View Full Version : Couple questions for bathroom remodel

05-04-2011, 06:08 AM
Hello! I am remodeling a bathroom in my NYC row house, which was built in 1910 (!) It still has the original bathroom in there, up until this weekend when I ripped everything out. I noticed a sink in the floor, and after removing asbestos tile that covered the original hex tile, saw a long crack in the hex tile/mud bed. Now my job just multiplied! I guess today I'll be ripping out the concrete/mud bed, and all the hex tile down to the joists.

I've done a TON of work in this house in the past 2 years, and this is one of the last remaining projects. My questions to you guys:

#1. The joists are 2x8 (really 2"x8", not 1.5") 16 O.C. What type of subfloor do I need? 3/4" plywood?

#2. My lead closet bend is in reasonably good condition, which is a good thing because there are tons of pipes getting in the way around the area where lead meets cast iron at the stack. I really dont think i'd be able to get to it to remove all the lead and use a donut/pvc back to the flange. Can I somehow undo the flare on the lead, and slide off the existing flange? Then after putting down the new subfloor, screw down a new flange and re-flare the lead pipe?

EDIT: ok, I really won't know what I have to do with #2 until I get a good look at the flange. I was assuming it was flared on, but it could be lead-welded on. I'll update with pics later, but probably going to try and finisht the rest of the demo first.

I've attached a few pictures of the existing mud bed, or what is left of it. I plan on replacing all the lead drains/vents with pvc also...

05-04-2011, 06:15 AM
Here are some more pictures, of the bathroom before I even bought the house 3 years ago, and of the pipes in the way of the lead bend in the basement. You can see 3-4 copper supply lines with valves all over, and a cast iron gas pipe.

05-04-2011, 06:16 AM
Just so you know what I'm dealing with :mad:

05-04-2011, 09:24 AM
I thought my bathroom remodel was a nightmare. I feel your pain. I grew up in NY City, so I know how stuff was built there in the old days. BUILT to LAST!I wish you good luck and success in getting things fixed up the way you want. My house is just stick built and the only concrete is in the basement floor.

05-04-2011, 09:39 AM
Yes sir! They really were built to last. It boggles my mind that this house, when constructed, didn't have electricity (evidence of gas chandaliers all over the house, and ignition wires). The heating has gone from steam radiator, to forced air, and now has forced water. Water supply went from Lead (believe it or not) to cast iron, and is now copper.

Best way, I think, is to really remove everything and start from scratch...

Only thing I'm worried about is how to address the lead bend/flange problem. I'd remove back to the CI/brass ferrule that I've read about on countless other threads here, the problem is there really is no space to work with. My option might be to have a plumber lead-weld on a new flange for me. Anyone know if there's a way to get a clean cut on the 4" lead bend, and attach a coupling to 4" pvc to the new flange?

One last thing: can someone post a picture of the brass ferrule thats packed in the lead at the Cast Iron/Lead Pipe joint??

05-04-2011, 11:42 AM
You can solder new deep brass flange to lead bend I have done it many time.
But took years to do it right.

05-04-2011, 07:01 PM
You not only have a lead bend, which I would NEVER reuse if I had the floor torn up, but also a lead tub drain, so you probably also have a lead sink drain.

05-04-2011, 09:17 PM
I'd get the lead out!

05-05-2011, 06:54 AM

Why wouldn't you reuse the lead bend? Because it could get damaged by all the concrete flying about when demo'ing the concrete bed?

I'd replace the bend if access weren't a problem. Any way to use a fernco or similar to connect lead to pvc somewhere between the flange and CI/lead joint, where there's more access? If not, maybe I'll have a plumber come in and handle this part. What kind of pricing am I looking at?

You're right about lead sink/tub drains, as well as all the traps. I'm ripping them all out and replacing with PVC.

I'm going to start demo'ing the mud bed today with a hammer drill w/ demolition bit, now I just need to figure out how to get rid of all the waste!

05-05-2011, 11:57 AM
Is it possible to do something like this, in the attached picture? I walked through HD during my lunch break and came up with this idea, I'd like some advice from the pros.

Essentially, gravity would assure all waste from the 3" pvc goes into the lead, and the fernco would keep everything rigid, and prevent sewer gas from escaping. It would also provide waterproofing in case there is somehow a backup between the flange and cast iron sanitee.

I really want to avoid removing all the lead/brass back to the cast iron- I don't have space and can't imagine tapping in a donut/pvc pipe in the confined space.

05-05-2011, 02:41 PM
There is not a good way to seal the lead to the pvc. Even though it is a drain line, it needs to be able to pass a pressure test, be it air or water.

If someone could solder a brass ferrule into the lead, then you would have a better chance of getting a fernco to seal, but I think most plumbers would choose to cut and replace back to the C.I., as then there would be fair assurance of a properly sealed system.

05-05-2011, 02:55 PM
WE have not seen a picture of the lead bend, but usually the tub and sink drains were connected to it.

05-05-2011, 04:00 PM
Really what it all boils down to is you can get the lead out now...


Later... Hmmm What Do I Open Up To Get To It?

05-06-2011, 05:29 AM
here's some pics of the lead bend. HJ, the lead drain for the tub/sink joins the cast iron just after the 4" lead from the toilet joins the cast iron. You can see it in the pictures if you look closely. It looks like it comes out at an angle almost 45 degrees to the horizontal.

I think my best bet is to just cut out the old flange very carefully, put down the plywood subfloor, and flare the new lead on the new flange. I know everyone keeps saying pull out the lead, pull out the lead, but if I successfully remove the mud bed and old flange without cracking the lead pipe, why create that much more work for myself??

05-09-2011, 06:36 AM
Ok guys,
I finally took up the mud bed- good thing I did, 2 of the joists are in really bad shape. Also, I can now see enough of the lead/cast iron joint, to remove all of the lead and replace with donut/pvc. A few questions:

#1. Any trick to prevent, or at least minimize the amount of sewer gas coming out while attacking the lead/oakum? I will keep a rag at the flange, but I imagine while pulling off the lead at the brass ferrule, I'd get some gas coming through there.

#2. the drain from the sink/bath enters the cast iron at a 45 degree angle upwards from horizontal. when I'm peeling away the lead/oakum, how can I stop anything from falling into the drain, and clogging it?

I plan on using one of these:


It might be helpful, it goes through lead like butter.

05-10-2011, 05:17 AM
I got the brass/lead/oakum out on the tub/sink drain last night. It took about 2 hours. Going to do the big boy tonight (closet bend). If the 1 1/2" lead drain took me 2 hours, I wonder how long the 4" pipe will take me??

05-10-2011, 05:38 AM
One other thing, usually when you had lead drains the sink had an "S" trap connection into the floor. Almost ANY cutter goes through lead like butter, because lead is soft, and that is one reason a Fernco connection may not work. The lead can compress rather than seal to the rubber

05-10-2011, 07:02 AM
The sink tap was actually a P trap w/ proper vent and everything. I still cut it out to replace with PVC.

I hear you about the fernco and lead being soft. My reasoning is that the pressure was applied evenly at all points around the lead, instead of specific points. Similar to being able to squeeze an egg very hard on the top and bottom without it cracking- b ecause the pressure is evenly distributed.

Either way, I'm removing all the lead, so that's a non-issue. I think the best way to get through the lead/oakum/brass is to fully break one section of the brass, as deep as it goes. Once thats broken, you can bend parts of the brass going all the way around, and take it out in pieces. Harder than it sounds, and it still takes a while, but when the brass pops out, then you can clean the lead/oakum properly with a screwdriver/hammer.

05-12-2011, 06:55 AM
Ok, finally got the brass ferrules out on the toilet and shower/sink drains. Problem is, I have XH cast iron. Inside Diameter in each hub is ~5 3/8" for the toilet, and ~3 1/8" for the sink/shower drain. Where can I get these donuts? The ones I bought from Home Depot are SV, and are too small by ~1/2" diameter each.

I'm going to check the plumbing supply today, but I was wondering if anyone has a listing of each and every donut manufactured by Fernco/others, so I can know specifically what model # to ask for.

05-12-2011, 02:48 PM
From the Fernco web site-

Donuts can be ordered by giving the size, material and type of connection you want to make. Donuts require specific information on the manufacturer of pipe. Our sales coordinators are trained to assist you.

Donuts can also be ordered by dimensions. Donuts seal by compression and have much less dimensional range than couplings. The bell, hub or socket dimensions must be given within 1/32" accuracy.

05-31-2011, 06:22 AM
Please see the attached picture for my next question... I had to frame a third wall for my alcove tub. I have the vikrell tub in and set on a mortar bed, drain connected, no leaks, and I built this 2x3 "floating wall" which is only attached to the floor and the wall on one side. This wall will contain supply lines and the shower body.

My question: How can I stiffen this wall, to allow the least amount of movement? I was thinking about some type of steel L's, or another type of fastener to fasten the sole plate to the plywood subfloor. I also believe when I hang sheetrock, this will give it more strength as well. Any other suggestions? The wall is 7 feet high, and will be tiled fully on one side, and half way on the other side.

FYI: I used this exact same setup on the top floor apartment (same layout and everything) and its been fine up til now. The wall is stiff as ever, but I hired someone to do that work, so I'm not too sure how he did it. He did use cement board though, not kerdi on drywall like I'm planning to use.