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Thread: Cut down sewer cleanout... possible?

  1. #1

    Default Cut down sewer cleanout... possible?

    Hello all,

    I have a sewer cleanout in my basement that is proving to be quite a hazard. It is situated right in a walking path and sticks up about 2" out of the floor. I would like to find a way, without tearing up the entire basement, to sink the cleanout down so it is at least flush with the floor. I believe the pipe is made of cast iron so I really have no idea how to go about such a thing (or if it is even possible). Is there any way to saw or torch off the exposed section of pipe and thread the remaining section so it would accept the cap?

    Any advice would be appreciated,
    Ryan

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default

    This will / may be quite a project.

    Are you finishing the basement?

    You could spray paint it flourscent green, or yellow, or orange to remind your eyes it is there.

    OR

    make a ramp with beveled 2 X 8s or 10s going all around it.
    Last edited by Cass; 01-21-2006 at 09:33 AM.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default c.o.

    cast iron does not torch or thread, and it takes a fairly large area around the pipe to cut it off. So your project may be outside the normal DIY'ers abilities.

  4. #4
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Default The Answer is Below the Concrete

    It is there and you want it gone. The answer is below the concrete. It depends on the piping size and arrangement and the depth to the pipe. You might be able to figure it out by removing the cleanout plug and inspecting from above.

    There are probably code-compliant ways to do it, and other ways that might be as safe but not in the code.

    If you can open the cleanout and find 3 inches of straight pipe beyond the top of the floor, you could probably cut the pipe off flush and use a mechanical test plug that fits inside the pipe and expands with a screw thread. Find the plug before you cut the pipe. http://www.pipeplug.com/hand.htm

    I would modify the plug by taking off the shoulder so it would fit below flush in the remaining pipe, which will probably be cut at an angle.

    You should be able to cut the pipe with an abrasive wheel on an angle grinder and grind it flush with the floor.

    There are probably variations on this theme that will be apparent to you as you are looking at the job. It will be easiest if you can find a way to work inside the pipe to avoid breaking concrete.

    If it comes to breaking concrete, which is not that difficult, you must be careful not to break the iron pipe below where you intend to cut it off.

    If there is enough space below the floor, you could probably break out the concrete and use a no-hub coupling to install a cleanout that would be flush or below flush with the floor.

    I'm sure the master plumbers here will have other and probably better ideas.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for all the advice everyone!

    To answer your question Cass, I am finishing the basement. Infact, I'm almost done converting it to a home theater (the sewer cleanout being one of the last big projects). In hind sight, I probably should have addressed the cleanout problem much earlier. I had thought about building a ramp as hj suggested but I would like to carpet the floor (currently just vinyl over concrete) and would really prefer to avoid anything sticking above floor level. I think Bob's suggestion is sounding best so far. Can anyone foresee any big problems with cutting off the pipe with an angle grinder and using a mechanical test plug to cap off the unthreaded pipe? There is much more than a few inches (probably two or three feet) of straight pipe below the floor to work with. Would an angle grinder be the best tool to use for cutting the pipe and if so, how difficult do you expect it would be?

    Thanks again for all the great advice,
    Ryan

  6. #6

    Default

    Could anyone tell me if an internal pipe cutter like this might work? If so, would I have any chance of renting one locally? I probably couldn't justify the $200 price-tag for a one-time use.

  7. #7
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Default

    If you cut it off, then what are you going to do?

  8. #8

    Default

    Not 100% sure. Would I be able to remove the section of pipe without completely destroying the surrounding concrete? If not, it may simply be more convenient to only cut down flush with the floor as Bob suggested. Either way, I think the mechanical test plug idea proposed by Bob would work to seal the cleanout.

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm not a pro, but my choice would be grind it off and plug it with an internally expanding rubber plug.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10

    Default New Info

    Hey all,

    I got delayed on this project a bit and just now came back to revisit it. While taking a more careful look at the cleanout, I noticed that there is a joint in the cast iron pipe about 3" below the floor. Is there any way I could take advantage of this fact by splitting the pipe at the joint and removing the top section? If so, how would I go about it? Would it be possible to melt the solder used to join the pipes with a torch or maybe use a saw-zal to make vertical cuts down to the joint and remove a wedge at a time?

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated,
    Ryan

  11. #11
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Default

    You can usually drill out some of the lead. You will probably want a long bit so your drill motor will be above the higher piece. You might be able to find a 3/8 bit that is 18" long. If you can cut the lead into small pieces with the drill you can probably pull the pieces out with pliers. Or you might be able to bend something into a hook to pull out the pieces.

    If you break the hub piece you want to keep you will have a lot more work.

    I suspect that you would not be able to put enough heat on it to melt it and the melted lead will not fall out of the joint.

    I saw a 4" expandable plug at Home Depot last week.

  12. #12
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default

    The 18" drill bits are called aircraft bits. If you drill out as much lead as possible you should be able to melt out what is left with some map gas.

  13. #13

    Default

    Thanks for the tips guys.

    To do the drilling will I need to have access to the outside of the pipe (aka, will I have to chisel out the concrete around the pipe)?

    Here are a couple of pictures of the problem cleanout just for reference.

    Thanks again,
    Ryan
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  14. #14
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default co

    Without doing some exploration, it is hard to tell if you have a no-hub or bell and spigot cast iron system, although the depth of the joint implies bell and spigot with lead joints. I would put papers into the pipe to plug it, and then split the cast iron out of the hub, but I am not sure if that is something you could do without damaging the piece you want to keep.

  15. #15

    Default

    hj,

    What tools would you use to split the top section of pipe out of the hub?

    Thanks,
    Ryan

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