page for cast iron flange installation. Good Luck to you.

    Tom

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