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Thread: 90 yo cast iron sewer pipe in basement - leaking

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Default 90 yo cast iron sewer pipe in basement - leaking

    Went down in the basement tonight to find a water spot on the floor. It hasn't rained, and we havent gotten water in our basement in years. I tracked it and got to this:



    I know that this evening before we went out for dinner, my wife and I both used the bathroom, and the dishwasher was draining all at once. If there was ever water before, it was local and small, never dumped water that flowed to another point and made a puddle like it did this pm.

    I had seen these for a while now:



    There is already a patch of about 3 feet of 4" PVC connected by two donuts. It is a long way away from the crack where the leak is, and those little rust spots are along the length between the patch and this crack. So my intent is to just replace the whole entire length. There are no vertical pipes coming off it so the weight loading should be low.

    As a DoD employee, I am furloughed tomorrow, so rather than supporting our military, I'll be working on this, DIY, at least take a crack at it so I can call a pro before noon if need be.

    I have a sawzall, but no grinder or chain cutter for CI pipe. The pipe I want to cut out is probably 15-20'. My main issue is this:



    It goes through a poured concrete wall (accessible on both sides, just two 'rooms' in my basement), which will be tough to get out of there I guess.

    So my plan is this:

    1) disconnect the existing patch
    2) start cutting back manageable lengths of the pipe for removal
    3) cut to about 1 foot on either side of where it goes
    4) use sledge hammer to force pipe through wall
    5) clean CI pipe on either end to be smooth and clean metal
    6) cut and attach 4" PVC drain pipe to CI pipe with donuts, torque to spec.

    About right?

    Questions:

    - Will there be a lot of water in the drain pipe? I assume it is higher than the sewer pipe in the street, but how much of a mess should I expect? Any chance of the town sewer pushing water back up the pipe? Our drains are clear and work perfect.

    - Am I crazy to think that I'll be able to cut the pipe with my sawzall vs another tool? The pipe is a few inches off the ground and maybe an much from the wall.

    - For the final cuts at the ends where I'll use donuts, should I clean/sand/paint/prep the CI pipe prior to attaching?

    - My sewer pipe I think has an open exposed grate out in my driveway apron, where my pipe connects to the town sewer system. I'd think that this would help mitigate some sewer gas, though I never smell anything (sulfide gas is heavier than air I suppose). Since the pipe will be exposed, I'm sure sewer gas will diffuse in. What is the best way to clog it? Wet rag or plastic bag?

    Thank you so much for your advisement!!

  2. #2
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    The regular bi-metal blades in the sawzall will cut it but if there is any good iron there each cut will take a couple blades and about 20 minutes. I would go pay $25 to rent the snap cutter, and if it crushes the pipe only then would I use the saw.

    Donuts are for fitting a pipe into a hub. You won't have any hubs left, so you want to use banded no-hub couplings.

    If the sewer is working, the only liquid left in the pipe will be that that is left in the sludge. Lay plastic sheeting down under your work area and catch running water as best as you can with buckets. If using the saw, it needs to stay above the level of the bottom of the pipe or water can run into the saw.

    The old cast iron has not been cleaned and prepped for the last 90 years, so I doubt it will help much to do it now.

    Make sure you support the new PVC pipe at max 4' intervals to prevent bellies in the pipe.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Just emphasize, use a BANDED COUPLING. Do not use the neoprene sleeve that has just 2 hose clamps. These are not legal for above ground use. The banded coupler will support the pipe joint, but do be sure to provide the 4' supports too.

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    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    Just emphasize, use a BANDED COUPLING. Do not use the neoprene sleeve that has just 2 hose clamps. These are not legal for above ground use. The banded coupler will support the pipe joint, but do be sure to provide the 4' supports too.
    I picked up two of them. First went to lowes, but the couplings were Chinese made, so I went to HD where I found US made couplings. Got the pipes, couplings, fittings, etc., so we are ready to go tomorrow to close it all up. Part of the pipe was encased in concrete, so we had to go to HD and rent a reciprocating hammer to get it out, then the pipe portion that passed through the poured concrete wall had to get hammered out quite a bit. Took a few extra hours to get that all done, and so with dinner plans and other things, we clogged the pipe and called it a day.

    We had rented the cutter from HD. Tried it in an area where the pipe was showing little rust bumps on the outside, and it shattered. On the good section that I couple into, I went slower with the cutter, and we cut and cut, for a LONG time, like hundreds of motions back and forth, and didnt get it cut. I think the cutter was perhaps dull. So I gave up and used a diamond sawzall blade to finish it, and it worked great. Good cut. I was worried about collapsing the pipe on the good section.

    So tomorrow I will finish the PVC and all will be well, I hope...

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; like hundreds of motions back and forth, and didnt get it cut. I think the cutter was perhaps dull.

    That is because the cutter does NOT work by rotating it back and forth. It cuts by pressure, you keep tightening it until the pipe "snaps". The pipe through the wall should have taken about 10 minutes, or less, to remove it. Depending on the schedule of the cast iron, your PVC "might" have gone through the opening without enlarging it.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    quote; like hundreds of motions back and forth, and didnt get it cut. I think the cutter was perhaps dull.

    That is because the cutter does NOT work by rotating it back and forth. It cuts by pressure, you keep tightening it until the pipe "snaps". The pipe through the wall should have taken about 10 minutes, or less, to remove it. Depending on the schedule of the cast iron, your PVC "might" have gone through the opening without enlarging it.
    Ok, well my concern was that it wouldn't snap and rather crush to a jagged end... Then I'd have more trouble. I thought moving around it, like a small tubing cutter would minimize risk. This stuff is old and testing on other unimportant sections did not yield favorable results.

    The pipe was concreted in for a length longer than the wall, and given the space I had to work with on the bell end to strike, I was not getting any motion. A few strategic hits with the cold chisel through the poured concrete allowed me to strike the pipe loose. I was thinking about just pushing through, but wasnt sure if scale would allow, and removing it with a little extra space gives me the chance to backfill with concrete. The gap will be less than an inch when done.

    Thanks!

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    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Ok! I'm finally laying in bed. Tired.

    Probably spent around $125-150 for pipe, solve to, no hub fittings, all US made. Had to make a special trip to HD to get US made no hubs as the Lowes ones were Chinese. Somewhere just under $100 for tool rental, and I did spend around $50 for new shop ac bags and a gore HE filter for it.

    recap:

    So it all started with this leaking water that showed up as a puddle on the basement floor, after taking a long and tortuous path. Yuck.



    Knew about these for a while, but they were getting worse.



    After reading here:

    http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-ad...te-pipes.shtml

    It appears I had both telltale failure types. The vertical risers looked perfect and were both at the far end, and the horizontal part going into e ground also looked perfect. Turned out they were.

    So we took to removing the old pipe. Tried our had with the chain cutter in an area where the pipe was porous like the second picture of bad pipe above, and it imploded. Used it more like a tubing cutter on a section where I needed a butt joint, but didnt want to chance it (didnt snap despite a lot of force), so finished it off with a sawzall with diamond blade. The metal looked good.





    The no hub went on just fine, but the pipe was painted back before we moved in. So I sanded it smooth to just a slight coat of paint.


  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Had used the chain cutter and a sledge to break the rest.







    A well placed blow caused a fracture along the bottom of one section of pipe.



    Turned out that while the top was nice:



    The bottom had eroded very thin, this the rust stalactites.


  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Apparently the pipe was made in Salem, NJ. Likely Salen Brass and Iron Foundry, per this 1916 ad on using cast vs wrought sanitary pipe.

    Old advertisement




    This was interesting to me. A saddle wye. It was "plugged" (not with a metal cap) and concreted in place. Had no idea it was there.



    There was about a three foot concrete length at I needed to demolish, that really took the most time between renting tools, doing the work, cleaning up all the dust, and hammering the pipe free.



    Finally got a clean out busted and smashed. It was tough to get the pipe put of the poured wall, and the new 4" pipe wouldn't have fit inside.



    We have poured walls that make up structural portions of "rooms" in the basement. The pipe went through one of these. Interestingly, after getting out the pipe, we found a lot of unburned coal in there.


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    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Don't think this house ever had coal heat or hot water (my parents' home did, but is a few years older than mine and is also dual set up for electric and gas lights!). I assume it was built in the fall/winter/spring and they had some coal to keep warm. Also found some wood still there in the concrete rubble. No idea why..





    So then we went to put the pipe in. All 4" PVC with no hub couplers on both ends. The other end opposite what I showed above was already cut from an older patch.



    Cemented it all up... Added a clean out in a convenient spot, only laundry standpipe (new) and laundry sink are beyond it, and technically there is still an iron one forward of it at the very end.



    Connection to old porcelain laundry sink:



    And new standpipe just path it for laundry


  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Torqued the no hub couplings to 60 in-lb, and all has been well, knock on wood, so far at both ends.



    All in all probably spent a bit more than 12 hours on it, and my wife a portion of that, but there is a lot of back and forth to HD and LOwes, a lot of Internet searching, etc. I'm guessing still that it would have been a full day job for two plumbers.

    Since Im DoD and furloughed, I could DIY, and save the expense, given the 20% pay cut (no change in workload) for the rest of the fiscal year. My wages were already lower than industry, so its quite the slap in the face given the 50+ hours I would put in typically (now technically illegal to do more than 32). But I guess a new DIY project and the money saved is a good thing that came out of it!

  12. #12
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Fun weekend project eh?

    You are going to have to do a little more work though. The laundry trap is not properly vented. There might be more, but we can't see all of your fixture connections.

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    DIY Junior Member JHZR2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    Fun weekend project eh?

    You are going to have to do a little more work though. The laundry trap is not properly vented. There might be more, but we can't see all of your fixture connections.
    I know it isn't technically properly vented. The laundry sink isn't either and it has worked perfectly for 90 years. Both the laundry sink and standpipe drain perfect. Have run many loads of wash already and it works perfect. Have also taken showers, run dishwasher, flushed toilets, etc., and not seen a siphon that would remove the water in the trap.

    The laundry sink trap is equal or lower than the actual drain pipe, which may help????

    The mistake I made was not having the p-trap arm 2x the diameter of the trap for the laundry standpipe. Looks like I'll need to get one of those reamers to break the PVC glue, and at that point I could install a vertical pipe with an aav, and the trap via sanitary tee into that vertical run straight off the 4" main, hopefully keeping my combo wye to prevent having to re do that.

    So on the topic of vents, there is a stack going up to a toilet, then another that goes upstairs to the kitchen and bathroom, that is at the end of the entire run, which is vented. The stack that just goes to the toilet, and the laundry sink never were vented, and always worked perfect. Without demolishing half of the house, I can't see how one could actually install a vent at all. We would be stuck with those air balancing valves.

    Everything feeds directly into the main 4" pipe. Perhaps is that why it all works perfectly without vent?

    Not looking to get around doing it right, just tryi to understand why the legacy setup has worked perfect for 90 years without vents.
    Last edited by JHZR2; 07-28-2013 at 10:53 PM.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
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    4" pipe is large enough that it has room for air even when water/waste is in the pipe......and that is likely why everything works and always has.

    My 1950 built 2 family house had one vent stack (wet vent) and everything works fine and always has....and none of the fixtures are vented as the would be today....

    I added some venting with one new vent thru the roof... and replaced all the galvanized in most of the house......I still have one bathroom vanity and tub drain to tear out and fix...

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