How to re-set commode in bathroom where toilet flange is too high?

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JimTrail

JimTrail
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Question. How can I re-install a commode where the iron flange is about 3/4" to 1" too high?

I have got a condominium under contract for purchase. The commode was tilted over to the right. I thought it had rotten wood underneath.

The seller and myself went around and around over the bathroom floor issue. The contract says that the seller is to repair the bathroom floor at no cost to the buyer - so I am covered on the issue. I just about cancelled or walked away from the contract.

Finally, the seller removed the commode and part of the finish floor and sub-floor. The wood looks like it's in good shape. I think the floor joists are 2" x 10"s. One of the floor joists looks like it is oak wood. I am not sure but I think both floor joists that are visible in the pictures look like they may be oak wood.

Anyway, from what I can see from the bathroom floor the condo is built like a Sherman tank. If you look at the second picture on the right there is what looks like a 5/8" or 3/4" insulation board [so the condo below can't hear you walk on the floor]. Then there's a 5/8" or 3/4" plywood sub-floor. Then there's two layers of pressboard on top of that.

This development is called Cherokee at Westcliff. Here is the listing on Zillow:
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/5709-Lyons-View-Pike-APT-4306-Knoxville-TN-37919/41678743_zpid/

The flange for the commode is cast iron or steel. It's too high. The commode had a bead of caulk about 3/4" high around it before it was removed [see picture below].

A repair contractor that does a lot of work in this development says that the commode flanges in all of the condo units in this development are too high. They all have an extra layer of particle board [two layers of particle board instead of one] in order to compensate for the height of the iron flange.

What I want to do is make sure that I re-install the commode properly so that it does not leak or tilt over to one side.

I would appreciate any suggestions.

This condo development was built in the year 1969. The unit I have got under contract is the top unit in the picture below.

Thanks..
 

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FlyingRon

Board of Directors, Webmaster
Ron
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Corporate Member
3/4" above the finished floor is too high as you've realized. If raising the floor isn't an option, the only answer is to cut that old flange off and install a new one at the proper height .
 

JimTrail

JimTrail
Senior User
3/4" above the finished floor is too high as you've realized. If raising the floor isn't an option, the only answer is to cut that old flange off and install a new one at the proper height .
I'm trying to get around having to do that.

I am wondering if shims would work? For instance, place wooden or plastic shims every 2" to 4" around under the commode then caulk?

Also, how can I know that the wax ring under the commode is making a good seal?
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
I think I would make a support for the commode out of plywood (like a floor platform) to raise the commode to the correct height for the flange. I'd make it a split piece so that I could fit it tight to the flange and cut it to the shape of the commode base. Then either make some custom molding or caulk from the existing floor to cover the exposed plywood edge.

Another possibility is to just make a split square piece a few inches larger that the flange (but fitted to the flange) and then make a solid wood base with a square hole to fit over the plywood. Then you could make the outer edge slightly larger than the comode base and route whatever profile you wanted.
 

FlyingRon

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Ron
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Yeah, building a platform roughly the shape of the toilet would work. Why I'm not sure I'd use plywood, a piece of plastic countertop would work. It can be cut with woodworking tools and caulked. If it makes the flange too low, it's easy to add spacer rings (the home centers sell them) and longer bolts or some people just use two wax rings.
 

JimTrail

JimTrail
Senior User
Gentlemen;

Thank you for the responses. I appreciate the help.

If I don't put a platform underneath the commode, and then try to re-install the commode with the wax ring, the bottom of the commode won't touch the floor I don't think.

It looks like the previous installer did that. That's why there is such a thick bead of caulk.

What I need to do is put the commode on the flange without the wax ring. Then measure and see the difference between the floor and the bottom of the commode.

Then I can get an idea of how thick the platform needs to be.

I can go to Home Depot or Lowes and get a piece of plywood that is the right thickness. I might just want to get something like a 3/4" x 10" board for the platform. I might use countertop material. If the countertop is thin I could stack two or more to the right height.

Question. Does the platform need to be just a little bit thinner, like 1/8", so that the wax ring will mash between the flange and commode and make a good seal?
 

Phil S

Board of Directors, President
Phil Soper
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You could install a toilet base plate. I seem to remember them being about 1/4 " thick and they are stackable. Should cost about $10 each and available from most plumbing supply houses
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
+1 on shims, if not available then build up floor under bowl. I cant think of another way short of re plumbing. The answer as how much? Normally the flange is set on top of the floor,therefore buildup to the bottom of the flange. At least you now can make sure the flange is both LEVEL and secure.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Try to find a product called Azek. It is basically a foam PVC sheet material that can be cut, painted. and shaped like wood. Use it to make a base for the toilet. You won't need to worry about it rotting or absorbing odors from overflows, etc. As for the tilt, if you get the proper height on the riser you make, the flange need not be level, and the wax ring will adjust to the imperfection. The floor was probably designed for ceramic tile and never used. Worse case scenario, you may have a cast iron toilet flange on cast iron pipe. In that case, the toilet flange can be removed and reset with new lead and oakum joint after being cut off. A grinder and a sledge hammer will get the short piece off. It's sort of tricky, though, because a small cutoff like that sometimes wants to split on down the length of the pipe. Good Luck.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
Seeing as how the floor is already out, why not cut off cast iron closet bend? You use a "chain breaker to do this. Use a no hub band to connect a PVC bend and flange, set to the right height. If the vertical leg is tall enough, you can use an internal cutter to just take CI flange off, and replace it with PVC flange connected to a short stub of PVC pipe, using a no hub band. The flange anchors the water closet, not the pipe
 

JimTrail

JimTrail
Senior User
Seeing as how the floor is already out, why not cut off cast iron closet bend? You use a "chain breaker to do this. Use a no hub band to connect a PVC bend and flange, set to the right height. If the vertical leg is tall enough, you can use an internal cutter to just take CI flange off, and replace it with PVC flange connected to a short stub of PVC pipe, using a no hub band. The flange anchors the water closet, not the pipe
That is what I'm starting to think.

FlyingRon suggested that earlier. I didn't think that was the best option at the first but the more I think about it I'm starting to think that is the best option.

I have got to get a plumber to install a new shutoff valve anyway. The shutoff valve was hashed over pretty good in this thread:
http://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/showthread.php?t=52518

While he's there I might as well ask him to lower the flange.
 

Glennbear

Moderator
Glenn
I ended up with a similar problem in a bathroom remodel years ago after the removal of two layers of ceramic tile and solved it along the lines of what Bruce suggested sawzall + Fernco fitting + PVC pipe + new flange = proper fitting toilet :wsmile:
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I'll be blunt. Toilets shouldn't tilt, wobble, or leak. You'll spend worthwhile $ to have it functioning correctly without leaks and headaches.
 

FredP

Fred
Corporate Member
I'll be blunt. Toilets shouldn't tilt, wobble, or leak. You'll spend worthwhile $ to have it functioning correctly without leaks and headaches.
yep! what he said. especially if it's an upstairs commode. crap truly does run down hill.............:rotflm:
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
let me add one more note, IF YOU fix it and it doesnt workout, it leaks etc YOU are responsible for ALL damage done to ALL the condos affected. Using the condos plumber it is ALL his problem
 

JimTrail

JimTrail
Senior User
I figured out why the commode flange is too high. The floor has sank.

I went down into the crawl space beneath the 1st level condo. Someone has put heavy wooden posts and beams underneath to shore it up. It looks like they may have jacked it up under the end. Where the commode is they may have not jacked up the floor.

I think they just mostly shored up the floor to keep it from sinking any further.

The condo unit beside this one has had the same thing done. Except underneath the adjacent condo they have put steel floor jacks instead of wood posts. They may have jack up the floor under theirs.

On Tuesday a plumber is going to bust up and remove the bath tub (it's cast iron). If there is not any rotten wood I am going to have to put strips on top of the floor joists and bring the floor back up level. The flange may not have to be cut whenever I do that.

The plumber has a snap tool if it has to be cut.
 

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Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
It seems like a major structural issue that the seller and the condo people need to fix properly "before" you go through with the purchase. Fixing the plumbing seems to be the least of the problem. If it isn't fixed correctly now and you go through with the purchase, then you will be paying for repairs later. Stop worrying about how to fix the toilet and demand that they get the structural issue corrected, then fix the toilet and the bathroom. If they won't do it, then find another condo to buy.

Charley
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
I totally agree. ALL I repeat ALL problems need to be fixed by the SELLER before you close. If they do not want to then either take 10 grand off the price or RUN do not walk away form this mess. Another note: ALL repairs MUST be code approved and inspected. Accept nothing less.
 

JimTrail

JimTrail
Senior User
Thanks for responding to my post. Too late. I have already closed on the unit. The seller gave concessions for the bathroom floor.

I think the issue has already been resolved.

The plumber, who is recommended by the condo Homeowners Association, said that the owner below spent $40,000 in structural repairs.

The plumber told me that the the drain downspout at the exterior wall caused wood rot at the first level unit. The owner at the first level unit below mine had to jack up the entire wall and install new wood [I can see in my unit where the exterior wall looks like it has been jacked up about an inch].

The plumber told me the owner below was a general contractor. He bought the unit for his daughters.

The floor looks like it is pretty well stabilized. I don't expect it to cause any more problems.
 

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