after I pulled toilet enter image description here enter image description here The toilet in my kids bathroom started wobbling so I pulled it off to put a new wax ring on and retighten the floor bolts. Once I pulled the toilet I noticed that the pipe and the inner portion of the flange appeared to be pretty rusty and once I started scraping the old wax ring off the flange it basically started to disintegrate.

Obviously it’s rust but is that the flange and the pipe that are rusting away or could it be from years of untreated hard water? When we moved into this house 4 years ago I had to install a water softener because the water had stained all the tubs, sinks and toilets and smelled like rotten eggs. So I’m assuming that meant a high iron content in the water. It doesn’t appear that the previous owners had ever installed a water softener and the house is 35 years old so could that be 30 years of iron build up and staining that is coating the flange and pipe or is that a dumb question and obviously it’s the flange and pipe rusting out?

In any case, the bolt slots in the flange (not sure if they have a specific name) are still solid/un-rusted and the bolts fit in the track so is the flange ok to use once I scrape out the remaining wax and other crud or should I rip the flange out and replace it?


  • 4
    smelled like rotten eggs != high iron content in the water - Rotten eggs is the classic sulfur smell. Jul 30, 2021 at 4:45

2 Answers 2


If the bolts that fit into the slotted tracks hold well, and the flange is still secure to the floor, there is no need to replace the flange. Everything looked proper in the picture, nothing unusual there to see.

Set the toilet in its place with no bolts or wax ring. The tile floor may be the reason it rocks. Find an appropriate shim or shims to set in place to level and stop the rocking if the tile is the reason. Take note of these places where the shims are and how deep they set.

Whenever I set a toilet, I place 3 shims on the floor and set the toilet on those shims after I place the bolts and wax ring. Set these shims where the ceramic is the strongest. This way I can ease the toilet down on the wax ring and leave the shims in place that were used to cure the rocking and make it level. As a mention, the toilet does not need to be perfectly level, if the toilet needs a shim to keep it from rocking, add a shim or shims to help the toilet be more level.

  • The tile floor is definitely the reason for the rocking. Well that and my 2 year old son being potty trained. I installed the floor and there is 1/8” or so difference in height between a couple of the tiles around the flange. Live and learn. I got some shims today so I’ll try the dry fit method and hope it’s as easy as it sounds. Glad I don’t have to rip the flange and waste tube out! Jul 30, 2021 at 18:07
  • Should I keep scraping the rust off the flange or leave it alone and just maybe take the shop vac to whatever loose stuff there is now. Or will whatever’s there not interfere with a good seal of the wax ring? Jul 30, 2021 at 18:08
  • As long as the flange is clean, so to speak. It can have old wax on it as long as it is wax only so the new wax ring can join it. I would not concern myself with getting the rust out, many wax rings with the plastic funnel never go down in the pipe that far. If you cleaned into the flange opening a bit, might help, but not the major rust on the next level down.
    – Jack
    Jul 31, 2021 at 1:08

Sulfur smell in water can be caused by iron bacteria. The bacteria can be naturally occurring or caused by well contamination. Single event or periodic chlorination of the well can minimize the bacteria. The presence of iron bacteria is also accompanied by the formation of black slime in some parts of the plumbing or fixtures, for example, the toilet tank.

Jack, what material are your shims that will be left there permanently? From your "setting" description, you put down 3 temporary shims and maybe an anti-rocking shim, if necessary. Then pull out the 3 temp shims when your comfortable with alignment, etc. And it's likely you do this temp shimming to maximize the wax ring crush when everything is ready. Is that the case?

  • The water softener I installed took care of the sulfur smell and rust stains on the white clothes although the stains on one of the tubs, the toilet bowls and our master bath shower stall seem pretty permanent. I’ve just been filling the softener with iron reducing salt (or something like that-green bag at Lowe’s) and that’s taken care of all the odor, taste and staining. From what I remember when researching that issue is that the iron bacteria are harmless to people so I never chlorinated the well, is that something I should consider? Jul 30, 2021 at 17:57
  • Yes, iron bacteria are harmless to people. If your current water conditioning methods are yielding the results you want then I would not chlorinate the well. Most drinking water certified labs can analyze your raw water for iron bacteria. Regarding the permanent rust stains - you can try to use Iron Out or CLR (or both at different times) but long absorbed stains will likely never come out (I've tried...).
    – coderjohn
    Jul 30, 2021 at 18:11

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