Toilet Issue: Shims, Wax, General Disarray. - Plumbing - DIY Home Improvement | DIYChatroom

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Old 08-31-2009, 02:36 PM   #1
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Toilet issue: Shims, wax, general disarray.

Hi all. First off, appreciate any help anyone can give me.

So, the deal is:

I've had a toilet in my downstairs bathroom that has not appeared to leak, but a few times a day, the water can be heard running (refilling the tank) for a few seconds...maybe 5-10 each time it happens. There appeared to be no leakage, so I figured maybe I had a leaky flapper (or whatever the actual term is) in the tank. I replaced that once, but it didn't seem to help anything. In the last few days, I've noticed some water at the front base of the toilet, so I turned off the water to the toilet until I could take a look.

1) I've never dealt with a toilet before; I barely know what I'm looking at.
2) I just took the tank off the base, and the base off the floor, everything is preexisting.

So, basically what I found was a bunch of waxy stuff (I assume either the remnants of a wax ring, or a sealant the previous owner applied, or both), and a bunch of shims that were effectively raising the base of the toilet from the floor. Should be noted that when I was removing the nuts from the bolts holding the base to the floor, there was a greasy, waxy feel to them, as if it were pushing up from the base and up the bolt hole. Pure conjecture, but worth noting.

Here are some pics. I intend to buy a new toilet, but my questions are:

1) Is the black ring that the bolts are in standard, or is it a device to "raise" the pipe going into the toilet?

2) In your estimation, is the problem that the plumbing run for the toilet projects too far out of the floor, necessitating shims to hold the toilet further off the floor? This seems like a poor solution, and yet very, very likely is what happened.

3) Should I be removing/looking at any other pieces here to get an idea of how to handle this?

And yes, the stuff left on the floor with the shims is about 3/4" of caulk/sealant in the front, vs. only about 3/16" in the back.

The floor is NOT perfectly level. I just ran a level from the back of the toilet floor to the front area, and it's about 1/8" lower in the front. How level does the floor have to be? Is there a bit of leeway allowed, or is it proper to be shimming up the toilet in the front and going crazy with caulk?

Thanks again, here are the pictures.
Attached Thumbnails
Toilet issue:  Shims, wax, general disarray.-dsc00527.jpg   Toilet issue:  Shims, wax, general disarray.-dsc00528.jpg   Toilet issue:  Shims, wax, general disarray.-dsc00529.jpg  
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Old 08-31-2009, 03:15 PM   #2
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If it's helpful, I've determined that the flange is about 1/4" off the floor. And lo and behold, when I reseat the toilet (sans wax ring) it's about 1/4" suspended in the air off the floor, ie, sitting on the flange. Should I be trying to tap the flange down, or just cut it off and get a new one to seat in the pipe?

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Old 09-01-2009, 05:55 AM   #3
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First of all, you're right, the flange is simply too high for the floor. To best resolve this very poor installation, I would lower the flange to the proper height.
Is that bathroom over a crawlspace or basement, or is it on a slab? Is the flange cast iron as it appears?
You need to get under the flange and cut the closet bend pipe and replumb it, so that the flange sits flush on top of the finished floor level with only the thickness of the flange above floor level. That's the way standard wax ring seals will seal properly. You can't "tap" the flange down without breaking something loose probably. You can cut the drain line, lower the flange, and re-connect it using either a no-hub connector or a Fernco coupling, depending on the situation.
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Old 09-01-2009, 07:04 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info. Based on some other info I've gotten, I can add the following:

1) The flange and the soil pipe (at least the first 12 vertical inches that I can examine) are black ABS. That is consistent with all of the other plumbing in my house, which surprised me, as it was built in '69.

2) The previous flange was a 4" inside flange. I say previous, because I chopped it off at floor level last night. The soil pipe looks like it extended about 1/4" out of the floor...mystery solved as far as I'm concerned.

So, my plan at this point is sort of in flux. The soil pipe is embedded in the slab, so my two options appear to be to either chisel out a bunch of cement from around the pipe and use an outside flange, or my preferred (read: easier) option, which would be to cut the soil pipe about an inch down into the slab (down to the point the previous flange reached), and then use a new inside flange which seems like it would work because the flange I have has easily a 2" depth on it, while if I cut the old one out, I'd only have about an inch to cover, so by my estimation I would have an extra inch or so of pip to work with.

One thing: If I'm going from ABS in the floor, should I use an ABS flange, or just use a PVC flange with some ABS to PVC cement?

Feel free to criticize any of my planned actions here if they're grossly incorrect!

Thanks for the response.
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:13 AM   #5
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Use ABS flange no such thing as ABS to PVC glue
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:28 AM   #6
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You know, I would go with shimming. Actually one big custom sawn (jigsawed?) shim shaped like the footprint of the toilet, and about 1/8" to 1/4" larger all around.

THe new wax ring would fill the gap between the toilet and the flange just as in a normal installation.

Test fit everything and verify that there is no rocking prior to installing the wax ring. Should the toilet rock after the wax ring is put in place, chances are the wax got deformed and will not seal again.
Stick to your lawn watering schedule until it really pours. Otherwise the storm might miss and the part that gets watered last (3 days away?) will dry up.
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:57 PM   #7
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I would go the chipping out the cement and using a 4" ABS hub flange (goes on the outside). Make sure before you glue it up that the flange sits flat on the floor even if it is not level. Screw it to the floor with tapcons. A regular tapcon will probable outlast you and me but if you can find stainless steel, use them. Don't bother looking at the big box store. Don't forget to shim up the new toilet to make up for the 1/8" slope. I like to sit the shims in place, lower the toilet on the the wax ring and back out the shims to level the toilet. Tighten the bolts and let it set for a few hours and check to tightness again. Do not over tighten. I make it as tight as I can just using only my thumb and index finger on the wrench and it seem about right every time.
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:40 PM   #8
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they make a tool for cutting the pipe from the inside. cut then fit new flange. if the tile floor is level in two directions and flat lose the shims
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:38 PM   #9
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im guessing your ground work is cast iron judging from the the pipe coming through floor flush with top of flange? go to your local ace hardware or other older ma and pa type store and buy a lead boot for using on a roof around plumbing stack.cut some strips about 1 1/2" wide and maybe 6" long with tin snips. set the toilet back on the flange with a #3 no seep wax ring and put a little weight on it till it sits fairly level.then fold the lead strips onto themselves till you get about the right thickness you need to shove under each corner,maybe one in center on each side too depending on how bad it is then snug up the closet bolts and try shaking toilet.if its solid caulk around base and move onto next project being happy to get off easy! sometimes if the pipe is below top of flange you can heat up the lead and flange then lay a 2x3 across it a couple times in differant directions smacking it with a hammer to gain a little,but you have to be really carefull!
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