How to Replace a Toilet Flange

Plumber at work, man installing new toilet

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A toilet flange is a circular pipe fitting that connects your toilet to the floor and to the pipe that runs into the sewer. It is also known as a closet flange, a term derived from the days when toilets were known as “water closets.”

Signs that it may be time to replace a toilet flange include water leaking at the base of the toilet or a toilet that starts to rock back and forth. Although not the easiest of home repairs, with the right tools and knowledge, it is a doable DIY.

Shopping for a Toilet Flange

The surest way to know you’ve obtained the right toilet flange is to remove your present one and bring it with you to your neighborhood hardware store. Though PVC is the most common type of material used to produce toilet flanges, they also come in copper, cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel, and brass. They also come in various shapes and sizes.

Required Tools

In order to remove your toilet flange and replace it with a new one, you will need the following tools:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Multi-head screwdriver
  • Measuring tape
  • Old rag and newspapers
  • The correct size bolts and screws for attaching flange
  • Nose and mouth mask (optional)

Replacing your Flange

Empty Water

  1. Locate the shut-off for the water supply to the toilet. This is the knob on the wall behind the toilet. Turn the knob clockwise to shut it off. Flush the toilet, allow it to refill, and then continue flushing until all the water has drained from the toilet bowl. Disconnect the water supply hose from the toilet.
  2. Spread enough newspaper on the bathroom floor so that you have a place to sit the toilet once removed.

Remove Toilet

  1. Use your adjustable wrench to remove the two bolts that are holding the toilet down. Keep these handy, because you will use them when reinstalling.
  2. Now comes the somewhat difficult part. A toilet can weigh upwards of 120 pounds. It’s always best if you can enlist the aid of a family member, friend or extremely nice neighbor. Before lifting, rock it back and forth a few times to break the wax seal. When lifting, be sure to use your legs, not your back. Lift straight up and carefully set it on the newspaper.

Remove Flange

  1. Use your putty knife to clean the wax from the flange.
  2. Remove the screws attaching it to the floor using your multi-head screwdriver. Keep the screws for later.
  3. Clean off the flange and tuck an old rag into the sewage outflow pipe to block any unwanted sewer smells or gasses.
  4. Measure the diameter of the sewer pipe to determine the correct size for the flange. Then, place your old one in a bag and head to the nearest hardware or home improvement store.

Make Your Purchases

Make sure the flange you purchase is the same size and shape. In addition to the flange, you will need a new wax ring. The correct nuts and bolts often come with the toilet flange. If for any reason these pieces are not included, you will have the ones you saved during removal. If they were in bad shape, you will need to purchase new nuts and bolts.

Replace Flange

  1. Once home, remove the rag from the outflow pipe.
  2. Fit your new flange over the pipe and make sure that there are no spaces between the flange and the floor before screwing it into place. Attach using your used or new screws and bolts. Once in place, you should have two bolts sticking up for the toilet.

Replace Toilet

  1. Lay the toilet on its side and put the new wax ring on the round mouth that sits on top of the flange.
  2. Replace the toilet by lining up the holes on the toilet base with the two bolts. Make sure to keep the toilet straight and as perpendicular as possible when lowering.
  3. Press down to seal the wax ring with the flange.
  4. Replace the nuts on the bolts.

Reconnect Water Supply

Reconnect your water supply hose and turn the water on.

Once the toilet bowl is full, flush it a few times to make sure it is working correctly without leaks. If the floor is dry and the toilet is not wobbling—you have succeeded and saved yourself quite a bit of money in the process!

If you run into problems with this DIY, check out an online guide on installing new toilets; there are tips and questions you can ask when hiring a plumber, in case you need one.