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Thread: how to remove the band of lead around cast iron pipe?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member calavera's Avatar
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    Default how to remove the band of lead around cast iron pipe?

    Hello all,

    I had a broken cast iron closet flange under my toilet. This caused the floor and subfloor of the surrounding part of my bathroom to rot. I've since ripped out the floor of the bathroom and am replacing the subflooring/floor from the joists up. In the process of replacing the broken flange, I have managed to drill out some of the lead and the old flange has now been removed. However, the lead band and oakum that was used to seal the pipe is still in place. Is there a trick to removing the lead band. My first thought is to give it a few whacks with the hammer and chisel with the expectation that it will come free. Is there a better(safer for the pipe) way?

    Here are a couple of pictures. you can see that the drill bit that i used was pretty conservative, so as not to drill into the cast iron pipe.





    I am replacing the removed flange with this one:



    how much cleanup to I need to do to the inside and outside of the pipe before i put the replacement on?

    thanks in advance for any advise-
    Todd

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Although this is a forum to assist folks doing DIY plumbing jobs, sometimes the best advice is to call a plumber. I say this partly because it appears you are working with an older installation, and working with CI is not an easy DIY job. A plumber would make short work of this including installing a new flange. Of course, there is a minimum service charge even on a very quick and easy job, but often we DIYer get in over our heads and it ends up costing more in wasted time, parts, and often having to call for help anyway. For example, if you "whack it with a hammer and chisel" and the darn pipe breaks, then what will you do?

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    DIY Junior Member calavera's Avatar
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    Thanks, Gary. i don't know if this was originally in the house, but if so it'd be from around 1929. i appreciate your advice to be cautious. i'll definitely ponder on the course of action, but i definitely would like a couple of opinions on methods that would typically be used to removed the lead. drilling through it, you can tell that it is way softer than the cast iron, so my famous last words would be to chisel lightly.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member asktom's Avatar
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    Cut a vertical slot in the lead with a hack saw or sawzall then pry it off with that beat up old screwdriver you have that you always use as a chisel. Once you have the lead cut down to the cast iron it will peel right off. If you scratch the cast iron a little it won't matter.

  5. #5
    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    Just use a wire brush to clean it up when you get the lead off, powered or hand.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Drive a screwdriver through the lead to cut it in two, and then slide it off. It is not rocket science, and you also removed the flange in the most time wasting way possible, (drilling the holes did NOTHING to help loosen the flange. The reason for drilling holes in lead is to REMOVE it, not "soften the joint up".).
    Last edited by hj; 01-12-2011 at 05:00 AM.

  7. #7
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Working with Cast Iron is a pain in the rear. Only once have I gone to the hospital from a work related accident and it was a job where I was removing a cast iron stack. I was wearing a safety mask, eye protection and hearing protection but still my saws all managed to get some cast iron "Dust" in my eye and with me rubbing it all day I was in major pain by night time.

    A little back story to follow up with the advice of calling a plumber. Plumbers carry for the most part a tool called a snap cutter. It cuts cast iron pipe like butter with a compression chain type kismo. I would call a plumber and have him/her snap the line 6" or so on the horizontal run and switch it out to ABS for you. This is not a huge job.

    The vertical piece you have there I'm thinking might be flexible? Is this right?

    If it is not flexible and you wish to tackle this job yourself. First stabilize the rest of the work to ensure that in fixing one connection point you don't affect the two other down stream.

    Good Luck.

    JW


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

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    DIY Junior Member calavera's Avatar
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    Thanks John and others. I'll finish the buildout of the floor before I start work with the pipe(ie. adding the flange etc). I just wanted to get the pipe cleaned up while i had the floor and additional braces out of the way. Likewise, I wanted to make sure that the flange would be sitting properly on the pipe even with the floor.

    hj, thanks for the correction. time wasn't of the essence in my case.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member calavera's Avatar
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    Well HJ you're right it isn't rocket science. That lead is like butter when whacked with hammer and chisel. It came off real easy.

    i do have a follow up question. after i cleaned the pipe up, i could tell that the very top of edge of some of the pipe was a little brittle. some small pieces, i'd say about 1/4 of an inch on one side were real lose and just flaked off. they were quite sticky and had the consistency of wet clay and wax(obviously from the wax ring). Should this be a concern? My original plan was to replace the old cast iron flange with the one in my original post.

    i would assume when this pipe was put in 80 years ago, it was even all the way around and would not be very jagged. should i even the pipe up all the way around getting rid of any soft spots? or should i cut the pipe altogether and patch in a piece of pvc?

    thanks in advance-
    Todd
    Last edited by calavera; 01-17-2011 at 06:52 AM.

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The pipe was ALWAYS jagged. In the old days the pipe was cut with a hammer and chisel and that NEVER gave a smooth cut. Get the new flange, pack some oakum into the joint, then melt the lead you removed from the pipe to repour the joint.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member calavera's Avatar
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    well, i finally got the subfloor and primary floor back in place. then i tiled the floor with an older looking hex tile to match our other bathroom. this is the modern hex tile. the other bathroom has the original. thanks for all of the advice. this was my first diy project in my 80 year old house. oh, as i started the thread with replacing that lead lined broken cast iron flange. you can see that i properly replaced it with this new one from oakley. here's a picture:



    all the best-
    todd

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