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Thread: How do you remove a toilet set in plaster of paris?

  1. #1

    Default How do you remove a toilet set in plaster of paris?

    Tried to remove my Mom's toilet to check the wax ring, etc as it was leaking at the floor rear with every flush. I did a couple in my time but this one wouldn't budge. Learned the person who installed it set it in Plaster of Paris. Tried some medium pushes, pulls, shocks with the palm of my hand, and using a mini carbide hand saw around the perimeter but that went nowhere slowly. Someone told me a good swift kick usually works for him but I'm reluctant as it's a medium priced one piece unit. Any suggestions? How much of a shock can a toilet take?
    Last edited by shorecat99; 09-04-2012 at 08:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    Give it a good shot with the palm of your hand.

    John

  3. #3

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    I did but will try again.. Any particular spot better than others for taking a shock? At the base? The rim? It's a American Standard one piece elongated unit if that makes a difference.

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    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    The rim is a strong point on the toilet.

    John

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Setting a toilet in plaster of Paris is a really handyman piece of work. Given that, I would be suspect of other problems once you get the toilet off and the flange exposed. There are basically two reasons a wax ring can leak. One, if the toilet rocks and moves. That' not going to be the case the way the toilet was set in plaster. Two, poor plunging technique can blow the ring out. Maybe a pro can list some other ways. I don't want to rain on your parade, but don't be surprise if you find some other strange things.

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    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    Setting a toilet in plaster of Paris is a really handyman piece of work. Given that, I would be suspect of other problems once you get the toilet off and the flange exposed. There are basically two reasons a wax ring can leak. One, if the toilet rocks and moves. That' not going to be the case the way the toilet was set in plaster. Two, poor plunging technique can blow the ring out. Maybe a pro can list some other ways. I don't want to rain on your parade, but don't be surprise if you find some other strange things.
    There was a time when that was the way toilets were set before they had wax seals. They were set in a mixture of plaster of paris and plumbers putty. After that along came wax but it wasn't the preformed wax we use today. It came in buckets and the void on the bottom of the bowl was filled with it. So your statement about being a handyman piece of work is incorrect.

    John

  7. #7

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    I appreciate your input Gary.. It goes into an old lead bend into cast iron partially set in concrete but I do have some exposure from the basement. Have been researching everything up to driving a donut in the cast iron in case I have to convert to pvc or abs if I have to take it that far. Framing and woodworking I'm comfortable with. The only real thing I feel I might have a problem with would be getting the right size donut (considering I can get the toilet off without destroying it). Thanks for the heads up!
    Last edited by shorecat99; 09-05-2012 at 07:37 PM.

  8. #8

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    And, thanks John. I was thinking the rim may be a good spot to give it some strong but cushioned blows. Your comment makes me feel better about trying that. I'll find out on the weekend. Thanks again.
    Last edited by shorecat99; 09-05-2012 at 07:30 PM.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    A good kick on the outside of the rim usually frees it, UNLESS it is set into the tile with grout around it. THen you have to cut the grout out first. In 60+ years, I have set a lot of toilets with plumber's putty, but have NEVER used Plaster of Paris or buckets of wax.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  10. #10
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    Maybe not in Arizona but in New England it was very common. Most were on lead bends and some without flanges.

    John

  11. #11

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    I guess I got lucky. Yesterday gave it 2 or 3 rather hard smacks with both hands against the rim and it broke free with the toilet in one piece. Took some tiles with it. Better than leaving part of the toilet on the floor! I really don't know if that was Plaster of Paris or something else. Really hard stuff! A little tan in color. I thought plaster was white? Replaced some tiles that came loose around the perimeter on the floor but leaving those that are not coming out of the toilet where they are. Don't want to risk cracking it with any more chisseling. As long as the perimeter is solid and the concrete or cement floor underneath is too, I imagine it'll be ok to set them back in the void they were lifted from. Just chiselled the ridges down so there is a little space. Will use shims and a little caulk when putting it back down. BTW, it seems it was just at the wax ring that it failed. Surprising the old lead bend and brass flange seem solid. Did a couple of test pours with buckets of water as a test. Didn't replace it yet. Let the tile set - then some grout. Thanks again.

  12. #12
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    I'd say you were lucky. That's not plaster of paris. If it was they wouldn't have used a wax seal. It looks more like grout to me. I don't think I would try to remove the remains of what ever it is on the bowl.

    John

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