Toilet flanges connect the toilet to the floor and the drainpipes that lead to the sewer. There are a few different types of flanges, made of different materials (brass, copper, cast iron) depending on the intended use. Toilet flanges are also called “closet” flanges. This term came from the days when we called the bathroom a “Water Closet“. It still is often called this in the UK and other parts of the world.
A loose flange is a relatively common problem, the most obvious symptom of which is a loose toilet that rocks back and forth. Many consumers rely on a plumber to fix or replace a toilet flange — but for anyone into DIY, it’s not that difficult. If you’re replacing a toilet, you’ll want to know the different kinds of flanges you can use and which would be best for your specific needs.
Types of Toilet Flanges and Their Functions
Stainless Steel Toilet Flanges
Stainless steel flanges are sturdy and they are rust and corrosion-proof
Aluminum Toilet Flanges
These are characterized by their lightweight. The material offers protection from erosion. Unadulterated aluminum flanges are more erosion safe than those made of composites of aluminum and different metals (manganese, zinc, and copper). Still, these combinations are considered solid and strong.
Copper Toilet Flanges
Copper flanges have high protection from erosion. Soft copper flanges twist effectively to fit into pipes. Copper flanges are rigid and must be utilized with elbow joints to fit into drainpipes.
Brass Toilet Flanges
Brass flanges are a durable toilet plumbing alternative. They are available in three styles: deep seal flanges, offset flanges, and regular flanges. These are often a round piece, while others accompany an elbow joint that connects with the drainpipes. During installation, an additional wax ring is set between the flange and the toilet to guarantee that the connection is firmly fixed. (There are newer wax-free options, see more details below).
Cast Iron Toilet Flanges
These toilet flanges usually cost more. They are used for cast iron pipes and are truly sturdy. Cast iron flanges come in an assortment of sizes. They are counterbalanced by 1-inch with 4-inch pressure and 2-inch storage room flanges, intended to fit 3-inch and 4-inch drainpipes. Cast iron flanges are intended for drainpipes that are introduced lower than the toilet sub-floor since they stretch down to the funnels.
Plastic Toilet Flanges
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the most common type of plastic, designed for use with pipes. PVC toilet flanges are also common. There are varieties to these flanges. Some of them are 100% made of PVC, while others have a PVC base and a metal top. The flanges are intended to be fitted on 4-inch or 3-inch drainpipes.
Regular Problems of Toilet Flanges
Repairing toilet flanges is important, and often required, to keep the entire toilet system intact. The flange connects your toilet to the waste pipe. A damaged flange can cause a leaking toilet, which isn’t just unsightly, but can also cause quite a mess.
If your toilet flange or waste pipe is clogged, it can obstruct the toilet, too. You may need to remove the toilet first before you can get to the flange and get rid of the blockage. Fixing an obstructed flange can be extremely troublesome, especially if it hasn’t been regularly maintained in the past.
The toilet flange is connected to the toilet by a wax ring. The wax ring seals the waste pipe so that water can be flushed down the toilet. On the off chance that the wax ring is broken, cracked or deteriorated, water will leak. A replacement wax bowl might be required to reseal the toilet and keep it from spilling.
While wax rings have been the standard for years and come included with most new toilets, there are newer wax-free options the most popular being a Wax-Free Toilet Bowl Gasket like this one by Fluidmaster. I recently used this to install two new American Standard Cadet 3 toilets in my sister house rather than using the wax ring that came with them, for around $10 I think it’s a worthwhile upgrade.
The problem with the wax ring si that you pretty much get one shot at getting it right to place the toilet and press it down in place to create a seal. With the wax-free version, the main benefit is that you can lift and adjust the toilet as many times as needed before screwing it down into the flange.
If the flange breaks, water will flow out of the toilet. Broken flanges are more common with cast-iron types since they are weaker than other types. A cracked flange can be solved by evacuating the toilet and placing a new flange. Some would try to reinforce the current flange, although this isn’t a totally permanent solution. The crack may become even bigger in the long run.
Find out how you can repair a broken or cracked PVC flange by watching this video:
A rocking toilet can damage the flange. Be sure that you reinforce or repair the toilet to keep it from moving around. This can save the flange from incurring any damages. Make sure that all bolts and connections are steady and secured to prevent loosening of parts.
Length of Toilet Flange
The toilet flange should be the right length. Not all toilet models use the same flange length. An excessively long or short flange can lead to a leaking toilet or other problems. You can use extenders to raise the height of the flange. You can reduce the length of a flange, or use a toilet base plate to raise the toilet up as necessary.
Height of Toilet Flange
The ideal height of the toilet flange should be proportional to the toilet floor. Make sure to put all of these into consideration, especially if you’re still in the process of constructing your bathroom floor. A flange that’s too low or tall may be an issue in the future. Ensuring it’s just the right height will prevent any possible future problems.
If you’re experiencing difficulty locating the actual source of the damage and fixing the toilet flange, don’t hesitate to get expert help. Still, there are endless resources online, such as guides on the right toilet parts and accessories, and tutorials (like the ones we posted above) that can get you right on track without spending too much money.
What sort of flange do you use at home? Hope you learned a lot about toilet flange types and possible repairs from this article. Please share your thoughts and comments below!