As a professional plumber, in Ottawa, Ontario, I';ve discovered that many people get tired of their old builder grade vinyl bathroom flooring and decide to upgrade to ceramic tile. Because new plywood flooring has to be installed on top of the existing floor to strengthen it for the new ceramic tiles, the floor could raise between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch. The existing toilet flange would then be below the height of the new ceramic tiled finished floor.
The rule of thumb is if you raise the floor you raise the toilet flange. The flange is usually 3/8 of an inch tall and should be set on top of the ceramic tiled surface to achieve the best possible seal with a wax ring.
When to Use Toilet Flange Extenders
When the toilet flange is below the height of the finished ceramic tiled surface, then you would have to rely on either flange extenders or using a set up of two wax rings, usually one with a plastic horn and one without. The condition of the floor also determines how long a job lasts. I have seen some jobs using toilet flange extenders or two wax seals last only three years and other jobs lasting up to ten years.
Common Toilet Flange Extender Problems
Also, I';ve noticed that flange extension kits don't work all that well. The manufacturers include a tube of caulking to seal the new plastic flange to the old flange. Be sure to check and test to determine that the caulk isn't water based or the water from flushing the toilet will break down the caulk if it did not properly cure before the first use of that toilet. You could try using a 100% silicone based caulk between the flanges but in my experience as a professional plumber, silicone doesn't stick well to the ABS plastic flanges.
I have also tried using the no wax seals and have had good success with them. Again make sure that the wood flooring under the toilet and toilet flange is in good shape and has not experienced any rot or damage.
Best way to Ensure a Leak Proof Toilet Flange Installation
The best way, in my experience, to ensure a leak proof installation is to cut out and remove a section of the wood flooring under the toilet, cut the old toilet flange out and set the new flange on top of the new finished ceramic tile floor, the same job you would expect if you had the house built.
I would recommend that you call a licensed plumbing professional (if you';re looking for a plumber in Ottawa, you can contact me here) for this work because if the job isn't done properly at the start you could find yourself removing a half dozen floor tiles later to repair the job should it leak.
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