Are you remodeling your bathroom, and you discovered that the toilet flange is sticking out a bit too much? So, what can you do when the toilet flange is too high?
A toilet flange that is even just a bit too high than the subflooring can cause problems. It can cause the whole toilet to rock when you are using it. More importantly, a toilet flange that is too high can warp the bathroom floor and cause your toilet to leak.
If the toilet flange leaks, the subfloor may also rot. It can trigger the growth of mold and mildew that are serious health risks. That said, you have to know how to fix a high toilet flange.
Read on to learn more about what you can do when the toilet flange is too high. You will also get to know how you can prevent it from happening.
Toilet Flange and Its Importance
What Is a Toilet Flange?
Before learning about ways to repair a high toilet flange, you should know what it is and its uses first.
The toilet flange also called the closet flange (from the water closet), connects the toilet bowl and sewer pipe. Toilet flanges can be made from different kinds of materials. The most common is PVC. You can also find those made of iron and brass.
Keeps the Toilet from Leaking
You attach the flange to the floor in your bathroom to keep the toilet from leaking during use. Essentially, the flange works like a funnel, directing the wastewater from the toilet directly to the sewer pipe.
Helps Elevate the Toilet
In addition, the flange also helps elevate the toilet so that its weight will not damage the bathroom flooring. However, if the toilet flange is a bit too high, it will also cause a host of other problems.
What Happens If the Toilet Flange Is Broken?
Causes the Toilet to Wobble and Leak Water
An overly high toilet flange can do the opposite of its intended purpose. This means it can cause the toilet to wobble when used and leak water.
Mold and Mildew Will Grow
If the toilet rocks back and forth too much, it will eventually cause the bathroom floor to warp. In worse cases, it may even get destroyed. It can also result in the leaking of the flange. This can further lead to mold and mildew growing in your basement. It is the reason why it is important to fix the problem immediately.
Not That Expensive to Fix a Broken Toilet Flange
Having a professional plumber fix the problem for you is not that expensive at all. However, if you like doing DIY home repairs, this task is not that complicated. It typically only takes an afternoon to finish.
Whichever route you take to repair this problem, the important thing is to address it as soon as possible. The sooner you fix this problem, the fewer repairs you will need to make in the future. This means you will be saving yourself from a lot of hassle and unwanted expenses.
How Can You Fix a Broken Toilet Flange?
Raise the Bathroom Floor
Takes a Lot of Time
This is an effective method in fixing a toilet flange that is too high. Note, though, that this method takes up a lot of your time. Unless you are planning to remodel your bathroom anyway, you might want to consider other methods first.
Invest in Thicker Tiles
If you decide to raise the bathroom floor to level it with the toilet flange, investing in thicker flooring tiles is necessary. These tiles are typically a lot more expensive than regular bathroom tiles.
Measure the Difference Between the Flange and the Floor
Raising your bathroom floor means you will add a bit more thickness until it reaches the flange. This means you will need to measure the height difference between the flange and the floor.
You should then go to your local hardware/home improvement store and purchase floor tiles roughly the same thickness. Once you lay down the flooring, the toilet should not wobble anymore.
Avoid Getting Tiles with the Exact Height Difference Between the Flange and Floor
However, avoid getting tiles with the same thickness as the height difference between the toilet flange and the floor. Allow a bit of space for the cement.
Use Grout to Fill the Gap
If you can’t afford a total renovation of your bathroom, you can fix the problem using a bit of grout. Tile grout is an excellent and cost-effective solution to fix a toilet flange that is too high. It also does not take that long to do.
Here’s how you can use simple tile grout to solve your toilet flange problem:
1. Mix the Grout
You don’t need to stick to the instructions in the grout packaging, mainly because you will be making too much. You have to mix just enough to fill in the gap between the floor and the toilet for this task.
Grab a small plastic container. A yogurt container will do. You should then proceed to combine one part grout with six parts water. Start small as it is easy to mix more grout later.
2. Put Rubber Shims Under the Toilet
Get four thin rubber shims. Place them equidistant to each other under the toilet. Make sure that the shims fit snug in the gap. These will keep the toilet from moving as you put on the grout and wait for it to cure.
3. Pack the Grout into the Gap
Using a small applicator, proceed to pack the mixed tile grout into the gap underneath the toilet. Make sure to fill the gap all around the base of the toilet completely.
4. Wait for the Grout to Dry
Wait at least 24 hours for the grout to cure completely. However, you should check the label of the grout as some brands require less curing time.
While waiting for the grout to cure, spray a bit of water on it every couple of hours or so. This might seem counterproductive, but it will help the grout cure faster and stronger.
5. Remove or Trim the Shims
Once you cure the grout completely, grab a pair of pliers, then pull out the rubber shims. Some might pull out easily. However, there’s also a chance that some would get stuck as well. Don’t force the stuck shims, as you might damage the grout you laid down earlier.
If you cannot pull out a shim or two, use a sharp utility knife and trim the shims. Get the shims as close to the edge of the toilet bowl base as you can.
6. Fill in the Gaps Left by the Shims
Mix a small amount of tile grout. Pack it in the small gaps left behind by the rubber shims. Don’t worry if any of the shims got stuck. They will not be bearing any weight, and they made a watertight seal anyway.
7. Tighten the Nuts That Hold the Toilet Down
To get a good seal, tighten the nuts along the base of the toilet. However, avoid tightening them too much as you may end up cracking the grout. Gradually tighten each nut a quarter-turn until you feel that you have secured them. The toilet should not also be wobbling.
Again, how do you fix a toilet flange that is too high? A toilet flange that is too high can cause more serious problems, including a wobbling or leaking toilet. Eventually, this could cause molds and mildew to grow. You can raise the bathroom flour, use grout to fill the gaps, or replace the toilet flange to fix this issue.
Replace the Toilet Flange
What should you do if the flange is too high that filling the gap with grout is not feasible? The only option left at this point is to remove the old flange. Replace it with a new one that sits flush on the bathroom floor; no pun intended:
1. Remove the Old Flange
Carefully remove your toilet and set it aside. Without damaging the sewer line, there is no chance of pulling out the old toilet flange in one piece.
You can use a hammer and chisel to chip away at the flange gradually. Be careful that you don’t hit the sewer line. You can also use a variable-speed drill with a 4-inch hole saw to cut off the flange at once.
2. Remove the Fitting Inside the Sewer Pipe
Use a sharp utility knife to score inside the fitting. Make two deep cuts that are no more than an inch apart. Avoid cutting too deep that you already reach the sewer pipe.
After scoring the fitting, you can pop it off using a flathead screwdriver or any similar tool. Don’t worry if it breaks into pieces and falls into the sewer pipe.
3. Cut the Sewer Pipe If Necessary
The usual reason why the toilet flange is high is that the sewer pipe extends too far from the floor. The sewer pipe needs to be flush with the flooring. To remedy this, grab a hacksaw and cut the pipe as close to the floor as you can. You can file it down even further if you think that it still sticks out too much.
4. Install the New Toilet Flange
Once the sewer pipe is ready, insert the new toilet flange into it. Make sure the holes on the flange do not line up with the old bolt holes of the replaced one—drill holes in the flooring. Use the provided screws as a means of securing the flange.
5. Set the Toilet on the New Flange
Place the toilet carefully on the new flange, carefully line up the bolts with the holes in the toilet base. Tighten the toilet down using the bolts provided:
- Essential Tip #1 – Place a wax ring, or a silicone one, over the flange before setting the toilet on it. The wax ring will serve as a gasket that will prevent leaks from happening.
- Essential Tip #2 – Consider using brass nuts to secure the toilet onto the flange. Unlike steel bolts, brass nuts are highly resistant to corrosion. This simple and affordable replacement will add years to the longevity of your toilet.
Now that the new toilet flange sits lower than the old one, your toilet should sit level on the floor. It should not also rock nor wobble anymore.
Lifespan of Toilet Flanges
Manufacturers rarely specify the service lifespan of toilet flanges because there are varying factors involved. However, if the toilet flange were correctly installed, it would typically last for many years. You will only have to replace it if the toilet itself is replaced as well.
If water leaks from the toilet’s base, it is usually not the flange’s fault. With most incidences of toilet leaks, the culprit is the wax ring. It is kind of like the gasket that seals the toilet and the toilet flange together. These kinds of leaks usually happen when the wax ring gets too old and dries up. This generally takes around thirty years.
Conclusion – Toilet Flange Too High? How to Fix
Even if the toilet flange sticks out a tiny bit off the bathroom floor, it causes the toilet to wobble. This could also warp the bathroom floor and cause the toilet to leak, leading to even more problems.
Fortunately, fixing the problem is not that expensive, and any professional plumber can do it quickly. On the other hand, it is also easy to learn ways to repair a high toilet flange. This can save you even more money, and you get to learn a new skill.