Toilet Flange Too Low? Double Wax Ring or Extender Spacer Kit?

AllThumbsDIY - Toilet Flange Too Low

Low toilet flange is a common problem when installing a new (or in my case thicker mortar base). Unless your toilet is properly mated and sealed to the waste pipe, you may face problems related to sewer gas odor (it’s very unhealthy and unpleasant) and/or fluid leaks.

The purpose of this article is to review current products that may solve this problem.

BACKGROUND

Last year I decided to gut and remodel my small bathroom. Because the sub flooring around the waste pipe was in very good shape, I left it in place.

allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-b010-toilet-flange-old-vs-new-flBeing a newbie DIYer, I realized I made a mistake AFTER tiling my new floor. You see, because my bathroom was so small, I decided not to use a shower pan which meant I poured thicker mortar bed than I normally would have to pitch water to the shower drain.

To make the long story short, my thicker mortar bed, mesh backer, liner, thinset and new floor tiles all added up to raising the overall height of the floor by approximately 1.25”. That meant my toilet flange was now 1.25” BELOW my new floor. Yikes!

allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-b020-fluidmaster-jumbo-wax-ring-with-cone-flAfter researching around a bit, I noticed lot of people in my situation used double (stacked) toilet wax rings to compensate for the height disparity so I took one plumber’s advice and bought two wax rings: a regular “thin” wax ring along with FluidMaster’s jumbo wax ring extender kit (which included extra thick wax ring with a built-in polyethylene flange, similar to Oatey 90203 Jumbo Johni-Ring with Plastic Horn and Extra Long Bolts).

This solution seemed to have accomplished the job except that a year later, I am now starting to smell a faint sewer gas odor on and off. Obviously breathing in sewer gas is very very unhealthy, especially when all windows are closed during the hot summer or freezing cold days, I decided to research little bit more in depth about implementing a permanent fix.

OPTIONS

allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-anatomy-copper-to-brass-flange-v4-flOf course, the obvious solution was to gut the floor, remove the lead and oakum, de-solder the flange, add a coupling and extra pipe and add a new flange to match the higher.

But that solution was unappetizing not only because of the time and expense involved, but that would have forced me to disturb the mortar bed along with a PVC bed liner that was pitched to the shower drain. So I decided to explore some NON-DESTRUCTIVE options:

  • Option #1: STACKED WAX Rings – Simply use the same double stacked toilet wax ring setup again.
  • Option #2: Extender Kit – Extender is nothing more than a “funnel” that provides solid conduit path from the bowl horn to the toilet flange. Some are standalone (Zurn Flo-Bowl Jr) and some are part of a kit (Set-Rite).
  • Option #3: Spacer Kit – Spacer kits come with hard PVC rings with various thickness. Some comes with built in gaskets, others either come with separate gaskets or none at all (in that instance you need to use mastic of some sort like a caulking or plumbers putty). These rings are designed to be stacked in whatever combination to match the new floor surface level. Some kits also come with a toilet flange extender (see option #2).
  • Option #4: Sani Seal – This is a fairly new product on the market. Sani Seal is a thick, doughnut shaped made of polyurethane foam ring with a built in cone mold on the bottom that is designed to replace the stacked wax rings. According to the manufacturer, Sani Seal can also be stacked.
All of these products require that your old toilet flange be in a good physical condition to ensure positive seal. If you find that the flange has rust rot, cracks, or other physical defects, or any rots on the subflooring, you need to address those issue first.)

 

REVIEW – DOUBLE / STACKED WAX RINGS

allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-b024-stacked-wax-ring-weak-points-flThis is probably the most common path taken by DIYers. It’s a simple configuration of one regular wax ring stacked on top by another “extra thick” wax ring with a built-in flange. The entire setup can be purchased under $10 and can be installed with relative ease (although it was a nerve wrecking process for me because you won’t know if the proper seal was made until you flush the toilet).

But in reviewing the double stacked wax ring configuration in detail, I started to wonder if there were some inherent design flaws or weaknesses that attributed to my (sewer gas) situation. After some thinking, I came up with three possible flaws:

(A) Horizontal racking force on the toilet flange bolts – With approximately 1.5″ space between the flange and the bottom of the toilet, flange bolts are not supported horizontally. It would only take a slight bump on the toilet to throw these bolts sideways, possibly damaging the wax ring, creating gaps or even possibly cracking the toilet ceramic.
(B) Bonding failure between the toilet wax rings – with the toilet being slightly wobbly due to uneven tile floor, it is conceivable that the vertical pressure applied on these wax rings are not even, possibly causing gaps in certain spots between wax rings.
(c) Top wax ring seal failure – I’d imagine you want a solid “squishing” effect on the top (toilet bowl horn) and the bottom (toilet flange). However, in the case of a stacked wax rings, top wax ring is forced down on another wax ring that is softer than a toilet flange surface. Since there is no solid bottom surface to squeeze the top ring, that could potentially prevent the top ring from being seated tightly against the bowl horn.
(d) Head or Hydrostatic pressure failure – Increased fluid pressure due to clogs (or even using a plunger) can potentially burst weak spots in between “seams”.

Due to these reasons, I decided AGAINST implementing the double or stacked wax ring setup.

REVIEW – TOILET FLANGE EXTENDERS / WAX-FREE TOILET SEAL

Toilet flange extenders are constructed with either soft or hard PVC, providing solid pathway from the bowl horn to the toilet flange on the floor. I believe products in this category are designed to replace the use of wax rings only, although Fernco advertises that it can handle toilet flanges that are up to 3/4″ lower than the floor surface.
Most are designed to fit INSIDE the toilet drain pipe which will provide a good, solid, positive seal but there are potential issues to be aware:

  • You need to know the exact size of the drain pipe in order to purchase the right part. That meant taking the toilet apart for few days.
  • It’s my understanding that if you have a 4″ drain pipe, small reduction to inner diameter is acceptable. But if you have a 3″ drain pipe, you would want to minimize any reduction to the inner diameter as that would reduce the flow rate. I found out that the bowl horn’s inner diameter is anywhere between 2.0″ to 2.5″. So as long as the product does not reduce the maximum size of a bowl horn, clog won’t be an issue.
  • Some older toilet designs from 1960s or earlier may have a protruding bowl horn which might create some clearance issues.

 

Fernco

allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-d030-review-ferncoManufacturer URL: Fernco Inc.
Origin: Made in USA
Product: Wax Free Toilet Seal, Part # FTs-3, FTS-4, FTS-4CF
Installation Instructions: Click here and here
Price: FTS-3, FTS-4 , and FTS-4CF
 
Fernco has been around for a long time and I know most plumbers I have used in the past (yes, I hire plumbers for jobs that are beyond my DIY skills) all recommend Fernco. Fernco is synonymous with rubber products like ProFlex shielded coupling, etc.

Fernco’s wax-free toilet seal product is comprised of flexible PVC that uses adhesives and barbed fitting (in lieu of gaskets) to create positive bowl horn and waste pipe seals. These positive seal connections are designed to seal out any fluid or gas leaks in addition to handling head-pressure (when a clog occurs).

However, there may be some potential issues:

  • Concern #1 – Fernco’s installation instruction stresses that the bowl horn surface needs to be absolutely clean of oil or wax residue that might prevent the adhesive from sticking properly. But what about toilet surface imperfections like pits, bumps, or irregular bull horn shape?
  • Concern #2 – The adhesive surface ring is approximately .29″ wide. What is the life expectancy of this adhesive under repeated exposure to liquid? I am not exactly sure how the gasket is made but maybe it is something like Loctite Elastomeric Adhesives and Sealants with Flextec™ Technology?
  • Concern #3 – Barbed mating reduces the inner diameter of the waste pipe. Does that increase the likelihood of a clog?
  • Concern #4 – Fernco’s advertising states that “… Toilet can be removed and reinstalled with the same Fernco Wax Free Toilet Seal still attached…”. Maybe that’s true but unseating a toilet places a lot of pulling stress on that narrow adhesive surface due to the barbed connection. If it were me, I would opt to install a new one and not risk getting a leak
  • Lastly, some users have complained that in contrast to Fernco’s advertising, this product does not fit well with certain cast iron waste pipes (click here for complaints). According to Fernco’s customer rep, FTS-4 works with cast iron pipes with inner diameter between 3.96″ to 4.02″ but some customers reported that their cast iron waste pipes measured 3.75″ I.D. In addition, unlike PVC or copper waste pipes, cast iron pipes tend to cling on to aggregates in its pipe, which might also contribute to poor-fitting.

    Fluid Master

    allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-d050-fluidmasterManufacturer URL: FluidMaster
    Origin: Assembled in Mexico
    Product: Wax-free Bowl Kit 3″ or 4″, 3″ only or 4″ only.
    Installation Instructions: Click here (very basic – they need to have the detail instructions online!)
    Price: 7500P8, 7503, 7504

    You’ve probably seen Fluidmaster’s plumbing products that come in red and green boxes and are ubiquitous in any plumbing sections at large home improvement stores.

    Unlike Fernco, Fluidmaster utilizes a “special rubber”. Based on how it felt and looked, I believe the gasket is made from “red rubber” or styrene butadiene rubber. Red rubber is considered to be a low cost flange gasket material that is non-oil resistant compound and resists flow under compression. It is supposed to offer moderate to good performance against low pressure with good aging characteristics and abrasion resistance. On the flange side, it uses what looks like an closed-cell foam based O-ring to create a positive seal.

    Here some potential issues that I thought of that may apply to your situation:

    • Concern #1 – Fluidmaster extender is made of hard PVC. That means there is no “give” when compressed down by the toilet. If the toilet flange is too high or there simple is not enough clearance between the extender and toilet flange, one or both components might break
    • Concern #1 – Although Fluidmaster 7500P is an universal model that can fit either the 3″ or 4″ waste pipe, using this model on a 4″ waste pipe may reduce the flow rate.
    • In addition, one user have complained that his older 1950’s toilet design (with protruding horn) prevented him from using this product so you may want to pay attention to when your toilet was made (if you were going to re-use it).
       

      Set-Rite

      allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-d010-review-extender-set-rite-flManufacturer URL: Set-Rite
      Product: Single Extender Only, Part # SREX2003Y
      Origin: Made in USA
      Price: $5.99

      Set-rite is a relative new comer based out of New Jersey. Although you can purchase this extender by itself, it is really meant to be used along with Set-Rite’s spacer rings. So instead of repeating myself, read the review on Set-Rite’s extension kit in the Extension Review section.

      Zurn

      allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-c020-review-zurn-flo-bowl-jr-flManufacturer URL: Zurn Industries LLC
      Product: Flo-Bowl Jr, Part # CF2991
      Origin: Made in USA
      Price: $8 (found only at local plumbing stores)

      Zurn manufactures products for use in commercial, municipal, and industrial markets. As far as I can tell, this particular Zurn part is found at plumbing supply stores. Information found on this product is non-existent but based on the picture, it follows the same design principle as the Fluidmaster’s wax-free seal products.

      Based on lack of information and reviews, I would suggest you look at alternative products.
       

      REVIEW – TOILET FLANGE SPACERS / EXTENDER KITS

      If your floor surface is more than half an inch above the closet flange (in my case 1.25″), you must extend the flange so it’s flush with the new floor surface.

      A closet flange extender or spacer ring(s) with flexible gaskets can do that job.

      Oatey 1/2 inch Toilet Flange Spacer

      allthumbsdiy-articles-plumbing-toilet-flange-extender-oatey-spacer-ring-flI have seen this product being recommended by professional plumbers in various forums. One distinguishing feature being promoted by the manufacturer is that its space rings are made of solid polyurethane (not hollow) and thus can be stacked with confidence.

      Because these spacers are sold individually, you will need to purchase the hardware separately:

    Oatey Closet Flange Spacer Kit

    allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-c010-reviews-quik-fix-extension-kit-flManufacturer URL: Oatey
    Product: Closet Flange Spacer Kit, Part # 43645
    Origin: TBD
    Price: Oatey 43645 Closet Flange Spacer Kit, 1/2-Inch

    Oatey parts are widely available at various online and offline stores. Oatey is another trusted plumbing parts manufacturer that has been around for a long time.

    Oatey’s spacer rings are also constructed of solid polyurethane like Quik-Fix spacer rings, except that it does not come with built-in gaskets. Unlike Q-F’s foam gaskets, Oatey utilizes O-ring gaskets with 2 channel rings to block out liquid and gas.

    If the kit is not available, you can piece meal 2 parts together as seen above (BTW, two different gaskets seen are the same, one is just flipped over).
     

    Set-Rite

    allthumbsdiy-images-toilet-flange-extender-kits-e020-review-set-rite-flManufacturer URL: Set-Rite
    Product: Full Extender Kit, Spacer Kit
    Origin: Made in USA
    Price: Full Extender Kit $24.99, Spacer Kit $13.95

    I like this Full Extender Kit contains almost everything I need to solve my toilet flange problem. The kit included:

    • Four Spacer Rings – 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″ & 3/4″
    • One Set-Rite Gasket
    • One Set-Rite Extender
    • Six 3-1/2″ Stainless Steel Screws

    To complete the repair, you would also need to purchase a standard wax ring (without the plastic cone/funnel) as well as “Johnny” bolts or T-Bolts in proper length.

    Installation process is simple: install the gasket on top of the toilet flange on the floor, add spacer rings to match the new floor surface level, add the extender, add a standard wax ring the set the toilet on top. I like the product but I see some potential issues:

    • Set-Rite spacer rings are hollow.
    • Rings also serve as bay flanges by having joints that can be snapped in half.
    • One foam gasket (3/16″ thick) mounted on the flange serves to prevent both the liquid and sewer gas leaks

    Although the ring is hollow, I don’t think that is a big deal since it has a sectional ribbing support so I doubt it will have a structural failure (I am guessing the toilet will break before the rings are crushed).

    The part I do not like is that it has weakened joints to snap the ring in half (to convert it into bay flanges). I would like to see Set-Rite make two different types of rings for difference purposes.

    The other part I do not like is that a 3/16″ thick foam ring sits on top of the toilet flange to seal out any liquid or gas. I think the thickness should be increased to provide seal to uneven surface but I would much prefer to see something like Fernco’s barbed pipe end or Fluidmaster’s foam ring that gets inserted into the waste pipe.
     

    CONCLUSION

    With so many good products on the market, it’s easier than ever to properly raise a toilet flange that is too low.

    Just make sure to take your time to assess your own situation before making any purchases.

    In my next post, I will show you how I corrected my low toilet flange.

     

    PS. If you found this article to be useful, why not sign up for my newsletter? Just look for a signup form on the upper right hand side of your screen. Thanks!

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46 thoughts on “Toilet Flange Too Low? Double Wax Ring or Extender Spacer Kit?”

  1. Kevin,
    I read your article on Toilet Flange Too Low? and I believe you have some of the facts wrong on a number of the products you reviewed. Specifically, the Set-Rite Extender Kit is the only product you featured that is Code Approved out of all of them. As far as I am concerned the other kits are pretty much worthless. Some of the ‘plastic rings’ shown involve the use of silicone between rings. Which if you have ever seen silicone exposed to moisture it becomes literally ‘peelable’ just like caulking will. The push type flange repair kits with ribbed will only work on a ‘perfect’ flange and not one with uneven surfaces like a lead bend or cast iron flange. I spoke with the owner Alan Hughes about 6 months ago and had asked him some of the same questions you had…namely the spacer construction which I found out were tested to 500 lb rigidity and the gasket was designed to be flexible enough for the extender to fit ‘snugly’ when pushed down flush and still provide a water & gas tight seal. I have used the Set-Rite kits on several toilets, after finding that a vast majority were originally installed with a low flange. Obviously there are some plumbers out there that still believe they could throw an extra wax ring in there…especially knowing the check will have cleared by the time it begins to leak! If you haven’t checked out the video on the Set-Rite website I would…I put my laptop on the vanity in the first bathroom’s toilet I worked on…it helped to replay over and over while working!!

  2. Tom-

    Thanks for your feedback. I agree with you that Set-Rite offers some compelling reasons. and thank for letting me know of the 500lb max limit.

    One concern I still have is that all of their rings have per-determined “break” points to convert them into bay flanges. I know I have seen my share of brass flanges that were bent down in corners and it is conceivable that one or more ring can snap that results in the extender being out of alignment.

    I also wholeheartedly agree with you about not using regular silicone caulks between spacer rings as I have too seen them peel off. One caulking I have seen that truly works in a wet environment is 3M Marine Fast Cure 5200 Adhesive Sealant. I just did not want to use it in this project because I did not know if it would react with any of the foam gaskets.

    I have finished re-working on my toilet and will publish that post soon. I ended up using the Quik-Fix spacer rings and plenty of wax rings (not in the double stacked configuration) that I believe will last a long time.

    I will outline it in detail as to why I chose that particular path in the article.

    I look forward to your comment on that article.

    Kevin

  3. if you have access from below and the pipe is ABS the best is just cut the pipe, extend it and set it at the right height with a new flange. This can be done from above too if you are taking out subfloor. Best way to prevent leaks is start fresh. Most houses now are black ABS which is really easy to work with.

    I just replaced a toilet in my 70’s house where the flange was below the old tile and yes the toilet had leaked. Previous owners must not have cared about the smell because when I took that old toilet out you could see the wax ring never made full contact. That thing had been leaking 30 years. Ripped out the floor and did it right. Now I am thinking if they did that one wrong the others are probably wrong too. Plumbers estimate $200 plus. Doing it myself? About $20 in supplies. Albeit a good half day lost.

  4. @tim-

    thanks for your post. i agree that there is a certain satisfaction when doing the job yourself.

  5. Hi Kevin,
    Your first contributor, Tom, was a bit unfair. Your problem was finding a cure for your predicament with the products available from your local suppliers which we as consumers have at our disposal. But he did point out that the “Set-Rite Extender Kit” was the only code approved one yet all the rest of them are readily available out there to play with so all was not in vain.

    Thanks for your research, my problem is simple and before tiling my bathroom decided to have a look out in the void for possible solutions before the remodel.

    Thanks for flushing out all the possible cures, and giving us the poop on the how to’s and not to’s too! I know that doing it wrong will cause a stink. It’s only a pipe dream until you finally do it right?

  6. @Colm-

    Thanks for your kind words. I didn’t mind Tom’s comments either. As long as everyone remains civil, we can agree to disagree on just about everything.

    Thanks again!

    Kevin

  7. We had porcelain tile installed in our hall and adjacent half-bath by Home Depot. (Epic issues omitted here…but I will say that I had to dig major amounts of grout & mortar out of the flange.) Between the leveling needed in the half-bath and the thickness of the tile, not even an extra=thick wax ring came near to sealing the gap. We got the Quik-Fix extenders at Lowe’s and they were an easy solution to our problem. Merci beaucoup!!

  8. @Tim-

    Thanks for your comment. Can you do me a favor and send me your marketing / spec sheets to: info (at) allthumbsdiy (com)?

  9. This is very informative and much appreciated guidance and discussion. So, your advice for this situation would be much appreciated. I have. a toilet that sat on concrete, so the cast iron flange sits level with the concrete. I have installed a floor in top of the concrete basement which required raising the subfloor which would suggest for the toilet when tile would be installed a 7 inch gap from the top of the flange to where the top of the tile would be, give or take a 1/4 inch. Aside from breaking up the concrete and installing and extension to the pipe and a new flange, any suggestions? Thanks

  10. @bob-

    I hate to say it, but I think 6.75-7.25″ gap is just way too much for any of the options I’ve mentioned here.

    Besides, being that this toilet is in the lowest part of the house, I think you would have potential for leakage issues, should there be a sewer line backup.

    As you said, I think the right solution here is to breakup the concrete using a small electric jack hammer and install a new p-trap with correct height.

    Let us know how it turns out.

    Kevin

  11. We recently completed a new floor tile project. The project involved removal of the old linoleum and subfloor and adding thin set, Schluter Ditra XL floor base,motar and tile. This raised the surface approx. 1/2″ above the orig. toilet flange. The tiler suggested adding an extender ring or two, so I bought two rings and new longer T-bolts and a new standard wax ring. This sounded simple enough. I installed the two new bolts and the two pvc extender rings. I installed the new Oakey wax ring on the toilet with “easy” to remove plastic sleeve. The instructions say to press the wax ring to the toilet bowl and simply remove the plastic shell. The shell just pulls the wax ring with it and/or tears and comes of in (7) pieces. Kind of messy. This completed, I set the bowl onto the raised flange, tightened the bolts. Installed a new water connection line, since the old one was approx. 1/2″ short. Opened the water valve, filling the tank and bowl. All was well, until I was about the do the flush test and had a revelation, I don’t think I removed the rag in the floor drain, since I was distracted with the wax ring shell removal. I quickly backed away from the flush handle, scratched my head, had a few words with myself and put a do not touch sign on the toilet. The next day I picked up a new wax ring, shop vac’d the water from the bowl and tank, removed the bowl, confirmed the rag was present. I then gave thanks for small favors, realizing the wax ring did not make it to the lowest, original flange. This would have been problem with sewer gas and leaking under pressure. I thank you for your comments and I will take a moment to choose the best solution The two extenders did raise the surface just above the tile floor. I will check out the options mentioned..

  12. Well I slept on it and determined the best solution was to take the wax ring previously installed, but new and transfer it directly to the original low flange plate, followed by an extender plate aligned on the new longer T-bolts. I compressed the extender plate until it was just above the new tile floor line and flat. The wax ring formed a great seal. I then placed a new reinforced Oakey was ring on the toilet bowl and positioned it on top of the extender plate and compressed it with the toilet, forming another great seal and sufficient T-bolts to secure the toilet to the original PVC flange plate. By the way this time made sure the rag was removed from the drain opening. Job completed. By using two wax rings and an extender plate preset with the first lower wax ring, it provided a very nice seal and foundation to set the toilet, as opposed to trying just to stacked wax rings.

  13. @Don-

    Thanks for letting me know. If you haven’t done so, I would recommend a bead of caulking around the toilet to minimize horizontal movement.

    Kevin

  14. Hello-
    Great article! I was wondering, given your knowledge of flanges, extenders, and brands of these things- had you heard of the Culwell Flange?
    It seems to be a flange that seals to the floor- this way water cannot get underneath, ruining the sub-flooring.
    I was researching turning my bathroom into an accessible one, and came across this flange and would like to see if anyone has any first hand knowledge of the flange. The website says it is made in the USA, and could save property from thousands of dollars in damage. I called the number given, and the lady who answers the phone had a lot to say, sent me spec sheets (which I found out are available on the site as well).
    I was wondering if you, or anyone had heard about this product, it seems to be extremely innovative, and unique in the market.
    Their website is http://www.culwellflange.com
    Thanks!

  15. @Melissa-

    Interesting concept, but I haven’t had chance to look at it. At $39, it’s a bit pricey but it looks to be well engineered. Have you decided to use this product?

  16. I have a similar problem. We had our bathroom floor tiled six years ago and it was fine up until a few months ago when a leak was noticed coming from under the bowl. I removed the toilet and found what appears to be two wax rings. I also noticed the tile was pretty flush with the flange in front but about 1/4 inch or less lower in the back. The tile comes right up to the flange so lt looks like no water leaked down into the joists below. I tried two products, one containing wax and the other did not, both with warranties not to leak. Both have. Any other options?

  17. @Bill H

    Sorry to hear about the leak.

    If the flange is 1/4″ lower than the newly tiled floor, I think a simple jumbo wax ring would be sufficient? Have you tried something like Oatey Jumbo Wax Ring?

    Another possible cause of the leak is actually not a leak at all. If you have a “sweaty” water tank, you may have water drips near the base, making you think you have a leak.

    A sweaty tank happens when cold water coming into the tank is much colder than the ambient temperature of the bathroom. There are couple of solutions (i.e. insulating the interior tank) and I am going to work on one possible solution and post it soon.

    In the meantime, I would place a towel underneath the tank for few days and check the toilet again.

    Kevin

  18. . I noticed sewer odor shortly after I moved into my 1960’s house. when I pulled up the toilet, I found that where the lead soil pipe meets the floor flange, part of the lead pipe was broken away. I used a wax ring with built on extender. 5 years has passed and I am now beginning to have that odor again. I thought after reading your article, that the Fernco might be the solution.

  19. @Terry-

    I am not an expert in plumbing but I have to wonder what caused the soil pipe to crack in the first place.

    Since the smell has returned, I would take a closer look at that soil pipe connection to ensure that it did not crack any further. Another wax ring and/or Fernco at this point would be a band-aid that might cause bigger problems down the road.

    Good luck

  20. Thanks, looks like the floor has been repaired and brigded for support. Perhaps a previous leak and a portion of the floor replaced beneath the toilet. The lead pipe where peened @ the flange is cracked & broken. Terry

  21. @Terry-

    If that happened to me, I would seriously consider cutting off the broken piece, rather than trying to come up with a fix. Nothing is worse than leaking toilet (or sewer gas!!)

  22. I’m hiring a plumber and getting different stories. Some say extenders don’t work and will leak. Others say it’s okay. Price is much less than cutting the pipe (which has a 90* only 2″ from the floor).

    Can any one tell me if using the extenders works (by someone professional) for a long time? I don’t want to revisit this 3 years from now. Or does one have to cut the pipe and get the flange flush?

    I had a floor retiled with a 1/2″‘ backingboard added (or 3/4″). Toilet leaks into floor below when flushing once in a while.
    Thanks!!

  23. @curls-

    thanks for leaving your comment. allthumbsdiy is a do it yourself site, mostly written by me, so there are no plumbers here. the toilet flange article was done a while ago after my research and posing similar questions to plumbers.

    my main problem of cutting off the pipe was that i would have had to disturb a quite a bit of tiles around it.

    having said that, my extenders have been in place over 5 years and i have yet to have a single leak. hope this helps. good luck!

  24. Thanks for your two articles on this subject. My problem was similar except that it was the result of poor construction from new – doubled up wax rings discovered only when they leaked. The flange was in inch below the tile surface and the 1/2 inch subflooring under it had too large an opening plus a little rot from water. I cut way the rot and enlarged to hole slightly oversize for a flange and spacers. Oh yeah, the contractor who did this had overlapped tile over the edges of the old flange, so I had to chip away tile and mortar bed to make the hole fit the flange. At least I had bottom access! With your encouragement, I made a hole through tile, mortar, and subfloor through which the flange and spacers all fit. I marked up a new 3/4″ plywood subfloor reinforcement and dry fitted it to mark for the new waste pipe pass-through. I modified your scheme of spacers by putting 3 of them on top of my new sub-subfloor so that they support the flange in compression from the new subfloor up. To do all of this I had to cut the old waste pipe and weld in a new longer piece to attach a new flange. Since I was designing on the fly and am pretty slow, this all took me a day-and-a half. Now all is well. At least we have two baths – but now I will have to steel myself to take the other toilet off and see how well they did that one (before it leaks).

  25. @ Mark-

    It’s awesome to hear that you are working on this project. Yeah, I agree that you should take a look at your second toilet. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

    Kevin

  26. I’m researching a water leak from my toilet. The plumber said that the pipe was far below the floor line and was installed with and extender AND double wax rings. Your research indicates it should be one or the other and I’m wondering if it’s going to be obvious to my builder that the plumbing was poorly installed based on that fact. I’ve been looking for code or best practice on this subject but haven’t found much beyond your article so far. Would anyone care to comment on this?

  27. Kevin
    thanks for this idea. here’s what i did: my flange sat about 1/8 below floor level, i took two 1/4 flange spacers and siliconed them together. i took normal wax ring and put it on the metal flange. i put heated it up by running in hot water (wrapped in this plastic bag), then pushed down on it slowy and evenly….until it was about 1/16 in thick. i cleaned up all the excess wax that oozed out.
    then i screwed in only two screws on the pvc spacers. i put another normal wax ring on top of the spacer and installed toilet….
    working like a champ! thanks!

  28. Thanks for the article and trying to help us out. Today I discovered the Oatey extender and plastic seal installed in a toilet I removed from a newly-purchased 1986 vintage house. What a poor design. I’m glad the toilet tank had cracked. If it hadn’t I would not have known this extender was seeping at the plastic seal. The seal design is highly questionable in my view and leaks are inevitable. After removing I cleaned everything up and put the extender back using a standard wax ring instead of the plastic seal. It’s hard to imagine how it could leak now. On top of the extender I’ll use a wax ring with flange. I think another commenter did something similar.

  29. Hi my name is Danielle and I am new to toilet install . My question is I finished my basement off and putting down 10 mm laminate I am in my bath and not sure about putting the laminate around the toilet or sit it on the laminate. Now my flange is level with the concrete so do I need an extension or not or should I put the toilet directly to the concrete? Thanks for getting back to me.

  30. @ Danielle-

    Happy Thanksgiving! If I was in your situation, I would install the laminate around the toilet flange and have the toilet sit on top of the laminate for stability. 10 mm equals roughly .4 inches so I would think an extended toilet wax ring would be more than sufficient, considering you are installing on a concrete floor.

    Good luck and let us know how you make out!

    Kevin

  31. If my cast iron flange is about even (or even slightly below) with the subfloor, is it recommended to build up the flange a little? Or will I be ok with just a jumbo wax ring? Thanks!

  32. @ Nomar

    I believe plumbers usually install flange lip to rest on the subflooring to provide additional support by screwing down the flange. If you haven’t done the work, I would definitely do that.

  33. We have a TOTO 1 piece toilet purchased 18 years ago, and never had a problem on the old porcelain floor. It must have been slightly lower and used a lot of wax as there was no damage to the subfloor. So glad to have discovered your site and get some idea of how to solve our problem with new porcelain tile floors leaving the toilet flange about an inch too low. My husband ran up to Home Depot and found NEXT by Danco Perfect SEAL, wax ring with bolts, specifically for when the flange is below the floor level. This Perfect SEAL works for flange heights 1/2″ aboe to 1-1/2 ” below the floor. There is a rubber seal with wax insert and an optional rubber extension gasket if needed which goes directly on the toilet. (2 separate pieces). Steel zinc plated bolts and nuts, stainless steel washers, and retainer washers. We will hope this works!

  34. We use wax rings on all toilet installs where I work–and have for presumably the 40 years or so the oldest building has been around.

    Sometimes, if the flange is too low, we double stack them. This is 1,000-ish apartments, many of which have at least two toilets. Overall, I’d say its an efficient solution.

    Yes, sometimes the plastic horn can crush–it can also be damaged by using a snake to clear the drain. Awkward movement (such as sideways) on a toilet can dislodge a seal and perhaps cause a leak. But out of, let’s say 1500 toilets, that happens very infrequently. Most “leaks” I’ve come upon with toilets have been related to supply line or the stop, or even the tank bolts (gasket failure.)

    Usually something has “happened” to make the toilet leak–someone fell into it, etc.

  35. Unfortunately, I found this article after I rebuilt my upstairs toilet and its respective drain system. However, I thought I’d toss another comment into the mix. I’ll provide the entire story so that you understand where my head was at during the process. For a little initial context, the toilet/home discussed below are approximately 12 years old.

    The entire project started with a fluorescent light fixture replacement in our downstairs laundry room. I bought a replacement fixture (LED) and was ready to install. However, when I removed the fluorescent fixture I noticed a small spot of dry mold (maybe 4 inches in diameter) and what appeared to be an old water stain hidden behind the fixture on the ceiling. Immediately I recognized that I was directly beneath an upstairs bathroom, but I wasn’t entirely sure what bathroom plumbing apparatus was above this exact spot. In addition, I also wasn’t sure if the mold and the stain were new or old, which is important because we are the second owners. So, I thought about what I should do for 24 hours or so. Essentially debating on if I should hang the new LED light as planned or start pulling apart of the ceiling in the laundry room. Eventually, I decided it was best to cut a hole in the drywall so I could see what was going on inside the ceiling. Why? Well for one, we had recently completed some foundation work. So, I thought, what if the toilet shifted off it’s wax ring during the slow settling of the foundation or the recent lift. It would have also kept me up at night not knowing what was going on behind the new light fixture. That said, I also had reason to believe (just by looking at how the fluorescent light had been installed) that someone had at least removed this light fixture in the past, and it wasn’t anyone in my family. Did they also get into the ceiling at some point???? I could not figure this out – maybe or maybe not, it was difficult to determine. I might also add that this specific upstairs bathroom is rarely used.

    So, I cut a small hole in the laundry room ceiling and found that I was staring directly up at the 3″ PVC toilet drain piping. Specifically, I was directly beneath the toilet flange. So, I went upstairs and pulled the flapper valve and let the toilet run for a few minutes. To be honest, I was somewhat surprised by the drips that hit the laundry room floor in front of me every 10 – 20 seconds. I just knew that I was going to get into this drywall only to be on a wild goose chase and never find the source/cause of the dry mold.

    I immediately go upstairs and start disassembling the toilet (a Mansfield) directly above this leaking flange. When I pulled the toilet from the flange most of the wax ring stayed on the toilet horn. The wax seemed fairly compressed, somewhat dried out on the edges around the toilet horn, and had what appeared to be mold growing in,on, and around it. When I looked at the toilet flange it appeared to be very rusty. But I could still see some stainless portions of the metallic flange. Upon further inspection, all 6 screws securing the flange to the wooden sub-floor were completely rusted away. Immediately my suspicions of foundation shifts causing the leak which caused the mold on the laundry room ceiling appear to be validated. The ring had hardened, the foundation moved, and now we have a gap between the horn and the wax causing the leak, which rusted away the flange bolts and only exacerbated the problem.

    To solve the problem I decided that the best thing to do was cut away the 3″ PVC in the sub-floor and install a new flange. I wasn’t entirely sure I had a bad flange, but heck I’ve already got the ceiling open I might as well remove it from the list of possible root causes. I also thought having an open hole between the two floors would only benefit me while drying the sub-floor, which really wasn’t that bad (again this bathroom is rarely used). So, I let the area dry for a week or two (I had other things going on at the time, so now that I knew the immediate issue was eliminated I could go back to what I was doing at the time) and go to the local hardware store (what felt like 100x) to get the parts I need to do this job (replace the 3″ PVC connecting to the toilet flange (including a hydrostatic leak test), the toilet flange, all hardware connecting the toilet bowl to the flange, all hardware connecting the bowl to the tank, all hardware inside the tank, the valve lever, the water hose). The new pipe is 3″ solid core PVC, the new toilet flange is PVC with a stainless ring, the new fasteners fixing the flange to the sub-floor are solid brass, all fasteners connecting the toilet bowl to the tank are stainless, and I decided on the ~$2 standard sized wax ring. I watched a few videos on how to install a wax ring on a toilet horn, cleaned the underside of the toilet real well, and proceeded to install the wax ring on the horn with the flat side towards the toilet bowl. I pick the toilet straight up and set it down on the flange with the bolts sticking through the porcelain and I can immediately tell that the wax ring never touches the toilet flange. I pick the toilet back up, lay it on its side, and confirm that the wax ring never touches the flange. Hrmmmm…… This was completely unexpected. I inspect the toilet horn, the wax ring, and the toilet flange and everything seems to be in order. I looked at the depth of the toilet flange beneath the tile floor and thought, that doesn’t look like much (about a quarter inch of thinset and another quarter inch of tile, at a maximum there was no more than 3/4″ in total distance between the top of the flange and the top of the tile). I then look at the toilet (again, a Mansfield) and realize that the toilet horn is so far up inside the body of the bowl there’s really no way to connect this toilet to the toilet flange with a standard sized wax ring unless the flange is above the tile floor, which wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me – long-term anyway. I can’t imagine that people replace toilets more often than they replace floor coverings., but maybe that’s an incorrect assumption.

    So I go back to the local home hardware store and purchase the jumbo sized wax ring with the PE core. I then remove the standard sized wax ring from the toilet horn and install the new jumbo wax ring in its place (beveled side towards the toilet bowl and PE core concave down). I lift the toilet straight up again and set it down on the flange and the wax touches. SUCCESS!!!! I continue to push down gently on the toilet bowl to set the ring in place and the toilet doesn’t move…… It’s already touching the tile. I now have a little internal debate going on, do wax rings generally compress this easily or is the ring barely touching the flange. So, I pulled the toilet back up to take a look and found that only about 50% of the jumbo wax ring with PE core had touched the toilet flange, the remainder of the wax ring was likely fractions of an inch away from the toilet flange. Regardless, I now immediately know what happened sometime in the past – possibly when the home was built 12 years ago. A jumbo wax ring was installed, the person installing felt the wax ring make contact and assumed the ring had been compressed when in fact it did not have full contact with the flange.

    Now the question is, do I go back to the home hardware store (for what will feel like the 1,000x) to see if they have another potential solution, or do I use the standard wax ring in conjunction with the jumbo ring in some way? Let’s use them both I thought, but how? I inspect both of the rings and decide that the best option is to attached the standard ring to the bottom side of the jumbo ring (to form an oval like cross-section), which maximizes contact area between the rings and should reduce the potential for leaks. My assumption is that when compressed this approach will also cause the two rings to collapse together into the denser middle portion of the now oval shaped wax ring, which should also reduce the potential for leaks by forming a tighter seal on each component (the toilet flange and the toilet horn). We shall see I guess. Again, I wish I had found this article before I made my decisions. That said, I might have made the same choices.

    I would be interested in hearing what everyone thinks. Do you think I’ll have another leaking wax ring issue with this toilet sometime in the next few years?

  36. Hi there,

    I’ve got a situation that is nearly keeping me up at night. I’m almost ready to call in the “pros” but… being a stubborn lass I am giving it one last shot first at figuring it out myself. Hoping you might advise…

    What I’ve got going on is a broken flange that needs to be extended up to the height of my soon-to-be-new tile floor (Ditra + porcelain tile will be going down). The outer ring of the flange is cracked. It currently sits about 1/2″ above the sub floor (or about 3/4″—1.5″ below when the Ditra and tile go down).

    I’m thinking that I have a few options:

    1) Fix the broken flange with a brass flange ring (or similar) then build up the extender like you said in your other post. Silicone caulk between the brass ring and the flange should keep things sealed. Wax between the extender bits should also keep things sealed.

    2) Use an extender kit like you mention. Fix the broken flange first to reinforce things and then pop the extender in.

    3) Remove the broken flange in it’s entirety. Lay down the Ditra and the tile and top it off with a new flange.

    To be honest, all options are pretty appetizing. Number three particularly, since with that option I wouldn’t be faffing around with extenders or spacers. But… I’d have some hard work chipping away at the PVC flange. Not fun. Plus, I’m not sure that the waste pipe would come up far enough to meet the new flange without coupling on some extra length.

    Question to you: what are your thoughts about this situation, particularly where the new floor hasn’t gone down yet… if you could do your situation all over again differently, would you have tried to replace the flange instead of extending it?

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