How to Remove a Toilet Flange

Flange parts on the floor in front of a toilet
The toilet is one of those household conveniences we take for granted…until it stops working. This is even more painfully true if you only have one bathroom in your house. One component of a toilet that can cause a few different kinds of problems is an old or broken toilet flange. You might also see it referred to as a “closet flange.” This term refers to the traditional name for a bathroom, which is “water closet.”

The toilet flange is a device that serves two important purposes: it attaches the toilet to the floor, and it connects the toilet bowl to the waste water line. Here’s everything you need to know about how to remove a toilet flange.

When to Replace a Toilet Flange

How can you tell that it’s time to replace your toilet flange? There are three primary signs:

  1. If there is a sewer smell in the bathroom, it can be an indication that the flange is broken or wax seal and allowing odours to waft up from the sewer line.
  2. If the toilet rocks back and forth when you sit on it, the flange is probably broken.
  3. If water is pooling around the base of the toilet, a cracked flange or wax seal is the likely culprit.

How to Remove a Toilet Flange

Many homeowners are capable of removing their own toilet flange, this is a very experienced DIY job. The most challenging part is moving the toilet; toilets can weigh over a hundred pounds, and they are awkwardly shaped. With that in mind, make sure you have an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, a shop vac, and a strong friend on hand before you begin this process. Here’s how to remove your toilet flange in seven easy steps:

  1. Turn off the water supply by rotating the water supply knob behind the toilet in a clockwise direction.
  2. Empty the toilet by flushing it repeatedly until both bowl and tank are empty. You’ll need to sponge out any water left in the bottom of the bowl and tank.
  3. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the nuts from either side of the toilet; this will disconnect the toilet from the floor.
  4. With the help of a friend, gently rock the toilet back and forth to break the wax seal; then, carefully lift the toilet straight up. Move it to an out-of-the-way location.
  5. Use a putty knife to remove the wax seal off the flange as well as the underside of the toilet. Plan on replacing this with a new seal; you can choose another wax seal, or a new waxless option.
  6. Remove the toilet flange by unscrewing it from the floor. If the screws are in good condition, save them. You may need to pry out pieces of the old flange with a chisel and hammer. If the flange is really stubborn, it can help to cut it into pieces with a Dremel tool. Once you have successfully removed the flange, use a shop vac and an old rag to clean debris from the area. Keep in mind there are various types of materials closet flanges are made of, various types of connections to the drainage system and floor as well.
  7. Put the old flange in a plastic bag and take it to the hardware store to make sure you buy the right size flange.

When you are ready to install a new toilet flange and seal, simply repeat these steps in reverse order.

Toilet Installation Professionals

This job can be difficult and messy but getting your toilet back in working order is worth the effort. If you’re not up for the task, or just don’t have the time, call your local Mr. Rooter® Plumbing. Our professional plumbers can make quick work of your broken toilet flange. Call us or request an estimate today.