If your house is older, there’s a good chance your toilets sit on a cast iron flange. In the past, cast iron was commonly used for toilet flanges and waste piping, and a hemp type rope called oakum was leaded in by plumbers to seal joints and connect the flange and pipe. This was quite a job and, needless to say, it’s not practiced in modern times.
Over time, cast iron flanges tend to corrode, often to the point where entire sections have crumbled apart and are missing. This, of course, greatly diminishes the integrity of the flange, which is a crucial component since it connects the base of the toilet to the waste pipe.
Fortunately, the company Danco came out with a repair flange a while back that makes solving the problem of a deteriorated cast iron flange much easier to deal with. Now, instead of having to remove the old flange (which is quite a laborious task), the Danco repair flange is designed to simply be placed over the old flange and screwed directly to the subfloor. This raises the height of the flange, which requires that the wax ring placed on top of the flange be cut in half to create a proper watertight seal.
From my experience, this is the easiest route to go if you have an old, rotted out cast iron flange. I had to repair one of my own toilets this way a while back, and the job was easy and produced good, long lasting results. If your flange is in good condition, though, and you simply need a new wax ring, another fairly new product is a great option – a flexible waxless seal. These are gasket type seals that are typically green and offer a major advantage over traditional wax rings.
When it comes to wax rings, you generally get one shot at setting the toilet directly over the ring to create a sufficient seal. If you miss the mark, the wax ring can be ruined and unusable. Since the gasket is flexible and doesn’t have wax, it can be used repeatedly with no worries of setting the toilet perfectly the first time. In addition, the foul mess that’s always present when a wax ring needs replaced isn’t an issue with waxless seals. Wax rings are cheaper, but the minor cost difference for the waxless seals are well worth it in my opinion.
If you do have an older home, one or more of your toilets may be 10 inch instead of the now standard 12 inch size; and if you don’t want to bother having your drain piping relocated, you’ll need to purchase the correct size. To determine whether you have a 10 or 12 inch toilet, simply measure from the wall to one of the closet bolts, which are the bolts that are set in the flange on the floor and stick upright through either side of the toilet base to secure the toilet to the floor. The distance measured from the wall to the bolts is your toilet size.
It can be somewhat difficult to find 10 inch toilets now, but most stores stock at least one model and they can otherwise be special ordered. In any case, there have been some innovative products that have come out in recent years to make toilet repairs much easier, and it’s wise to take full advantage of them whenever that next toilet repair becomes necessary.
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