To remove a toilet flange that is glued in place, first, remove your toilet. Then, remove the screws that attach the toilet flange to the floor. Once this is complete, use a hacksaw or reciprocating saw to cut off the top of the flange flush with the floor. From there, you will have a cylinder of pipe with the flange sleeve glued inside. Use your saw to cut vertical notches in the flange sleeve without cutting into the pipe it is glued to. Finally, use a hammer and chisel to remove the vertically notched flange sleeve in sections.
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When Do You Need to Replace a Toilet Flange?
If your toilet flange is cracked or broken, it may leak. In this case, it will have to be replaced in order to stop the leak and prevent damage to your home. Additionally, a flange that was glued into place at an angle will cause your toilet to sit improperly and may leak. A tilted flange should be removed and replaced.
- Flange is cracked or broken.
- The flange is not level.
- The flange is seated below the level of the flooring.
It is imperative that your toilet flange is level with or slightly higher than the surrounding flooring. A toilet flange that is below floor level is likely to leak. Water can seep in between your tile floor and the subfloor, causing an invisible leak that can slowly destroy your floors. If your flange is lower than the floor around it, it should be replaced, or this toilet flange spacer should be installed to raise the height of the flange.
Can You Put a New Toilet Flange Over an Old One?
Do not attempt to install a new toilet flange where an existing flange is already present. A toilet flange, commonly referred to as “closet flange,” is designed to fit either inside or outside your drain pipe. If a flange is already glued in place, you cannot install a new flange without removing the existing one.
- You cannot install a new flange before removing the old toilet flange.
- If you need to increase the height of your flange, you can install a toilet flange spacer on top of your old flange.
Instead of installing a completely new flange, you can add a toilet flange spacer to increase the height of your existing flange. This is great if the flange is lower than the floor level. However, it is not a good idea to install a flange spacer on top of a broken or tilted flange, as this will not solve the problem.
9 Steps to Remove a Glued-In Toilet Flange
Getting rid of a toilet flange that has been glued in place with a plumber’s epoxy is a tough task. Since the flange doesn’t screw in place, it can’t be unscrewed. This means you’ll have to follow a careful set of steps to get rid of the old flange without damaging your toilet drain pipe. Here’s how to get the job done right.
Remove the Toilet
Before you can remove the flange, first you have to remove the toilet that is attached to the flange. To do this:
- Turn off the water supply to the toilet.
- Flush the toilet until the tank is empty.
- Unhook the water supply line from the toilet tank.
- Uncap the bolts that connect the toilet to the closet flange.
- Remove the nuts from the flange bolts.
- Lift the toilet off the flange and set it aside.
Some water will remain in the toilet bowl and P-trap even after flushing. To prevent this from spilling when removing the toilet, use rags to soak up the water in the P-trap, or vacuum it out using a wet-dry vacuum.
Stuff a Rag into the Drain Pipe
Before proceeding, it’s essential to stuff a rag 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) into your drain pipe. This is important because an open waste pipe without a toilet on top will release foul-smelling sewer gas into your home. The rag will keep the smell down while you work.
- Stuff a rag into the open drain pipe.
- Make sure the rag is firmly stuffed down to a depth of 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) so that it is below the level of the flange sleeve.
- The rag will prevent sewer gas from coming up into your home.
- Keep the pipe plugged with the rag while you work to prevent debris from falling down the drain and causing a future clog.
In addition to reducing sewer gas infiltration, the rag in the pipe also protects the drain pipe from any wax residue, pieces of flange, or screws that may fall into the pipe. If allowed to fall down your waste pipe, these materials can cause a clog. Keeping a rag stuffed in the drain pipe while you work prevents tools and materials from being lost down your drain pipe.
Scrape the Wax Off the Flange
If your toilet was installed using a wax ring, it is likely that some sticky wax residue will be left clinging to the flange after the toilet’s removal. This residue should be removed in order to find the flange screws and complete flange removal. Use a scraper to remove the wax.
- Use a scraper to remove any wax ring residue from the flange.
- If your toilet is equipped with a rubber flange seal instead of a wax ring, remove the rubber seal and save it for reuse.
Wax residue can be stubborn. If you are having a difficult time removing wax from the toilet flange, try these tips for tackling toilet wax ring removal. With the right tactics, the job will be simple and fast.
Remove Flange Screws and Bolts
In addition to being glued to the waste pipe, toilet flanges are typically attached to the bathroom subfloor with screws. Often, there are four screws that attach the flange to the subfloor. All of these must be removed with an electric drill or screwdriver to allow for removal.
- Locate all the screws that attach the flange to the floor. Often, there are four.
- Use a drill or screwdriver to remove all of the flange screws.
- If the toilet bolts are still in place, remove these as well.
In addition to the flange screws, there will be bolts sticking upwards from the flange. These are the bolts that secure the toilet to the flange. Remove these as well. Unless rusted, they should be easy to remove by hand once the wax residue is cleaned away.
Cut the Flange Off at Floor Level
If the flange is seated high enough that you can get a saw blade between the flange and the floor, use a reciprocating saw or hacksaw to cut the flange off at floor level. This will remove the upper part of the flange, leaving only the flange sleeve glued inside your pipe. After this step, you will see what looks like a slightly smaller pipe glued inside a larger pipe.
- If space allows, use a reciprocating saw or this hacksaw to cut the flange off flush with the floor.
- In the event that you cannot cut the flange off flush with the floor, skip this step.
- Skipping this step will make future steps more challenging, but flange removal can still be accomplished safely.
If the flooring around the flange prevents you from getting a saw blade beneath the flange, you can skip this step. However, you will have to work more carefully in future steps as you cut out sections of the flange.
Cut The Flange Sleeve Vertically
Using the same saw from the previous step, make vertical cuts in the flange sleeve every 2 inches (5 cm) around the circumference of the flange. Make these cuts by putting the blade straight down into the pipe and cutting through the sleeve to the point where it is glued to the drain pipe.
- Insert your reciprocating saw or hacksaw vertically into the pipe.
- Make several vertical cuts in the flange sleeve, sawing all the way through the sleeve without damaging the drain pipe.
- For more precise cuts and less chance of damaging your drain pipe, use a hand hacksaw instead of a reciprocating saw.
Work slowly and carefully, making sure to keep the saw blade vertical inside the pipe. The goal is to cut through the flange sleeve without cutting into the drain pipe it is glued to. If you cause minor damage to the drain pipe, this is okay. Just make certain you do not cut all the way through your drain pipe.
Remove the Flange Sleeve Sections
Use a hammer and wood chisel to remove the cut flange sections. To do so:
- Place the tip of this wood chisel at the point where the flange sleeve is glued to the drain pipe.
- Hammer the end of the chisel to pry the glued section of flange sleeve away from the drain pipe.
- Repeat for all sections of flange sleeve until it is completely removed.
If you were not able to cut the flange sleeve off flush with the floor in step 5, then work the tip of the wood chisel under the flange to pry the section of the flange sleeve off the drain pipe.
Now that the flange sleeve is totally removed, there may be some slight damage to the drain pipe where the saw blade or wood chisel chipped the drain pipe. As long as the damage does not cut all the way through the pipe, lightly sand it to smooth the imperfections.
- Sand slight damage to the drain pipe using 100 or 120 grit sandpaper.
- Smoothed imperfections are less likely to cause a future clog.
- If there is severe damage to the drain pipe caused during flange removal, contact a professional to repair your drain pipe.
If you cut or broke all the way through the drain pipe during flange removal, the drain pipe will have to be repaired. To replace a damaged section of drain pipe, it is best to call a professional plumber.
Remove the Rag
Before you can install a new flange and put your toilet back in place, it’s essential to remove the rag that was stuffed into the drain pipe earlier. Remove the rag, along with any debris that fell down the pipe. You will be left with a clean drain pipe that is ready for a new flange.
- Remove the rag from the drain pipe, as well as any debris that fell down onto the rag.
- Make sure the rag is cleared from the pipe before installing your new flange and toilet.
- Rags left in the pipe during toilet installation can become lodged deep in your pipes and cause serious clogs.
Do not skip this step. A drain pipe that is left plugged with a rag will overflow once the toilet is installed and used for the first time. It is common for rags to be accidentally left in drain pipes after repairs, causing horrible clogs once the toilet is re-installed.
How Do You Remove a Glued Toilet Flange?
If your toilet flange is cracked, leaking, or installed poorly, you can remove it yourself. A flange that is glued to your drain pipe may seem tough to remove, but you can get rid of it by following these steps:
- Remove the toilet from the floor.
- Stuff a rag into the drain pipe.
- Clean wax ring residue off the flange.
- Remove the screws that connect the flange to the floor.
- Cut the flange off flush with the floor.
- Make several vertical cuts in the flange without damaging the drain pipe it is glued to.
- Use a hammer and chisel to pry the vertically cut sections of flange from the drain pipe.
- Sand any damaged portions of the drain pipe to smooth imperfections caused during flange removal.
- Pull the rag and any debris from the pipe before installing a new flange.
This process works perfectly for removing a glued flange from a drain pipe. With just a few hand tools you can flawlessly remove a flange and set the stage for easy installation of a replacement.