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What Is a Toilet Flange?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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A toilet flange is a plumbing connection that allows the toilet bowl to be attached to the sewer pipe. Commonly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, the toilet flange is equipped with two brass bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. The toilet flange uses a wax ring as a type of gasket to seal the toilet and make certain there are no leaks once it is properly installed. If there is a problem with the alignment of the toilet and the flange, a variety of offset-type flanges are available to successfully make the connection.

The device makes indoor toilets possible. The flange is designed to drop through the bathroom floor and be glued into the PVC drain pipe, working as a type of funnel. The toilet flange directs the contents of the toilet into the sewer pipe and away from the building. A flange is designed with several holes around the perimeter of the flange. These holes allow screws to be driven through the holes and into the flooring to secure the flange to the floor. Two large brass bolts rise up from the flange and are positioned into the two holes at the base of the toilet to seal it to the floor and the flange.

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Before placing the toilet onto the toilet flange, a gasket must be positioned between the two components to seal the unit against water leaks. The gasket used for this purpose is a large ring made of soft wax. Called a wax ring, this gasket is smashed between the toilet bottom and the top of the flange, providing an effective seal that can last for years. As the toilet begins to make contact with the wax ring, it is wiggled slightly and pushed down to make a good seal between the two parts.

When the installer is satisfied that a proper seal has been accomplished, the nuts will be started on the brass bolts and tightened in an even manner. The bolts are made of brass to combat the effects of the moist environment at the bottom of the toilet, thereby inhibiting rust and corrosion. A steel bolt, if used in this capacity, might rust away and allow the toilet to tip and leak when sat upon. In the event of a bathroom remodel or floor change, an extended toilet flange is available that will raise the flange a short distance, allowing the toilet to reach the sewer from its newly raised position.

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