How to Replace a Toilet Flange?

Are you ready for some dirty work?

Replacing a toilet flange is not the cleanest of bathroom projects, but at least you don’t need a plumber to do it. You’re gonna have to move the entire fixture to reach the flange, so let’s waste no more time on introductions.

Let’s see how to replace a toilet flange in eight steps!

Tools You’ll Need to Replace a Toilet Flange

It doesn’t take many tools to replace a toilet flange. You probably have some of them at home, so you won’t need to purchase many new items. Here’s what you need:

  • A new flange to replace the broken toilet flange
  • A new wax ring — you should never use the old one
  • A pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands and skin
  • A sponge to pick excess water from the toilet
  • A small bucket to collect water
  • An adjustable wrench to unscrew bolts and nuts
  • A flathead screwdriver to open the tank lid and secure some bolts
  • Old towels or newspaper to collect dirt and water
  • A putty knife to remove the old wax ring

How to Replace a Toilet Flange?

Now that you have the right tools, you can remove the old closet flange and install a new model. It’s a step-by-step process, so make sure to follow each tip precisely.

Step 1: Empty the Toilet

The first task is to turn off the water supply. Do it by closing the shutoff valve, a small knob behind the toilet. You must turn the knob clockwise, but sometimes the shutoff valve won’t shut off.

In this case, it’s best to use WD-40 penetrating oil to soften the knob. Spray the valve with penetrating oil and let it rest for a few minutes. After that, you can probably close it with your hands.

The second task is to flush the toilet — press the flush lever a bit longer to release the water from the tank. Once done, open the tank lid with your hands or a flathead screwdriver.

It allows you to see the inside of the tank and pick the remaining water with the sponge. You can use the same tool to empty the toilet bowl — just put the sponge down and let it soak. You can drain the water into the bucket.

Step 2: Uninstall the Toilet

The next step is to remove the toilet from its place. It’s a heavy piece of equipment, so be careful when maneuvering around the bathroom — you don’t want to hurt your back or break the bowl. 

Begin by placing several old towels on the floor around the bowl. Remove the water supply hose that goes from the shutoff valve to the toilet tank. It’s a simple job as you only need to unscrew the nut holding it in its place.

When you remove the hose, you should detach the tank, too. The tank has a pair of bolts on the sides, so it’s necessary to unscrew them with an adjustable wrench. In the meantime, be careful not to drop any screws or bolts into the toilet bowl.

Place a bucket under the tank before detaching it to avoid unpleasant water leakages. Now you can put the tank aside, preferably on newspapers or dry towels.

The next step is to unscrew the bolts from the toilet bowl. There is probably one bolt on each side of the bowl — hold its threaded nut with one hand while unscrewing with the other. When you do that, the bowl will wobble if you push it.

Remove the bowl, and you’ll notice the old closet flange on the floor. Our suggestion is to seal it with an old towel to prevent bad odors and nasty sewer smell.

Step 3: Check the Old Flange

Now it’s time to take a look at the old flange, especially if you’re not sure whether you need to replace it. First, remember to clean the area around the toilet flange — use a putty knife to remove the old wax ring because it firmly sticks to the flange.

Some parts of the wax seal will also be on the toilet bowl’s bottom, so remember to remove them from down there as well.

After that, unscrew the bolts on the flange. Do it with a screwdriver to release the flange from the outflow pipe. The flange is now free, and it’s time to give it a proper examination.

If it’s in good condition — without any cracks — you can replace the wax seal only. But if you notice cracks or holes in the toilet flange, make sure to replace it as well.

Step 4: Get a New Toilet Flange

The diversity of toilet flanges will probably surprise homeowners who need to replace their flanges. Flanges come in different shapes and dimensions to fit all plumbing systems and toilet styles.

You can find regular, deep-seal, and offset flanges. They also come in different materials like plastic, brass, stainless steel, and copper. A PVC flange is the most popular, especially in a four-inch diameter. 

But you should always measure your flange before you buy a new one. Alternatively, you can purchase the same model to replace the old flange.

Step 5: Install a New Toilet Flange

Now that you’ve bought a new flange, it is time to install it. Put the new flange on the outflow pipe — it should take the same position as the old model. Place it vertically so that the flange perfectly fits the round-shaped cast iron pipe.

The neck of the new flange should fit tightly into the pipe. After that, set the new bolts and screw them to press the flange tightly against the bathroom floor.

Sometimes the old bolts are fine, which means you can reinstall them and save the new parts for the next flange replacement. It is up to you and your future bathroom remodeling plans.

Step 6: Put On a New Wax Ring

Now that the flange sits firmly on the outlet drain, you can put the new wax ring over it. This is the easiest solution because you can place the wax seal in the center without worrying about accuracy.

Another option is to install the wax seal on the toilet bowl first. In this case, you will place it on the bottom of the toilet bowl. Put the ring on the bowl’s outlet by pressing it tightly — the seal should occupy the area around the outlet hole.

What matters the most is to avoid pressing the ring too hard. Keep in mind that it’s a wax ring — if you push it too firmly, it may deform in the process.

Step 7: Reassemble the Toilet

Now that your toilet flange and wax ring are in place, it’s time to reassemble the entire toilet. Start by putting the bowl on the bathroom floor – it should sit directly above the toilet flange.

Put a pair of new rubber washers on top of the bolts, which secure the bowl to the ground — it will prevent toilet base leaks. After that, you can focus on installing the toilet tank. Here’s how it goes:

  • Put the tank on top of the rubber gasket
  • Secure it with a couple of bolts — use the wrench to turn them clockwise
  • Cover the tank with the lid

Almost everything is in the right position now, so you can attach the water supply hose. The metal tube is hanging from the shutoff valve, so take it with your hands and connect it to the toilet tank.

Keep it firmly against the tank until you screw the lock nut holding the supply hosepipe. When you do it, your toilet is ready for work again.

Step 8: Open the Water Supply

Opening the water supply is the last step in this process. You probably know how to do it already — just turn the shutoff valve counterclockwise until it goes a full circle.

You sprayed it with WD-40 earlier, so the knob should twist effortlessly. We recommend you to turn the shutoff valve off and on once a year — it will make the knob flexible in the long run, so you can close the water easily.

The open valve will immediately allow water to the supply hose to refill the toilet tank in a minute. Now you can test the toilet by flushing it — press the flush handle and see if it works as usual. 

The new toilet flange should do its job and help your toilet flush without leaks.

How Do You Know the Toilet Flange Is Broken?

Most people are not professional plumbers, so they have a hard time determining the condition of a toilet flange. Our advice is to look for two obvious signs of a malfunctioning flange.

The first sign is a leaky toilet. If your toilet base is leaking, a broken flange is the most probable cause. The only alternative is a cracked bowl, but you would probably notice leaky cracks instantly.

The second sign of a broken toilet flange is a wobbly toilet. The toilet flange and the wax ring keep the bowl in its position, not allowing it to wobble and move around the floor.

Sometimes the bathroom floor is not even, so you can shim the toilet to prevent wobbling. But if your floor is perfectly even, then it’s fair to assume that the flange is damaged. In this case, your only option is to replace the flange and the ring. 

It’s important to do it as soon as possible because damaged flanges can cause bigger damage long-term.

Thirdly, your toilet bowl is losing water. In this case, the flange lets the water flow directly into the outflow pipe.  

The Bottom Line

A damaged flange can cause all sorts of toilet issues like awful urine smell, wobbling, and constant leakages. If you notice any of these signs, you should do something about it quickly.

So how to replace a toilet flange? We showed you eight simple steps to do it alone. There’s no need to call a professional plumber — you’ll only need a new toilet flange and a few common DIY tools to complete the whole project. 

FAQ

Are toilet flanges removable?

Yes, toilet flanges are removable. It requires uninstalling the entire toilet because the flange hides under the bowl. When you reach it, you must unscrew four bolts that keep the flange to the ground.

When you remove the bolts, you can pull out the flange with your hands. In case it’s stuck, use a flathead screwdriver to detach it. After that, the flange will jump out quickly.

What are the different types of toilet flanges?

Toilet flanges have different shapes, dimensions, and types. When it comes to size, we recognize standard 4×3 flanges, three-inch models, push-tite, and odd-sized flanges. Regular, offset, and deep-seal flanges are the most common shapes.

As for types, there are six versions. PVC flanges are the most popular, along with brass and stainless steel flanges. Besides that, there is a copper, aluminum, and cast iron flange.

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