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Thread: Need to remove old galvanized septic line

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member chaparral66's Avatar
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    Default Need to remove old galvanized septic line

    Hi all,
    First time poster here. First off, a big thanks to Mr. Love for providing these forums. On to my problem:

    We were told the home we purchased was all city sewer, but it turns out one line goes to an old septic system. It's non-functioning, no access hatch, nothing. To top it off my master bathroom still feeds into it, so everything from that bathroom is going into the tank which is leaking/overflowing into the ground. I'm going to remove the old galvanized line and connect that bathroom to the PVC which flows to the city sewer. My questions are how to remove, seal, and connect new PVC. Would a heavy-duty sawzall work? I plan to add support and remove in sections. I'd like to remove it all the way to the wall if possible. What would then be the preferred method for sealing the remaining pipe? Lastly, I'll need to connect new PVC to the vent stack which is also galvanized. Preferred seems to be a rubber coupling, but I'm open to suggestions. Pics are attached.

    Thanks all!Name:  septic1.jpg
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  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    With all due respect for your desire/need to remove and replace this line, I gotta tell you that it isn't galvanized pipe. It is cast iron. Cast iron is much heavier than galvanized pipe and poses real challenges for a novice. I do realize that like all of us DIY folks, you are looking to save the cost of a plumber. Nothing wrong with that and perfectly understandable, but perhaps this is not the place to try to save money. When you start cutting cast iron loose, you are opening a can of worms. A plumber not only has the proper tools to do the job, but more importantly, has the experience to do the job properly, safely, and quickly. Not all jobs are suited for DIY and working with cast iron is one of them.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Someone, sometime, painted the pipe which fooled you. Cast iron is quite heavy and not the easiest thing to work with for a novice.

    The easiest way to cut CI is with a snapper - this is a fancy chain that is wrapped around the tool then tightened until the sharp points crack the pipe. It can be cut with some sawsall blades, or a cutoff wheel on a grinder. There are nohub connectors where you can make the transition, and the easiest may be to just cap the portion going out the wall. If you leave enough of a stub, they sell rubber caps that seal with a hose clamp. Or, lead on a cap. You might cut it flush and then pack in some hydraulic cement, but you'd need to put something in there to pack against.

    Last edited by Terry; 05-22-2012 at 12:53 PM. Reason: added snap cutter picture
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; So because cast iron weighs a lot, nobody should touch it Gary?

    No, because HE does not know what he would be working with, and might do it the "easy" way, rather than the right way, AND because once no water is flowing to the old septic tank it MUST be filled with dirt, gravel, or something, THAT is why he should NOT be doing it himself. If the task only requires the I.Q. of a turnip, wnich your examples qualify for, then it is a good candidate for a DIY job.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Junior Member chaparral66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    quote; So because cast iron weighs a lot, nobody should touch it Gary?

    No, because HE does not know what he would be working with, and might do it the "easy" way, rather than the right way, AND because once no water is flowing to the old septic tank it MUST be filled with dirt, gravel, or something, THAT is why he should NOT be doing it himself. If the task only requires the I.Q. of a turnip, wnich your examples qualify for, then it is a good candidate for a DIY job.
    I use professionals for many jobs. I've gotten a quote for this: $650 for removal and re-piping, $450 for removal only, which I cannot afford. Plus as you mentioned the added expense of the tank remediation. We purchased this home in 2005, and basically someone knew of the problem and dumped it on us. My basement floods constantly due to having a full septic tank that's not being pumped to the leach field, and I have the added bonus of raw sewing going into the ground right next to my house. My wife is disabled and we're going broke buying her meds. So there are projects that I either DIY or they just don't get done.

    Thanks anyway. I'll find a way.

  6. #6
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    As noted, it is not galvanized. It is cast iron, which someone painted silver for appearance sake.

    You can cut it with a sawzall, but you will need a LOT of blades. You can cut it with a grinder, but that creates a god-awful mess of dust.

    You can rent the chain snapper, probably.



    How is the basement flooding? If the septic tank is fill to overflow, you will have some kind of a mess when you cut that pipe! And as others have mentioned, you cannot ignore the weight of those pipe sections. The elbow weigh 30lbs+, the T is 40lbs+, the pipe is about 16lbs per foot.


    You certainly can't just leave that septic tank. It is full of sewage and is a health hazard, not to mention a collapse hazard. You need to dig, find the top, and have it pumped, then filled.
    Last edited by Terry; 05-22-2012 at 12:54 PM.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by chaparral66 View Post
    Hi all,
    First time poster here. First off, a big thanks to Mr. Love for providing these forums. On to my problem:

    We were told the home we purchased was all city sewer, but it turns out one line goes to an old septic system. It's non-functioning, no access hatch, nothing. To top it off my master bathroom still feeds into it, so everything from that bathroom is going into the tank which is leaking/overflowing into the ground. I'm going to remove the old galvanized line and connect that bathroom to the PVC which flows to the city sewer. My questions are how to remove, seal, and connect new PVC. Would a heavy-duty sawzall work? I plan to add support and remove in sections. I'd like to remove it all the way to the wall if possible. What would then be the preferred method for sealing the remaining pipe? Lastly, I'll need to connect new PVC to the vent stack which is also galvanized. Preferred seems to be a rubber coupling, but I'm open to suggestions. Pics are attached.

    Thanks all!Name:  septic1.jpg
Views: 368
Size:  52.1 KBName:  septic2.jpg
Views: 261
Size:  53.1 KB
    Depending on when you bought, and, if you paid for a home inspection, if this was not noted, you might be able to have some recourse and perhaps, get some help in paying to have this removed. Might be worth your while to look into this. First hand, I have experienced some stuff like this float. The key words to use, is "health hazard." It should had been noted, if not, he didn't do his job well.
    Last edited by Cookie; 05-22-2012 at 08:02 AM.

  8. #8
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Looking at the new plumbing in white, much of that has the wrong fittings.

    I'm sorry you have problems there with the plumbing. And whoever did the newer plumbing was a bit clueless too.

    What the others have mentioned is pumping and filing the septic tank.
    Then there is the removal of the old cast iron.
    And then running the new PVC lines in. You can use proper shielded couplings above ground for the connections from old to new. They come in different sizes depending on the pipe size they are connecting to.
    You may also want to look into any help that can be found for fixing the place up. There may be a program locally for that. I realize that medical costs can be very high. And in the US, it's the highest in the world. We may have the most expensive plumbing in the world too. At least the plumbing when done by licensed plumbers is top notch too.
    Good luck on the project, and I hope your wife's health improves too. I know there are programs for getting meds too. Some of the drug companies will provide for less if asked. Not all insurance programs pick up enough of the costs right now. Some co-pays can be in the range of $25,000 and $75,000 a year.

  9. #9
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    You need only ONE sawzall blade and some old tranny oil in a pump up sprayer, and someone to keep the blade wet. I watched one moron cut out a granite kitchen with a skil saw - used 6 blades dry. I taped a hose on mine and cut 6 kitchens with one blade.

    Once I cut up a pallet of black and white marble for a italian mosaic into 1/4" squares. Set up a big 5hp radial saw for the job. Still on the same blade 10 years later. Like your car and girlfriends, its all about lube for a good job done.

    Cut it after a dry spell and a week of non use of the master. simply insert a rubber wye in there and head to the county pipe. Use a clamp on or in rubber plug for the line to the septic.

    make all your cuts on the long easy run and leave everything else untouched.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 05-24-2012 at 11:08 AM.

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