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Thread: broken bolt on cast iron toilet flange

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member BackedUp's Avatar
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    Default broken bolt on cast iron toilet flange

    Hi all, I ran across this forum when researching new toilets and ran across it again when searching for how to remove a rusted/broken toilet flange closet bolt, as seen in the attachment. The right one crumbled while removing the nut, even though it took very little force. The left one doesn't look a whole lot better. I read several threads such as these that indicate I should have a t-slot to slide the old bolts out of, but I don't see anything obvious.

    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/show...how-to-proceed
    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/show...ge-replacement

    I'm guessing my bolts are threaded into the flange? I can just barely slide a paint scraper under the flange where the bolts are, and I don't detect a nut on either. If they are threaded in, would they be regular or reverse threaded? Or is this even in the DIY realm?
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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    That is lead bent over. What you have are screws into the wood floor.
    You can eithe pick up new screws for that, or use a "repair ring" over the lead to hold new closet bots.


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    DIY Junior Member BackedUp's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick reply! How would I remove the screws exactly? That's definitely the best option if it's doable. I don't see or feel any slots on the top of the unbroken one. Is it just a matter of gripping it with channel locks and turning counter-clockwise?

    How would the repair ring work as far as lining up with the existing bolts and still having slots in the right spot for the toilet? It seems like they would end up being in the same place.

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    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BackedUp View Post
    How would the repair ring work as far as lining up with the existing bolts and still having slots in the right spot for the toilet? It seems like they would end up being in the same place.
    You're not envisioning what you have. Forget about slots. Right now, there aren't any. You have lead bent over a metal ring. The installer put screws through the ring and directly into the wooden subfloor below. Those screws provide a way to secure the toilet directly to the subfloor. No slots, no sliding t-shaped upside-down closet bolts pulling up on the flange. Screws. Directly into the floor. Follow?

    If you want to try to remove the old screws and replace them, your channel locks might be one way, for sure. Others may have better suggestions than this. Given how they look, I wouldn't be surprised however if the screw snaps off in the hole.

    If you use the repair ring, you would cut off the old screws, flush with the flange, and secure the repair ring to the subfloor with screws in those outer holes. Its only purpose is to give you a place to put the t-shaped upside-down closet bolts and secure the toilet to the floor (i.e. to the ring). Secure ring to floor; secure toilet to ring.

    The wax ring, on the other hand, is a standard diameter and that diameter will fit INSIDE the repair ring, so it is sealing to the original flange. Make sense?

    And do yourself a favor: get a set of closet bolts that has two washers and two nuts. Put the bolt in the slot, and secure it to the repair ring using the first nut and washer, then mount the toilet and use the second nut and washer to secure the toilet. That way, the closet bolt will stand up nice and straight, right where you put it, and the bolts won't spin in the flange when you try to remove the toilet years hence. (The shape of the closet bolt should prevent this, but years of decay can yield this result.)

    When you mount the toilet, put the wax on the floor, not on the toilet, regardless of what the directions say. That way, it's right where you want it when you put the toilet straight down on the wax.
    Last edited by wjcandee; 03-25-2013 at 10:37 PM.

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    DIY Junior Member BackedUp's Avatar
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    Thanks, that explanation helps a bundle. I'll try removing the screws in the morning. Worst case scenario, they snap off and I'm right back to where I would be with the repair ring, needing to cut them off flush anyway.

    Is the lead-over-metal a common method of installing flanges in older houses? I didn't run across that when looking for solutions, but I also wasn't searching for those terms. All of the explanations I found referred to t-slot type setups.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    They were seldom "lead over metal". Usually it is just lead over wood floor, which is probably what you have.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Junior Member BackedUp's Avatar
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    No luck removing the screws, so I guess I'll have to cut them off. I picked up two repair rings and a riser ring at Ace to try out, but none of them extend beyond the outside edge of the current flange. They didn't have anything that looks like Terry's photo. Should I try drilling into the lead as a mounting point or keep looking for different options?

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You could buy some 'hanger' bolts, which have a wood screw on one end, and the standard screw thread on the other. After removing the old ones, just screw those in (you put a couple of nuts on the top end, and use that like the head of a bolt to screw it into the floor - two nuts, tightened together won't jam tight at the end of the threads if you only used one, and let you take them off after installation). It would be best if you could find them in brass or SS, but I do not know if they make them in other than plated steel, which will likely rust eventually.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member BackedUp's Avatar
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    I saw those hanger bolts at the store and thought they'd be perfect if only I could remove the old ones intact! The ones I saw were brass. Good thinking on the back to back nuts, I'll give that a try.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I would suggest you try Vise Grip pliers to remove the bolts. Channel Locks are great for many things, but you need a very tight grip on these bolts that is very hard to get with Channel Locks.

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    DIY Junior Member BackedUp's Avatar
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    I had the same thought an hour ago, so I sprayed the broken bolt with some WD-40 and let it soak while running some errands. No luck so far with the vise grips, though. That thing is probably fused in there from years of corrosion. However, that could work to my advantage if cutting it off. That might then be as good as a solid chunk of metal to anchor a new bolt into.

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    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BackedUp View Post
    No luck removing the screws, so I guess I'll have to cut them off. I picked up two repair rings and a riser ring at Ace to try out, but none of them extend beyond the outside edge of the current flange. They didn't have anything that looks like Terry's photo. Should I try drilling into the lead as a mounting point or keep looking for different options?
    Ace sucks for plumbing stuff, so forget it.

    No you shouldn't drill into the lead. When someone like Terry or HJ suggests what to do, they're telling you how to do it right. You can't half-ass this or you're going to screw it up. Take the time to get the right part, put it in right, and you will be able to forget about this for the next 20 years. Half-ass it, and you're going to end up remembering this week for a long time.

    Here's a repair ring: http://www.amazon.com/Lasco-33-3738-...ywords=33-3738

    and here: http://www.lowes.com/pd_22062-943-21...ing&facetInfo=

    And here: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Superior-...1#.UVIJghz5mSo

    Or go to your local plumbing supply house, where the pros go (look it up in the yellow pages), and take a picture of what Terry showed you. They'll have one, probably a good one.

    Keep us abreast of your progress. We're eager to help.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wjcandee View Post

    No you shouldn't drill into the lead. When someone like Terry or HJ suggests what to do, they're telling you how to do it right.
    You seem to have missed that Terry said just put in new screws OR use a repair ring...
    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 wjcandee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    You seem to have missed that Terry said just put in new screws OR use a repair ring...
    No...I meant that rather than try to attach a different kind of repair ring by screwing through the lead, he should go get the kind Terry recommended and secure the thing to the floor outside of the lead. It's not like that kind of ring is hard to find, except, apparently, at his local Ace. Why make four penetrations in the lead when you can secure it to the floor directly and in more places with the other kind of ring? Certainly, removing the old screws and putting in new ones is an option, but one that seems to be less-than-viable the more he tries it.

  15. #15
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Unless it's a concrete slab, getting the bolts out shouldn't be all that hard. As long as the lead is intact, that's probably the best thing. A repair ring introduces another joint that needs to be sealed (not that hard, but still), otherwise it can leak.
    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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