Difficult Offset Toilet Drain Repair

When we decided to insulate the knee wall on the east side of the remodel the toilet drain ended up too close to the wall. Unfortunately the type of offset fitting I bought was a ”bowl” type instead of an angled drain.

Bowl type offset with plastic flange
Bowl type offset with plastic flange
Slant type offset with stainless steel flange
Slant type offset with stainless steel flange

The problems with this offset were the plastic flange that first cracked and eventually broke off and the huge oval opening that I tried to cover with a new flange.

Bowl type elongated opening.
Bowl type elongated opening.
Another plastic flange
Another plastic flange

I had several plastic flanges for some reason and a bigger brass flange that I screwed to the original plastic flange during a previous repair. That one was too large and I couldn’t drill holes in the porcelain tile with my masonry bit. Even after adding mortar at the floor level the gap was still too large to screw down the flange. I did not know how to seal the flange to the pipe below either. The next step had to be removing the old flange fitting.

Fill in with mud bed mortar
Fill in with mud bed mortar
Old bowl type released more easily than expected
Old bowl type released more easily than expected

I cut the edge of the flange off completely with the multtool. Then I only had to cut out two sections and the fitting popped out. I cut the sections with both the multitool and the reciprocating saw with fine toothed blades. Then I used a hammer and chisel to split them off the inside pipe.

Once the fitting came out I vacuumed out the debris and prepared for the new fitting. I scrubbed the inside of the pipe with a gray abrasive 3m pad and sanded with wet/dry sand paper. When I placed the new fitting, the gap was still too large to screw into for the new stainless steel ring so I mixed up more mortar.

Not enough to provide underpinning for flange
Not enough surface to provide underpinning for flange
Mixing more mortar
Mixing more mortar

I found that a jar from a medicine I take fit perfectly in the drain hole. I filled in the gap but ran out of mortar before the top level and had to mix more.
It’s tricky to mix just enough mortar. I could have had another scoop to level the top but there is enough here to hold screws.

Not quite full
Not quite full
Gap filled
Gap filled

The trick was to keep the jar loose enough that it will pull out when the mortar is semi-dry. I did this by rotating the jar a little. Eventually I just pulled it out though I had to whack it with a hammer to loosen it from the damp mortar. It was a good decision to remove it because there was not enough space for the slant of the fixture and I had to carve away the front of the filled mortar. It took several fittings to get a close fit and then I leveled the flange and screwed it down. Notice the gold rag sealing out sewer smells while I worked.

Using shims to level
Using shims to level
Nicely leveled
Nicely leveled

I decided not to use a wax seal. They require an accurate placement of the toilet. When the toilet is moved around to contact the bolts the wax squishes unevenly. I ordered a Sani seal foam rubber seal instead. This is the gasket I used on all the toilets but after they are crushed into place over time they also cannot be reused. The last time I fixed this toilet I could not find one so had to use wax. They make such a mess and it was skewed and probably leaking when I removed it.

Sani seal toilet gasket
Sani seal toilet gasket

I had to use shims under the flange because when I glued the fitting it stopped before the flange hit the floor. I must not have carved out enough mortar. It was after 5 when the ring was shimmed and ready for the toilet. The flange was still within a half inch of the floor so I thought the toilet would still sit on the floor.

Even without water in it the toilet is heavy. I half dragged it over to the flange and lifted it on the bolts which were in the right place. I had used a set off washers and nuts to keep them secure while I mounted the toilet.

Unfortunately there was no obvious rag plugging the pipe at this point. I may have pushed it further down the pipe when I vacuumed. The toilet sat higher than I wanted but the floor is really out of level so I leveled the toilet with more shims.

Leveling front to back
Leveling front to back
Level side to side
Level side to side

I reconnected the water and flushed and thought, ”Oh no! Did I leave the rag in the pipe?” I looked around and the rag was not in the bathroom.

I notice it’s not a good idea to keep working after 5 when I’m physically and mentally tired. That’s when I cut my thumb on the table saw. It was after 5 with one more task before I wanted to quit. The thumb is healed except for the loss of feeling at the tip. It has a hard area under the scar that should go away in a few months.

Flange ready for toilet
Flange ready for toilet

I removed the toilet and tried to reach for the rag. Then I unfolded a wire hanger to reach further with no luck. I next tried attaching a fishing pole with a triple hook to hopefully snag the rag. No luck. Then I tried the snake and then the snake with the fishing pole. Still no luck. Should I call the sewer guys back?

Instead I ordered a 50 ft. endoscope. The ones that use wifi to display on the phone are not too expensive. I chose overnight shipping. So the next day I looked down the pipe. I had to tie the camera to the snake to push it far enough into the pipe. It still got hung up at the Y that joins the main pipe. I stopped working on the pipe to take the RV in for an oil change and the air conditioner repair but I realized that I used the same pipe when I took a shower. And Dave had been using main pipe without problems when he used the back bathroom. So if the rag was in there maybe it made its way to the septic tank!

After another day of getting ready for an RV trip I finally got back to the toilet install. I took out the tapcon screws and re-shimmed the flange to get it more even instead of level. Then I dragged the toilet back and lifted it over the bolts with the good as new rubber seal in place and definitely no other rag in the pipe.

After careful shimming to level again front to back and side to side the bolts were tightened. Now there is a reset toilet that is not rocking and leaking sewer gas into the house. And it appears to flush just fine. I still have to caulk it but I ran out of time. The caulk will wait until we get back from our trip.

Toilet reset
Toilet reset
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