View Full Version : Clearing a fused Cast Iron Clean Out

06-20-2011, 09:20 PM
I've been working at this SOB for several days. I've been taking my time as this is new to me. I've already curled out the lead seal, and scraped/vacuumed out all the old oakum to a depth of 2"+ (bottom of the bell):

I've attempted to crack the clean out plug loose with my pipe wrench but with no success. I've used PB Blaster penetrating lubricant in hopes of working loose any cast iron corrosion.

Tapping with my mallet has not loosened it.

I'm a bit concerned about being too aggresive as the pipes are likely 60+ years old. I don't want to fracture it as it disappears right into the foundation; that's some pain I don't want to get involved with.

Ideally, I'd like to extract the clean out plug, and cover it with a Fernco fitting and ABS plug.

While extracting the lead and oakum, I've hit a piece of hard metal between the y-fitting bell, and clean-out plug fitting; is it possible it was spot/arc welded? It's damn-hard metal I've broken a few bits on; it doesn't look like or behave like oxidation. I think this metal might be the fuse that's restricting my extraction (difficult to photograph due to it's depth):

Again, I'm really timid about breaking this fitting.

I have no idea what the blocking in-wall looks like (if any) and have been considering strapping the stack to load-bearing joists in the sub-floor. I really don't want to demo the whole stack from roof to foundation; ack!

I would appreciate advice on my next course of action. Do I:

1. Strap the stack to load-bearing joists and plan on snap-cutting the clean-out Y out? Replace with a Fernco Y?

2. Try to sawzall the clean-out fitting or plug?

3. Do I need to enlist a plumbing professional?

The absolute last thing I want is to crack open the foundation floor...


06-20-2011, 09:52 PM
I think you just need to whack on that CO fitting harder. Use a hand sledge. Wrap
the bell with rags if your aim is not so good. The worst that could happen is you
break a chunk off the bell.

06-21-2011, 07:04 AM
IT was NOT welded, cemented, or anything else. IF you have all the lead out, then the only thing holding it is the oakum and rust. It should "wiggle" so you can pull it out. There should be no reason to resort to sledge hammers, SawZalls, or anything like them. In fact, I would have just removed the plug and NOT done anything about the lead. Now, you have to pour a joint on an angle, and YOU do not have the tools to do that, so maybe you should just cut your losses and call a plumber before you create a major project for yourself, (which it looks like you intend to do). By "Fernco Y" I hope you do not mean one of those rubber ones.

06-21-2011, 02:11 PM
Hi Mechanoid...

That pile of lead/oakum on the floor looks like you haven't really removed enough of the oakum here. I also suspect that "hard metal" fragment is just some super hard lead, so here's what I recommend.

I would continue to drill out metal except I would recommend using a small drill bit and make a few holes with the small bit...then use the larger drill bit to finish removing the rest of the lead. Here, I suspect you are slipping off the lead and just not getting a bite into it. Then, drill out the rest of the oakum to just about the depth of the hub...work all around and then, when you are sure everything is out, take your mallet and tap the fitting...should come loose, OK? If that doesn't work then tap the cleanout with a bigger hammer....tap up and down and then side to side...should eventually begin to loosen.

Hope that helps!

06-21-2011, 10:42 PM
Hi folks,

First of all, thanks to 'kreemoweet', 'hj' and 'plumber2011'. This (intermediary) project has had successful resolution.

@hj: I removed the fitting so as to tie a temporary toilet into the basement clean-out while I remodel the bathroom upstairs. Goal #1, access the clean-out – goal #2, temp toilet. No need to pour a new joint *wipes forehead*. Yes, by "Fernco Y", I did mean a flexible rubber fitting; happily, it's irrelevant now.

@plumber2011 & kreemoweet: ultimately, I was being too timid with my rubber mallet. A few light strikes with my hammer on flat-head driver (as chisel), on and about the cap, cracked it loose. A simple matter, apply more pressure. ;)

At least in this case, patience and persistence won the day. Huzzah!

Arrow in this first photo points at the high corrosion target of my flat-head driver:


06-21-2011, 11:00 PM
Now you can get a pvc spigot and caulk it in with oakum and lead wool or a bondo like material,then female adapter and plug,there are also expansion plug but not to fit a CI hub.Is this a clean out only?
Sorry did not read post close enough,just a comment on the fernco you WILL NOT find one to fit that hub on the out side of it,but you may be able to find a what we call a donut.then you may be able to temp it in.

06-22-2011, 12:11 AM
My initial plan was to put a 4" --> 3" reducing Fernco coupling around the outside; I tested before cap extraction - it did fit.

Thank you, cwhyu2, I appreciate your advice; yes, this will be primarily a clean-out (after I use the access for a temp toilet).

I was advised to go the route you suggest – that of a 3" Fernco donut coupled with a street clean-out fitting.

06-22-2011, 07:52 AM
Pity you came here after the fact....
I would have just removed the cleanout plug instead of turning it into a bigger job...
Easily done in less than 5 minutes when you know what to do...

06-22-2011, 07:24 PM
some people just like to turn simple tasks into projects. Gives them something to do in their spare time. It should have taken about the same amount of time to remove the plug, OR remove the cleanout, i.e., about 15 minutes.

06-29-2011, 12:17 AM
The comments about the clean-out are just a "heads-up" for others that are following the thread. You're always better off working on unthreading the cleanout. They're not mean comments, just letting others know that it's best to unthread it rather then disassemble it.
Sometimes it takes a big pipe wrench.