How to Replace a Toilet Flange with DIY Hand Tools?

Replacing a toilet flange is not as daunting as it may seem.

In fact, with the right tools and some basic know-how, it can be a relatively easy process.

replacing toilet flange

The following article will walk you through the steps necessary to replace your toilet flange in a safe and effective manner.

When To Replace a Toilet Flange?

There are a few signs that indicate it may be time to replace your toilet flange.

If you notice any of the following, it is likely time for a replacement:

Water is seeping around the base of your toilet

If you notice any water seeping around the base of your toilet, it is likely time to replace your toilet flange.

This is because the flange is not properly sealing the connection between your toilet and the sewer line.

Over time, this can lead to serious leaks and water damage.

The floor around your toilet feels soft or spongy

If the floor around your toilet feels soft or spongy, it is likely due to water damage from a leaky flange.

This can cause serious structural damage to your home if left unchecked.

This is especially true for the flooring in your bathroom, as it is often made of soft materials like wood or vinyl.

Your toilet is rocking or wobbling

If your toilet is rocking or wobbling, it is likely due to a loose or damaged flange.

This can cause your toilet to become unstable and potentially tip over.

In addition, a loose flange can also lead to leaks.

Sewer Odor Coming from the Base of the Toilet

If you notice a sewer odor coming from the base of your toilet, it is likely due to a leak in the flange.

This can allow sewage gas to seep into your home, which can cause serious issues.

It is important to fix this problem as soon as possible.

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to check the flange whether it’s properly in place or not.

A professional plumber can help you with this task, and it is important to choose a high-quality flange to avoid any future problems.

However, with an hour and the right tools and supplies, you can do that task yourself as well.

How to Replace Toilet Flange?

A loose, damaged, or deteriorating toilet flange can lead to a toilet leak or significant subfloor damage. It’s therefore very important to carry out a prompt toilet flange repair.

Luckily, replacing a toilet flange is an easy and manageable DIY project once you’ve got the right tools.

Carefully follow this step-by-step guide on how to replace a toilet flange.

Here are the tools and materials you’ll need:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Toilet plunger
  • Screwdriver (multi-head)
  • Hacksaw blade (optional)
  • Adjustable scraper (or putty knife)
  • Replacement flange
  • Replacement toilet T bolt kit
  • Wax ring (rubber gasket seal)
  • Disposable latex glove
  • Towels
  • Bucket

Shut the water supply to the toilet tank.

Except if you have a single-unit toilet, you must disconnect the toilet tank from the bowl before removing the toilet.

turn off water supply to the tank

Before disconnecting the toilet tank, make sure that you shut the water supply valve.

Shut-off valves require turning them clockwise completely or you need to pull a push/pull valve to shut off the water.

Empty the toilet tank

To avoid spilling water on your toilet floor, you need to empty the toilet tank. Press and hold down the flush lever/button for several seconds to flush and empty the toilet tank. Flushing will also clean the toilet bowl.

flush the toilet

Carefully take off the tank lid and place it safely on a towel. Some tank lid requires loosening off the flush buttons before removing the tank lid. Look into the tank, if you still find some water, take it out using a sponge.

Disconnect the toilet tank

Look under the toilet tank, you should see a rubber hose connecting the tank to the water supply valve.

Disconnect the rubber hose by unscrewing (turning anticlockwise) the plastic lock nut under the toilet tank with your hand.

disconnect the water supply

If loosening the plastic screw with your hand seems difficult, turn it gently with a wrench. Place a bucket under the tank while loosening the hose to catch any water remaining in the hose.

Look inside the tank around the flush valve, you should see two (or three) bolts. These are the tank bolts that secure the tank tightly on the toilet bowl to prevent falling or shifting.

Using a flathead screwdriver, unscrew these bolts. If turning them seems difficult, loosen the nuts under the toilet bowl using a wrench instead.

how to remove toilet tank

Sometimes, you may need to apply penetrating oil or cut off the nuts using a hacksaw blade.

Once you’ve removed all the tank bolts, the toilet tank is free. Lift the tank off the bowl gently with both hands and place it in a safe place.

Disconnect the toilet bowl

To access the toilet flange, you need to disconnect and remove the toilet bowl from its position.

Before doing that, plunge the bowl a few times to force any remaining water in it out of the toilet base.

Better still, you can use a sponge to take out the remaining water. This will prevent water from the toilet trap from spilling on your toilet floor when you lift the bowl.

Look at the base of the toilet bowl – on both sides, you should see the toilet T bolts.

toilet anchor bolts removal with pliers

The toilet T bolts secure the bowl tightly to the ground. Most times, these bolts have plastic bolt caps for aesthetic reasons.

Pry off these bolt caps to access the bolts. Since the bolts are inverted, you can only loosen the nuts on the bolts to disconnect the toilet bowl.

Loosen these nuts gently by turning them anticlockwise using an adjustable wrench. If loosening the bolts seems difficult, apply penetrating oil or cut off the nuts with a hacksaw blade.

Once the nuts are out, slightly rock the toilet bowl to break off the wax ring seal. If there is any caulk around the base of the toilet, cut it off with a sharp blade.

removing a toilet

When the bowl feels free, grab it with both hands and lift it off the bolts. Lay the bowl on its side on a towel to be able to access the bottom.

Right where you removed the bowl, you’ll see the toilet flange around the sewer drain.

Replace the toilet flange

Put on a pair of gloves and remove the old wax from under the bowl using a scraper/putty knife.

Also, completely remove the remains of old wax from around the surface of the toilet flange.

Pull out the rubber lip that was part of the old wax ring. Slide-out the two toilet T bolts from their grooves on both sides of the toilet flange.

You should see about three bolts holding down the toilet flange, unscrew them using a screwdriver.

If these bolts are rusted and won’t loosen, you would need to file them off. Watch this video to remove a corroded toilet flange.

Once the bolts are out, carefully pull off the old toilet flange. Plug the drain pipe with a rag to prevent unpleasant sewer gases.

Also, use a towel to clean the area around the sewer drain.

Make sure that the new toilet flange is of the same size and model as the old one. Remove the rag from the drain pipe and install the new toilet flange.

If the new flange doesn’t come with new bolts/screws, use the old ones. Secure the new flange tightly to the floor using the bolts/screws.

Once the new toilet flange is installed firmly, slide the toilet T bolts through the grooves until they lock into position.

If the old toilet T bolts are rusted or damaged, use the replacement toilet T bolt kit.

Some replacement toilet bolts come with additional nuts to hold them tightly on the toilet flange.

Now that you’ve successfully replaced the toilet flange, it’s time to replace the toilet bowl.

Fix the wax ring/gasket seal

Before replacing the toilet bowl, you need to fix the new wax ring as the old wax ring isn’t reusable.

The wax ring creates an airtight seal that blocks off odors. Center the wax ring gently on the new flange with the tapered rubber lip going inside the sewer drain.

If your toilet uses a gasket seal, place it on the flange so that it aligns with the toilet bolts.  

Reconnect the toilet bowl

Gently place the toilet bowl on the toilet flange. Make sure that the toilet bolts go perfectly into the holes at the base of the bowl.

Apply some pressure on the toilet bowl to set the wax seal. Don’t move or rock the toilet bowl after setting the wax seal to prevent odor or future leaks.

Place a washer over each bolt and tighten the nuts hard with your hand. Tighten the bolts further in an alternate way with a wrench.

However, be careful not to overtighten as this would crack the porcelain. Once the toilet bowl is firm in place, cover the bolt ends with the bolt caps.

Test the toilet bowl

It’s time to test the new toilet flange. Pour some water into the toilet bowl and check for leaks at the toilet base.

If there are no leaks, then the connection is good. Reconnect the toilet tank to the toilet bowl, reconnect the rubber hose, and turn on the water supply valve.

Flush several times and reconfirm that all the connections are good and leak-free.

This instructional video can assist you in the process in case you’ve any confusion –

What to Do if Toilet Flange is Glued?

If your old toilet flange is glued to the drain pipe, don’t try to remove it forcefully as you might damage the sewer pipe.

In such a case, you’ll have to call a professional plumber to do the task for you.

They’ll use their expertise to not damage the sewer pipe and still get rid of the damaged flange.

To Conclude

A toilet flange is a very important component of a toilet. It keeps the toilet securely attached to the floor and also creates an airtight seal.

However, over time it might get damaged due to which it needs to be replaced. By following the above steps, you can replace a toilet flange quite easily.

Just make sure to take all the necessary precautions and wear gloves and safety glasses while working. Also, don’t forget to turn off the water supply before starting the work.

We hope this guide was helpful and you were able to replace the toilet flange without any issue. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

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