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Thread: Clay Soil Pipe for an upstairs toilet

  1. #1

    Default Clay Soil Pipe for an upstairs toilet

    Welcome me. New to the forums. I am a homeowner and I have more than average experience with plumbing. I am not a pro, but I love to cut copper and use fire. heh.

    I have a question. Can someone give me some advice on cutting a soil pipe I dug up in my basement yesterday? I found an area in my basement where there is a floor drain. It is a 4" pipe with trap and it drains and holds water perfectly. I thought it was going to be cast iron, but after busting up all the concrete near it and digging up the soil I found it is clay pipe. Probably 4".

    What we are trying to do is install a toilet on the first floor directly above this drain pipe in the floor which used to be a sink drain at one point back in the 50's. Like I said, its completely operable, but I have never cut clay pipe before. I can rent a pipe chain cutter from a local hardware store, but I am afraid to damage any of the nearby joints from any pressure or torque. Has anyone done this before? When the pipe is cut, I plan on putting a no-hub to PVC/ABS drain pipe and 90deg up out of the floor. Then I will run the necessary pipe up to the closet flange. Below is an image of the pipe I have to cut.

    Here is the beginning of the dig. It was an old shower.


    This is the hole. I want to cut right after the hub from the trap and put a no-hub connector on to ABS drain.

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    chain cutter will not work think masonary

    I would consider total drain replacement.
    Last edited by construct30; 12-04-2007 at 01:55 PM.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A diamond wheel on a grinder would cut through, but not sure they make a fitting to connect from plastic to clay pipe. For cast iron, they make a donut that fits inside the hub, so you wouldn't need to cut, but don't know if an equivalent is made for clay.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4
    Geologist sjsmithjr's Avatar
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    I'm no pro, but I'd cut it with a carbide blade, a long one, in a sawzall (learned that here via Terry). Frenco makes clay to PVC couplings but I don't know what sizes are available. www.fernco.com

    -Sam

  5. #5
    Plumbing Contractor westcoastplumber's Avatar
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    I use diamond blades on grinders to cut my clay pipe.

    I am very suprised you have clay under your slab, here in california, UPC prohibites clay from entering the building, because it leaches out.

    We are required to use cast iron or ABS, copper DWV, dependant on the situation.

    You will use a 3" or 4" clay x plastic MR band to make the connections, you will find these at plumbing supply houses.

    You will cut a square hole in the top of the clay to fit the grinder head, so you can get a smooth edge all the way through, unless you can get the grinder all the way around, and are pro enough or feel comfortable cutting under the clay in a continuouse circle.
    Last edited by westcoastplumber; 12-04-2007 at 07:30 PM.

  6. #6

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    Update: My buddy came over. He is not a plumber but has installed these applications in this area by way of his union plumber brother. He looked at this and decided to break the trap out and remove that small pipe on the left. We had a broken bell on the hub so its not going to work unless we remove the entire wye and put a Fernco flexi wye to join the two pipes. Or, I was going to use a 3"x4" Fernco Dognut but when I brought it home and attached a 3" PVC into it, the 4" part was clearly not the OD as it was almost 6"OD. SO I took it back and bought a 3x3 donut so I can fit it into the 4" ID of the clay. Then hydraulic cement it together to seal and be done.

    Will this work?

    Or should I keep working my way back in the concrete and remove the wye and add a new one instead?

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default drain

    Remove the "Y", scrap the "flexible Y" and the donuts. Either do the job correctly or hire a plumber to do it. From what I read about your project the toilet is not going to be installed properly either. The only way I cut clay pipe is WITH a snap cutter.

  8. #8
    Plumber patrick88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Remove the "Y", scrap the "flexible Y" and the donuts. Either do the job correctly or hire a plumber to do it. From what I read about your project the toilet is not going to be installed properly either. The only way I cut clay pipe is WITH a snap cutter.
    hj is right if your going to do it do it right. Smash out the clay and repipe the drain line. Sounds like you need a real plumber not a guy who helps a plumber. Connecting the drain like you did will cause your drain to back up. MMM liquid Poo flowing through the house. I have seen it happen.
    I'm just starting to work with an old friend of mine to bring solar electric and hot water systems, wind turbines, Flex Fuel Boilers, batteries, hydroponic gardening, books, pellet grills and more. Also the parts for DIY installation.

  9. #9

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    UPDATE #2:

    Man you guys are good. Well I found yet another crack on the other side of that wye. So now I have a pipe coming from the city to a wye that is connected to a trap that I removed and the other is heading towards my kitchen. No other plumbing is on that side of the house. The stack is on the other side of the house and is probably connected closer to the city at a wye somewhere. Since this hub connecting to the wye is broken, I smashed more concrete and have made myself a clean piece of pipe that is a straight shot to the city. I am breaking out the wye and putting a no hub to a 4" pvc and 90 out of the ground. Since the kitchen pipe is clay and run all the way up to the brick outside wall and I can not see where the kitchen drain comes from (at least not until I open that back wall to fix another structural problem) I will be running new 2" pipe and plumbing all new drainage for the kitchen. You guys are correct, I plan on getting a plumber in here tonight. I assum since the hardest part has been done: getting the floor dug up it should not be as expensive. Thanks for the help.

  10. #10
    Plumbing Contractor westcoastplumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danmerk View Post
    UPDATE #2:
    You guys are correct, I plan on getting a plumber in here tonight. I assum since the hardest part has been done: getting the floor dug up it should not be as expensive. Thanks for the help.


    Hmmmm, maybe it won't be so expensive "cause the hard work is done" but not only hard work makes it expensive, the time and education, the tools and the overhead, hopefully the guy takes pride in his work and values the trade and will charge you appropriately. You as the customer will not understand this charge and think it is high.

  11. #11

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    In my experience, clay pipe tends to break at every single hub along its length. It saturates as it ages and becomes soft. We have some city main sewers that are made of terra cotta and they're in pathetic shape.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    HJ what kind of snap cutter do you have that will break old clay tile in place? I would like to buy one. I've rented stuff and never had any luck, maybe they were just junk. I use a sawzall for cast and a grinder with diamond for clay, I had given up on any of the snap tools.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by westcoastplumber View Post
    Hmmmm, maybe it won't be so expensive "cause the hard work is done" but not only hard work makes it expensive, the time and education, the tools and the overhead, hopefully the guy takes pride in his work and values the trade and will charge you appropriately. You as the customer will not understand this charge and think it is high.
    Sorry about that. I did not mean to minimize your trade at all. I am a designer and I see hundreds of people with bad business cards, and work forms that they "designed" themselves. People design their own stuff because they think we charge way too much. My rates are 1/2 a plumber's hourly rate so I completely understand. My apologies. What I meant is that this plumber that is on his way over tomorrow does not have to bring a jackhammer, 25 buckets to haul off 6x5x3 feet of clay and rock. I'll pay anyone for their craft what they themselves feel is a good rate. I won't pay top dollar for a hack.

    Thanks guys.

  14. #14
    Plumbing Company Owner smellslike$tome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danmerk View Post
    Sorry about that. I did not mean to minimize your trade at all. I am a designer and I see hundreds of people with bad business cards, and work forms that they "designed" themselves. People design their own stuff because they think we charge way too much. My rates are 1/2 a plumber's hourly rate so I completely understand. My apologies. What I meant is that this plumber that is on his way over tomorrow does not have to bring a jackhammer, 25 buckets to haul off 6x5x3 feet of clay and rock. I'll pay anyone for their craft what they themselves feel is a good rate. I won't pay top dollar for a hack.

    Thanks guys.
    Wow! Can I come work for you! I need about 4000 - 5000 clients with your exact attitude!

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