Toilet flange question

Hi,
We are in the middle of changing the toilet, and found not only wax around the flange, but a soft metallic-like material - almost like solder - that is layered on top of the flange, and follows the contours of the flange into the drain for an inch or two. The flange is obviously a separate object. We are removing the extra material, but wonder what it is. The house is a 50's vintage ranch, but none of the books or web sites we have looked at say anything about this extra layer.
Thanks,
Bruce Kimball from Louisville
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What you are seeing is actually a component of solder. It's lead. In the '50s plumbers used lead to seal the flange to the pipe. They melted the lead in a pot, and then poured it around and into the joint, which was also packed with jute. (Lotta plumbers got lead poisoning working with it!) The best way to handle it is to leave it there and just replace the wax ring under the bowl. It's stronger than the plastic flanges they use now! Don't tighten the bolts too tight and break the flange, or you will have to replace it.
Nowadays it can be difficult to find a plumber who knows how to "wipe lead".

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beekay wrote:

It's also possible that the flange is soldered to a "lead bend". If you have access below (basement), have a look. It was extremely common in the 50's and before to use a preformed length of 4" lead pipe that had a 90 deg bend upward thru the floor. The lead was then bent over the inside of the flange and soldered to the brass.
If the thing is still in good condition, LEAVE it alone!
Jim
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Thanks. We did decide to leave it after fussing with it for a while. Hopefully, it isn't damaged. None of the books or web sites we visited mentioned this, yet it doesn't sound like it's all that unusual.
Search terms: toilet, flange, lead, solder, wax.
Bruce Kimball from Louisville

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If the wax seal has worked well in the past I guess you should stick with that method! But will mention that we used a reusable spongy a rubber toilet seal ring. About three to four dollars. This was very useful with a only single toilet in the house because it was necessary to remove and replace the toilet several times while rebuilding the bathroom. We keep a spare wax seal in the vanity under the sink just in case but have never needed it.
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It's probably the lead version of the plastic cone that lines up hte toilet with the soil pipe.
Good idea to remove it. Dont tell the EPA, or they will make you tear down the entire house and send it redbag waste. You'll be wearing the same underwear for six weeks.
--

Christopher A. Young
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