So I'm in the middle of a bathroom remodel and I was having problem removing some damaged flooring around the toilet flange and ended up taking a reciprocating saw to the lip of the flange to make it easier. I thought i would just replace the whole thing so it wouldn't be a big deal. Turns out under the flooring is a series of elbows butted together so there is nowhere I can cut and replace an elbow. Is there anyway to salvage this toilet flange so I don't have to remove and redo everything pictured (the other side of the Y leads to another toilet in an adjacent bathroom)? It's a 3in drain pipe. I'm wondering if it would be possible to set a 4in flange right on top (after cleaning up the rim) or if there is some other product that will do essentially the same thing.

-edit- having problems uploading pictures from my phone. The top of the flange is basically gone. It is plastic.

-edit2- added pics finally

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5 Answers 5


I may be seeing this wrong, and correct me if I am, but I believe the last elbow to the flange is a street elbow, and the flange fit OVER the small end of the street elbow. The fix may be a lot simpler and cheaper than you think. There are toilet flanges that glue into the interior diameter of the waste pipe. Since the last elbow is a street elbow, the inside diameter of it should be the same as the inside diameter of the straight run Sch40 pipe the flange I refer to fits in. Saw off the "bell" end that is left over of the old flange. That will get it down to the end of the street elbow it was glued over and fit the new flange in.The length of the stub may be a concern. Check this out....

  • You are right that it is a street flange. However, it is only a 3in pipe. I was under the impression that closet flanges are only available for 4in pipes. The link you posted does say 3in so I'll have to do some checking. My local big box hardware store only carries regular 3in, regular 4in, and 4in closet flanges
    – kinar
    Jan 4, 2015 at 7:54
  • Big box won't carry those. A plumbing supply house will need to be found.
    – Jack
    Jan 5, 2015 at 4:47
  • This ended up being the solution I went with. trimmed the jagged edges of the old flange flat with the top of the street elbow underneath it. 3in closet flange fits in there perfectly.
    – kinar
    Mar 28, 2015 at 18:46

Your pictures are showing that it will be necessary to remove the existing drain lines up to the place where there is free pipe to cut into thus allow gluing in a new coupling. It will unlikely for there to be a decent way to fix this by any other means. Any type of cobbled together "fix" is always going to be a potential weak spot in the system ripe for failure.

It is possible to buy special reamers that can be used to remove pipe inside of a coupling joint so that a new pipe or fitting can be glued into there. However I am not sure such tools are available for your size of drain line. These tools also require good "straight in" access to be able to be used. It might be an option for you to investigate but will likely be more expensive than just replacing some of the existing drain lines.

For you the expression "think before you cut" should have new meaning.

Edit -- I did a bit of looking and did find that there are reamers available that will work for 3" size plastic pipe. Here are some pictures of what they look like:

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With one of these and a suitably sized right angle drive electric drill you may be able to fix your problem by reaming the nearest accessible coupling. Use does require that you be able to securely clamp the fitting being drilled into place. Also make sure that you would have a really good hold on the drill while reaming.

Rather than trying to point you to a specific web site I would suggest that you do the Google search for "PVC Pipe Reamer".

  • Heh. Those guys aren't cheap :). Replacing the whole thing is probably the right answer so I'll up vote this for now until proven otherwise. Unfortunately replacing the Y will require tearing out the ceiling below so I'll be checking other options until I actually tackle this project (probably within the next week or so)
    – kinar
    Jan 4, 2015 at 6:03

i would definitely try to just put a 3" inside closet flange on the existing pipe. it should be readily available


but if you cant find one...

cut the joint at the 45 deg elbow where it meets the tee wye, but not at the actual joint. cut through the elbow itself (imagine you are cutting at the end of the nipple that is joining the elbow and the tee wye together. then, using an oscillating tool, cut laterally through the remainder of the elbows remaining outside wall. if you do it carefully, you can usually pry off the remainder of the elbow, leaving you with an ugly, but serviceable nipple from the original joint. just sand down the nipple until its smooth and use a thickened cement to glue in a new elbow an whatever else you need.


Plumber's Trick...You are trying to separate the old flange hub from the elbow at the old glue joint.

Make cuts vertically to the existing flange hub. Do this where you can get your reciprocating saw blade to it. Be careful not to cut too deep as to cut the 3" street elbow that is shown in the picture. Once you have three or four cuts through the existing flange hub vertically, carefully take a long flat screwdriver blade and from the inside of the flange between the elbow and the flange split the old flange pieces off the elbow.


you can cut the remains of the flang off then sand down the pipe then glue a new flange on

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