How to Remove Old Toilet Flange

Does your toilet move too much, wobble or rock, or does it leak on the floor? This could be a sign that you need to remove and replace your old toilet flange. It is what connects the toilet to the floor and the waste pipe below it. It is usually made of cast iron in many older homes, so the metal is extremely brittle and can break or crack over time. This makes the toilet unstable or prone to leakages. More modern bathroom fixtures will have a toilet flange made from PVC, which can be easier to remove. On the other hand, an older cast iron toilet flange will take more patience and effort.

What You Will Need

Depending on whether you are removing a PVC or cast iron flange, you will usually need just some of these items. But it’s best to prepare everything just in case.

  • Old newspapers or rags
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Putty knife
  • Wrench
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Cold Chisel
  • Internal pipe cutter

Before Removing the Flange

  1. Turn off the water supply (either the main valve or just the toilet line).
  2. Disconnect the water supply hose from the toilet tank.
  3. Empty any remaining water in the toilet by flushing it.
  4. Lay old newspapers or old rags on the floor in a safe part of your bathroom (like the shower area or bathtub).
  5. Use a wrench to loosen the nuts that attach the toilet to the floor. Make sure to put the nuts in a safe place because you’ll need them to reattach the toilet later. Some stubborn bolts might have to be sawed off.
  6. Remove the toilet by slowly rocking and lifting it. Place it on top of the old newspapers or rags you prepared.
  7. Take off the remaining wax around the flange using a putty knife, then remove any screws that attach it to the floor. Again, keep the screws somewhere secure for later use.

Removing an Old Cast Iron Toilet Flange

  1. Use a pry bar to check if the flange is already loosened and can be lifted right off.
  2. If it’s still attached, you may need to break it off. Set a cold chisel on the outer edge of the flange, then firmly hit the chisel with a hammer. Be careful not to get too close to the inner edge of the flange to avoid damaging the waste pipe.
  3. Push the flange upward using a pry bar. If it is still not loose enough, move to another section of the flange and keep trying to pry it up until it comes free.

Removing an Old PVC Toilet Flange

  1. Get your internal pipe cutter and insert the small circular saw into the drill chuck. Set the drill in forward gear.
  2. Use the internal pipe cutter to separate the flange from the waste line by cutting at the point where they meet, which are 3 to 4 inches from the flange’s opening.
  3. When you have cut through the whole flange, lift it straight off the subfloor.

What to Remember

If you don’t have the proper tools or experience in using such tools, it would be best to ask help from someone who has experience or to get assistance from a professional rather than risk damaging your toilet’s fixtures and waste line.

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