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Thread: Vent question, no room to do it right, lesser of 2 evils?

  1. #1

    Default Vent question, no room to do it right, lesser of 2 evils?

    I'm adding a sink to an existing stack, and the vent I'm tying into is awkward. It's level is a little problematic, being slightly under the 42 I'd need for the 36" counter high sink, but I think it'll be okay if I can tie into it, however putting the tee on the vertical is out. And there isn't much room between the cast iron and the vertical vent, it's inside a tight chase, and I REALLY don't want to get involved in cutting the 60 year old cast iron. Every plumber I've ever hired here has shied away from it too.

    So as I see my choices, after I cut the vertical, cut out the galvanized from the cast iron fitting, and thread in a PVC adapter, I can reduce to 1 1/2 which allows me to fit a tee and elbow in the horizontal space I have, or I can start whittling away to shorten the hubs on 2" fittings till I can fit them in. Which is worse? It's a vent, so the shortened hubs won't be under any pressure, but if I go down to 1 1/2", there shouldn't be any problems either, there's nothing above this in the stack and only 1 other sink on the same vent below.

    Any thoughts, or an option I've overlooked? This isn't getting inspected, but I like to do things as right as I can, since the codes are there for a reason. Thanks for reading.


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  2. #2
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    You are telling me that you can't get a licensed plumber to cut that cast iron? Really ? Why isn't it getting inspected?
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    One problem is that since that vent is 2" it is probably because it HAS to be 2", therefore reducing it to 1 1/2" might not pass inspection. A street tee into a male adapter and then a street elbow would be the shortest way to do it, do NOT start cutting the ends off fittings. Those two fittings will probably be a bit too long, so you would have to "offset" the 2" riser slightly to the right in order for it to line up. I have seldom had a problem cutting a 60 year old riser, but since this has always been a vent, the metal is probably too thin or brittle to snap cut it, which means you could also have a problem removing that 2" connection from the cast iron.
    Last edited by hj; 11-29-2011 at 04:46 AM.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    One problem is that since that vent is 2" it is probably because it HAS to be 2", therefore reducing it to 1 1/2" might not pass inspection. A street tee into a male adapter and then a street elbow would be the shortest way to do it, do NOT start cutting the ends off fittings. Those two fittings will probably be a bit too long, so you would have to "offset" the 2" riser slightly to the right in order for it to line up. I have seldom had a problem cutting a 60 year old riser, but since this has always been a vent, the metal is probably too thin or brittle to snap cut it, which means you could also have a problem removing that 2" connection from the cast iron.
    Thanks hj. I didn't know a street tee existed, none of my suppliers had one, they didn't have a vent tee either. Is there a site you can recommend that shows all possible fitting and their dimensions? I do wonder if that street santee is much of an improvement over the cleanout tee I have or a real vent tee. I see a vent street ell will help the cause also but there doesn't seem to be a street vent tee. I'm heading out now to the biggest supplier in town and see if they have these "exotics".

    I can't offset the 2" riser, it's in a chase with tilework on the sides opposite where I'm accessing it. The only way to do it would be to go up several feet above the tile and demo a hole to even be able to cut the cast iron and run it up there. Re cast iron: are you saying that because the 2" into the cast iron has been above all waste and dry that it's going to be too frozen to remove by cutting it close, cutting the pipe inside the hub, and banging it out?

    As for the vent needing to be 2", the voodoo of vent design is beyond me. I can't see why even 2 kitchen sinks draining would need more air than a 1 1/2 can supply. Presumably the code is in case the line gets partially blocked?

    Tom: the reason for no inspection is that it's a multifamily, and I'm not legally allowed to do any plumbing or electric no matter how happy I would be to have it inspected. If I was okay with doing it half-assed, I wouldn't have come here for advice. FWIW, as I said, licensed plumbers I've hired with permits have done backflips to avoid cutting the cast iron. When I added a shower on the 2nd floor right next to the stack, he ran the pvc drain down the chase to the basement where he could tie into a different stack that was pvc.

  5. #5
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Nibco and Charlotte pipe are two good websites for fittings.

  6. #6
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gellfex View Post
    Tom: the reason for no inspection is that it's a multifamily, and I'm not legally allowed to do any plumbing or electric no matter how happy I would be to have it inspected. If I was okay with doing it half-assed, I wouldn't have come here for advice. FWIW, as I said, licensed plumbers I've hired with permits have done backflips to avoid cutting the cast iron. When I added a shower on the 2nd floor right next to the stack, he ran the pvc drain down the chase to the basement where he could tie into a different stack that was pvc.
    Ok so what you are about to do is illegal but you are going to do it anyway so understand this. You are going to work on a multifamily home where anything that YOU do illegally becomes your liability and god forbid, some property or personal damage should occur down the road because when it is found out that you did this work illegally they will hang you by the short and curlies. Can you say "bye, bye home sweet home"
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Get a 2" threaded PVC nipple and screw it into the tee, then cut it off the depth of the vent tee's hub. Glue the tee on and then a vent street 90. Cast iron is very durable when it is kept wet, but the vent portion, because it is subjected to humid air will deteriorate. When you remove the pipe there might not be any threads left to screw into. And if you start hammering on it, it could crack, but you WILL heard a lot of "scale" falling down the pipe to end up at the turn under the floor.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
    Ok so what you are about to do is illegal but you are going to do it anyway so understand this. You are going to work on a multifamily home where anything that YOU do illegally becomes your liability and god forbid, some property or personal damage should occur down the road because when it is found out that you did this work illegally they will hang you by the short and curlies. Can you say "bye, bye home sweet home"
    Yes, thanks, I understand that very well. Which of course is a great motivation to do it right, no? Does this thread really need to be about this? The guys at the best local plumbing supply suggested I bury an intake vent in the wall since I wasn't getting inspected, I don't accept that, I want to do a good job.

    I picked up a vent street ell, and combined with the inspection tee makes it short enough that I think I might make it given some play in the flex coupling on the riser. I've cut the 2" off the hub and am in the process of removing the stub, it need to be slotted by hand, but there was only 1/4" in the hub.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Get a 2" threaded PVC nipple and screw it into the tee, then cut it off the depth of the vent tee's hub. Glue the tee on and then a vent street 90. Cast iron is very durable when it is kept wet, but the vent portion, because it is subjected to humid air will deteriorate. When you remove the pipe there might not be any threads left to screw into. And if you start hammering on it, it could crack, but you WILL heard a lot of "scale" falling down the pipe to end up at the turn under the floor.
    Thanks hj, but I'm afraid I'm struggling to follow you on what goes where. Is that nipple going into the cast iron? are you suggesting gluing the vent tee's hub over the pvc threaded section? I thought I was going to thread into the 4" cast iron hub a male thread adapter, a short piece of pipe, the tee, then the street ell, going from left to right. It looks like I'll be successful removing the remains of the 2" steel threads, but because the nipple was in only 1/4", I won't have much there.

  10. #10
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=gellfex;322044]Yes, thanks, I understand that very well. Which of course is a great motivation to do it right, no? Does this thread really need to be about this? The guys at the best local plumbing supply suggested I bury an intake vent in the wall since I wasn't getting inspected, I don't accept that, I want to do a good job.

    No, I suppose it doesn't at that so does that make us all accomplices?

    Doing it right means getting it permitted. It is a part of the process. Do you think that because you are not licensed that the code and the law does not apply to you? The purpose of permitting and inspection is to insure that the work done is done to code and since you have no idea what you are doing in the first place how is it that you expect to be able to objectively inspect your own work to determine whether it is "done right" and meets code?

    I can't speak for anyone else here but I am not going to give any sort of advice to someone that allows them to make an end run around the law. The plumbing codes are there to protect the health and safety of the public, not just the individual homeowner.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  11. #11
    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    Tom, if you choose to make that personal stand, no problem. But really, what do you think is going on on these forums? I bet 90% of the work that people are asking questions about on here is "illegally" done, as in no permits/inspections. If the people asking these questions were planning on doing it with inspections and didn't know what they were doing, most would probably just hire a pro.

    In this case, he can't do it "legally" (can you tell by my quotes that I don't have much respect for the current system? But that's a different rant) himself, so its hire a plumber or do it illegally himself. There is no in between when its not owner occupied.

    The way I see it is this... people are going to do work w/o permits and inspections whether they get help/advice or not. The advice on here is just helping the "illegal" work get done better and safer. I'm personally happy with that.

    As for best method here... I defer to HJ and others with more experience

  12. #12
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtcummins View Post
    Tom, if you choose to make that personal stand, no problem. But really, what do you think is going on on these forums? I bet 90% of the work that people are asking questions about on here is "illegally" done, as in no permits/inspections. If the people asking these questions were planning on doing it with inspections and didn't know what they were doing, most would probably just hire a pro.

    In this case, he can't do it "legally" (can you tell by my quotes that I don't have much respect for the current system? But that's a different rant) himself, so its hire a plumber or do it illegally himself. There is no in between when its not owner occupied.

    The way I see it is this... people are going to do work w/o permits and inspections whether they get help/advice or not. The advice on here is just helping the "illegal" work get done better and safer. I'm personally happy with that.

    As for best method here... I defer to HJ and others with more experience

    That you fail to see the skewed logic in your argument is disturbing. It's like giving bank robbers the combination to the safe because since they are doing something illegal you might as well make it easy for them. Your post is but one of many current indicators for the collapse of society and the rule of law. Plumbing codes are the LAW. Breaking them is no less a crime than breaking any other law. Though it may seem trivial to you, none the less the code carries the weight of the LAW and failure to comply may well result in fines and or imprisonment should someone get hurt or killed by a persons indifference for the law. When citizens think they are exempt from the law we might as well call an end to this representative republic that so many have died to defend.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  13. #13
    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    I understand your point, but your logic is far more skewed than mine. My point is that people who are posting here are often, if not most of the time, doing so to learn how to do a job themselves. This in many, if not most, cases is probably being done illegally (no permits). Not responding to them will not change that 99% of the time. So, I propose that given that situation (which you do have a point in not agreeing with the method of work), we can do our best to make the work they're going to do anyway MORE LEGAL. If the worst offense of someone on here is that they didn't get a permit, but did all the work correctly, I think this forum has served a very valuable service. The alternative was still no permit, but improper and illegal (and potentially dangerous) work, on top of not doing the legal process of paying the city/county to be big brother.

    Helping someone to rob a bank is quite the opposite. You are assisting them in doing something illegal in order to give them a better chance of succeeding in their illegal act, not in order to make what they're doing more legal. What I'm proposing is more akin to knocking out a belligerent drunk who's about to kill someone to stop him from doing so. Yes, what you're doing is technically an illegal action, but given the circumstances, I would say its at least somewhat appropriate behavior. And no, that is not a perfect analogy either, I'm sure you can find some holes in it.

    You also skirted my main question... What do you think is happening on here? Do you just choose to ignore the fact that advice you give is often used for "illegal" work? Do you only have a moral objection if you know what the intent of the poster is upfront? Do you not feel the need to determine this when its not offered, in order to be consistent in your stand?

    People post on here to learn how to best do projects given their circumstances. Whether or not they're doing that with permits is most times unknown, but I think the best thing we can do on here is ensure that people are doing the work they're doing, whether with permits or not, in the safest and most code compliant manner that is possible and practical. Yes, sometimes I advocate a safe and reasonable method that differs from code if the circumstances deem the code method very unpractical. You can shoot me when you see me, I'm an awful person for living in reality.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gellfex View Post
    Yes, thanks, I understand that very well. Which of course is a great motivation to do it right, no? Does this thread really need to be about this? The guys at the best local plumbing supply suggested I bury an intake vent in the wall since I wasn't getting inspected, I don't accept that, I want to do a good job.
    No, I suppose it doesn't at that so does that make us all accomplices?

    Doing it right means getting it permitted. It is a part of the process. Do you think that because you are not licensed that the code and the law does not apply to you? The purpose of permitting and inspection is to insure that the work done is done to code and since you have no idea what you are doing in the first place how is it that you expect to be able to objectively inspect your own work to determine whether it is "done right" and meets code?

    I can't speak for anyone else here but I am not going to give any sort of advice to someone that allows them to make an end run around the law. The plumbing codes are there to protect the health and safety of the public, not just the individual homeowner.
    I've gotten the stub of the steel nipple out without trauma and now I've just got to work out the offsets and I'll have an "up to code" vent. Since you'd like to make this the topic of the thread, I'll bite.

    I've hired many licensed contractors who'd rather pull their own teeth than pull permits. Some of them even knew what they were doing. A number clearly did not, even though the lax city inspectors didn't catch their mistakes. What do you think of a contractor that asks the client whether they'd like a permit or not?

    I'm a professional craftsman that's out of work right now. Do I spend money I don't have for the inconsistent expertise and high cost of a contractor, or do I take my time and great care and do it right? I've had a "pro" carpenter build a stud corner with 2 studs, plumbers put a gas valve unreachable behind piping, drywall not shimmed so screws pop if it's hit, and I could go on ad nauseam. Not only do I not screw up by taking shortcuts to save time, but because I'm doing it all, I don't have each trade causing thoughtless problems for the others. I pressure test my gas lines, something I've never had a plumber do. I've had to call several plumbers back for gas leaks. I've also had plumbers bitch and moan when I say I'm going to follow the instructions on the permit and not pay them the final till after inspection.

    In general, because I take the time, the work I do on my home and rentals is better quality than I could have hired someone to do. I hate doing carpentry trim work, but my miters join and I cope the corners, unlike most "pros" who bang it out. I've seen new $0.5 million condos with finish work that looks like it was done by a middle schooler, a friend of mine's very expensive kitchen reno is falling apart, the 8" crown molding has 1/2" gaps all over. But according to the LAWS, I can't even frame a closet on my own. I recently discovered Holmes on Homes, and every other episode seems to involve inspected new construction or reno that was done badly and/or illegally and not caught by the inspectors. I had a permit for a new stairway by a specialty stair contractor: the inspector glanced in, saw "yup, there's a stair" and that was all. It could have been dangerous, and as it turned out I ended up having to reinforce the structure myself. Here in Jersey those inspectors are regularly sent to the slammer for corruption, and local businesses in particular suffer when they won't play the yellow envelope game, it can take years to open a restaurant if you don't play.

    Sorry, but my conclusion is even "pro" + inspection doesn't always equal "done right". I understand that not all DIY's are as cautious and careful and as dedicated to doing it right as me, making your attitude valid I guess. But helping me online doesn't make you an "accomplice" any more than writing a DIY book does. Since inspectors clearly miss much, helping a DIY in a single family with his own permit can be just as risky to the public if he doesn't understand what he's doing. Try to see from my side the experience of not getting what I pay for being frustrating, especially if I have the time to do it myself. And if you're an honest and skilled plumber who returns calls, your customers should consider themselves lucky.

    PS: send your "rule of law" speech to the SEC and see if they can get around to prosecuting ANY of the wall streeters who wrecked our economy breaking all sorts of laws.

  15. #15
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    And there you have it folks. Two shining examples of a couple of guys that will go to any lengths to justify breaking the law.

    I picked on this one because YOU said right up front that you were not going to get permitted and inspected. Sure, I imagine quite a few folks posting here don't bother with the process either unless they say so I presume that they will. You however are determined to bypass the whole process based on well frankly Bull Shit. I've heard all the excuses for why you won't hire a professional above and it's crap. You know it and I know it. There are plenty of skilled, professional plumbers in NJ that can and will do your project properly, to code and get the necessary permits and inspections. You are just too cheap to hire them. IF it was solely your house with no other occupants it might different but you are working on commercial property and you are doing it illegally. Justify all you want, you are wrong. Like it or not YOU DO NOT have the right to break the law and do whatever you want. And BTW Holmes may comp[lain about "lax" inspectors but every job he does gets a permit and an inspection.
    Last edited by Tom Sawyer; 11-30-2011 at 03:39 AM.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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