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Thread: DIY or Run for the hills?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member DIY-Dad's Avatar
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    Default DIY or Run for the hills?

    Evening, all. First time posting here. I've done a bit of looking, so as to avoid pestering with questions already asked, but I couldn't really find an answer that fit.

    My wife and I are looking at buying our first home. We've found this pretty little piece of work built in 1930. It was bought as a foreclosure and fixed up nicely. We had our inspection done yesterday, and our inspector found a hole in the main drain, which I'm assuming is the original cast iron pipe. (Picture beneath text)

    I've been reading on switching out cast iron for PVC, and while I've not undertaken such a project, it seems that with the right planning and tools, I could do it.

    IF it were in the middle of the pipe.

    It appears the hole is pretty close to the coupling. I can see that there has been some replacement work done before, but is it feasible to undertake such a project? Is it too close to the coupling?

    If DIY appears to be out of the question, and considering that what-you-see-is-what-you-get, and no crazy variables pop up, are there any ideas on how much it might cost to get a plumber to do this (purely experience-based, of course).

    My hopes, of course, is that I can either do it myself or that the cost isn't too excessive. Love the house, but also want to exercise good judgment.

    As promised, here's the pic. I appreciate any input!


  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member Briandl's Avatar
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    Why not ask the seller to fix it, or give you an allowance to do so?

    The good news is there's plenty of space under there.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Looks like a lot of PVC supply lines which are not code, and some galvanized steel showing as well. I would suggest you get a plumber to evaluate all of the plumbing in the house. If the supply lines are still galvanized steel or if they have been changed to PVC, then yeah, I'd say run for the hills. If the house plumbing has been hacked, you could be looking at a total rebuilding of the plumbing system. This much would really not be a DIY job for the novice.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member DIY-Dad's Avatar
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    Hey, Brian. Taking it up with the seller is definitely an option. I was just hoping it'd be something I could say, "Sure, I can tackle this, but you're funding it." Gary, our inspector noted that several of the lines looked as though they lacked proper support, but didn't mention anything about the steel, so I'll definitely inquire into that. I know little of anything about plumbing architecture aside from what I've been reading today, so getting a plumber is probably a good option. Better to spend a bit of money to save a ton. With all the inspection and appraisal costs, though, I was really hoping to get a little dirty and fix it myself and save some cash

    Thanks for your input!

  5. #5
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    You would cut the pipe above the hole and couple it there.

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member Fubar411's Avatar
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    Doing the waste is much harder than it looks, not to say you can't do it. Supply is much simpler.

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Cutting cast iron can be easy with the right tool (you can rent them for cheap), but old CI can shatter if it is in bad condition making the job much harder. The easiest way to cut it is with a soil pipe cutter (snap cutter). With the condition of the pipe, you might not want to use that, an dwould have to cut it either with a grinder, or a saw blade, which can take a lot longer, but should give you a cleaner cut. CI is VERY heavy, and you'd be working on your back with not a lot of room, so it's not a pleasant task.

    The galvanized pipe in there, especially if it is as old as the CI, could be a major problem as well. Depending on water conditions, it can rust out from the inside, in the process, clogging up valves with rust particles, and getting smaller and smaller as the rust swells, reducing the water flow. The rubber banded connector under the T is not the proper connector there...that is only allowed underground. Notice that the ends of the pipe aren't aligned...part of that could be the connector. The proper one has a metal reinforcement sleeve, and forces the ends to align. Misaligned pipe can be the source of a clog. The original pipe in the ground was probably CI as well, and part of that was replaced. If they did that with the same quality as that above, it doesn't look good.

    I'd open multiple faucets, look for rust stains in the sinks/tub, and check the flow volume to see how well that works. If the flow is low or there's a lot of rust, you might be looking at a full supply repipe for the supply as well. CI can last a long time, but if the slope is wrong, or something causes clogs so there's frequent standing water, you'd get more corrosion.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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