How to Remove a Toilet Flange
Last Updated on January 21, 2022 by toilethaven
A toilet flange which is also known as a closet flange is the circular pipe fitting that connects the toilet to the drainpipe and also anchors the it firmly on the floor. Removing and replacing a toilet flange is a simple task which you can comfortably do without calling a plumber.
A toilet flange will either be made of PVC, ABS or cast iron. Modern building are installed with PVC drainpipes while old buildings have cast iron drainpipes.
The problem with cast iron drainpipes is that they become corroded and weak, making it impossible to form a water tight seal with the flange. With time, you will notice the toilet leaking either on the floor on inside the floor making the building dump.
To remove a toilet flange, pull out the toilet and place it aside. Use a screwdriver to remove the flange screws then pull it out after tapping it gently with a hammer. If you have an glued-in or old and corroded cast-iron flange, you will need to cut out sections of it using a reciprocating saw then chisel it out.
Toilet flanges can be glued-in or not. In instances when they are not glued-in, they expand inside the drain line. If a toilet flange is glued-in. it will need to be cut is small portions and then chiseled out when being removed.
In order to remove a glued-in toilet flange, starting by cutting off the lip of the flange using a saw. Next use a reciprocated saw to cut out vertical sections of the flange then chisel them out. Have a rug in the drain to prevent dropping anything inside.
So when should you remove and replace your toilet flange?
- When you have a wobbly/rocking toilet – When you sit on your toilet and you notice that it’s rocking about, it may be time to replace the toilet flange which is most likely broken. It is however not every time that your toilet rocks that you need to replace the flange. Sometimes it’s just a matter of loose toilet bolts.
- When the flange is too high – The toilet flange should ideally be ¼ inch above the finished floor. If it is installed incorrectly, it might be too high. After sometime the toilet will start to wobble which will in turn break the wax seal resulting in a leaking toilet.
- When you have a leaking toilet – When you notice water pooling around the base of the toilet or a leak from the basement sealing, you have a problem with your toilet flange or wax ring or even both.
Choosing the Right Toilet Flange
While replacing your toilet flange, you want to make sure you buy a good replacement for it. Most importantly make sure that it will fit in your drainpipe. A toilet flange sleeve will either be inserted inside the drainpipe or go over the drainpipe.
Modern houses have a 3 or 4-inch drainpipe but you will surely find odd sizes of drainpipes in old buildings. The standard size of a drainpipe is 4 X 3. This means that the top of the flange is 4 inch while the bottom is 3-inch.
If your toilet drainpipe has a 10 or 14 rough-in and you want to install a modern 12-inch rough-in toilet, you may want to install an offset toilet flange.
An offset toilet flange gives you the option of installing the toilet closer or further from the wall by 2 inches. You may also choose to rotate your toilet as you want.
How to Remove a Toilet Flange
The first thing you are going to do is gather together all the materials that you are going to need. Here they are:
- An adjustable wrench
- Reciprocating saw
- Rubber gloves
- Mini-hacksaw (optional)
- Putty knife
- Wood chisel
- Rag/old towel
- Emery cloth
Step 1: Drain the Toilet Tank and Bowl
- Turn off the water to the toilet. Look for a shut off valve on the wall behind the toilet. Turn the valve clockwise and if you have a push/pull valve pull it all the way out.
- Flush the toilet and hold the flushing handle down to remove as much water as possible.
- Lift off the tank lid and place it in a safe place where it cannot fall off and break.
- Using the sponge, soak up the little water still left at the bottom of the tank and squeeze it out into the bowl.
- With a plunger or toilet brush, force the water at the bottom of the bowl down the drain.
- Some water will still be left in the bowl. Use the sponge to soak it up until the bowl is dry. Remember if you don’t remove this water it will spill all over you bathroom once your remove the toilet.
- Disconnect the water supply line from the tank. Loosen the supply coupling with you hand and not a wrench. A wrench may deform it. Only gently use a wrench if it is too tight.
Step 2: Remove the Toilet
- On each side of the toilet bowl you will find 2 bolts. Sometimes the bolts are covered with plastics caps. Pry off the caps with the screwdriver.
- With the adjustable wrench, loosen the 2 toilet bolts and remove the nuts.
- Sometimes the bolts and nuts are so corroded and tight that they just won’t come off. Use a mini-hacksaw to cut off the nuts being careful not to cut the porcelain. If the space is too tight to use a hacksaw, remove the blade and use it alone.
- Hold the toilet on both sides and rock it about to break the wax ring seal.
- When the toilet is loose lift it off and place it gently on some newspapers.
- Stuff the rag or towel in the drainpipe below the toilet flange sleeve. This will prevent sewer gases from coming up into you bathroom and also catch all the loose chippings so that they don’t clog the drains or sewer lines.
- Scrape off the old wax from the top of the flange using a putty knife. Go ahead and also remove the wax ring from the toilet outlet and trash it. You will need to buy another wax ring since a wax ring cannot be reused. Rubber gasket seals are a decent toilet wax ring alternative.
Step 3: How to Remove the Toilet Flange
- The flange is screwed to the floor using 4 screws. Use the screwdriver to remove the screws.
- Position the reciprocating saw flush off the floor and cut off the top part of the flange.
- Use the saw to make vertical cuts round the toilet flange sleeve. Position the saw as vertical as possible to avoid cutting the drainpipe.
- Place the chisel where the flange sleeve meets the drainpipe and give it gentle taps. The several pieces of the flange sleeve will fall on top of the rag in the drainpipe.
- Remove all the flange pieces.
- Use an emery cloth to smooth the inside of the drainpipe.
- While installing the toilet, don’t forget to remove the rag.
And that is how to remove a toilet flange. Sometimes you may not have all the tools required to remove the toilet flange. You may therefore need to improvise where it applicable. For instance you can use a normal saw to cut off the top part of the flange. You can also use a dremel tool instead.