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What Is a Drain Flange?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A drain flange sits within a drain to provide attachments for plumbing fittings. The edge of the flange should be visible as a lip around the edge of the drain, and a short length of pipe drops out to connect with the plumbing. Flanges are an important part of drain installations and they need to be installed properly to reduce the risk of leaks and other problems. Replacements are typically readily available from hardware stores and usually come in standard sizes to make it easy to swap out worn fittings.

Depending on the design, the drain flange may pop or screw into the drain. At the time of installation, a plumber can apply a thin layer of plumber’s putty around the edge of the drain before pushing the flange in place. The putty ensures a tight connection to prevent leaks and seat the flange firmly so it won’t rock or slide. Traps and plugs may be fitted to the flange to keep debris out of the drain and allow the user to plug the drain for activities like taking a bath or doing dishes.

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It is sometimes necessary to remove a drain flange to replace it or an attached component. The removal technique can depend on how it is installed. A bucket should be placed under the plumbing to catch any drips or leaks and allow people to safely unscrew the fittings under the drain. Once these fittings are loose, it should be possible to see if the flange needs to be unscrewed or if it can be gently tapped from below to force it to pop up, allowing it to be removed. Before replacing the flange, it is important to clean around the drain and reapply plumber’s putty to make a tight seal and avoid leaks.

Standard sizes are available to mate with different kinds of plumbing fixtures. They should work interchangeably between manufacturers. Buyers may want to consider the color and finish when they purchase replacement flanges to make sure they will match.

These components are usually made from metal and may have a shiny finish, especially at the visible part of the drain flange. This may require gentle maintenance to prevent scratches and damages. Harsh cleaners should not be used directly on the finish or it may strip. If corrosive materials are regularly handled in the drain, it is also advisable to regularly inspect the plumbing for signs of problems, and to replace components like the drain flange before they start to leak.

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