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  • cast iron, should i replace or repair?

    BACKGROUND: My mother lives in an older house with cast iron drain pipes. The house has two bathrooms with toilet, sink an tub, There are also a kitchen sink and washer connected. The 4" CI main starts at the washer in the back of the house, runs toward the front of the house to where the kitchen sink connects, then continues toward the front of the house where it comes to a "T". Each bathroom connects to this "T" through its own 4" CI. Bath 1 is capped off and the main exits the foundation at bath 2.

    PROBLEM: the problem is that the kitchen sink drains VERY slowly, and neither bathroom sink drains. However, the washer drains, both toilets flush, and both tubs drain (although a little slow). P-traps directly under sinks have been replaced.

    QUESTIONS:
    1. Am I correct in assuming that the main line is clear enough to use?
    2. If so, what is the best way to go from pvc to CI?
    3. Since the pipes are old, how high is the risk of causing a leak/break by cutting, etc the CI pipe? Best cutting method?
    4. Of course cost and timeliness are considerations, as well as reliability, along with the fact it will be myself and maybe one other person doing this, but would I be better served to prefab everything I can in pvc and try to replace the main and all connecting pipes?

    * I do irrigation work on a golf course so I'm experienced with pvc and basic plumbing. ( Crossing my fingers that helps some!)

    Any suggestions or insights would be greatly appreciated!

    Ace

  • #2
    Re: cast iron, should i replace or repair?

    Unless there is an actual problem with the CI drain material or it has sag or split or leaking in a joint, (an all these conditions are repairable) It sounds like to me you need to clean (or have cleaned) the kitchen line and the bath room sink lines (tubs may need the trap replaced if it a drum trap).

    and your statement was,
    PROBLEM: the problem is that the kitchen sink drains VERY slowly, and neither bathroom sink drains. However, the washer drains, both toilets flush, and both tubs drain (although a little slow). P-traps directly under sinks have been replaced.
    I am give the impression you want the old out not necessarily that it may be defective but because it is old, PVC clogs too,

    But with out pictures or seeing the pipes and the actual set up no one on the internet can tell you to replace or to repair, but what you have said is you have a stopped up/ slow running drains and it needs some attention, now to say why there stopped up, I do not know, (In my house it is a plumbing night mare, all retro pluming there are only two vents (neither where they should be) and much old galvanized pipe many flat runs, and ever few years I will have the kitchen sink get slow and it will need to snaked out, takes about 15 to 20 Min's as some times it hard to get around the 90 elbow, but after that it will run good for 3 to 10 years, I think I have done it about 3 times in the last 20+ years I have been in this house as an adult.

    My recommendation is to hire a good experienced, honest plumber, to come and snake the lines and take a look over of the over all condition of the drains and have him give you a honest first hand opinion, (jsut because some thing is old does not mean it is bad), Cast Iron DWV is still the Cadillac of pipe. and is required in many commercial buildings.
    http://www.cispi.org/residential.htm

    as to answer your questions,

    a number of ways to cut the pipe, grinder with a cut off blades, some use big abrasive blades, on a large saw, there is a snap cutter, but on old work it may crush the pipe, there are blades in reciprocating saws , many times cast iron has very hard spots in it, and will take out a normal metal cutting blade in a hurry, some use carbide or other grits to cut,

    There are special rubber couplings that will adapt to the plastic to the CI pipe, and for indoor use there is a stainless steel collar on them.

    jarring or moving a oakum and leaded in joint will more than likely make it leak, so a cutting method that has the least vibration and movement on the pipe. (not that the joint cant be fixed).

    I have no idea on how much can be prefab ed and set into place with out seeing it. and even with a picturem to prefab some thing and make it fit can be two diffrnet things.

    now if you start in on it if there are items that are not currently up to code that should be brought up to code, and some of the reason why the cast iron is clogged may be that it was not installed as well as it should have been, or improperly installed, and just to copy what was there may or may not "fix" the problems, with out the knowledge of the code and the proper way to complete the tasks.


    Like I said before unless there are some actual problems getting it properly cleaned, may give you years of additional service. and like I suggested find a good knowledgeable and honest plumber, (ask your friends and relatives, and your contractors you work with and or your clients, and I am sure you will find some one that will come well recommended, if you do have to resort to the yellow pages check with your local BBB and ask plenty of questions).
    Last edited by BHD; 12-03-2007, 04:46 PM.
    Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
    attributed to Samuel Johnson
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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    • #3
      Re: cast iron, should i replace or repair?

      BHD, Thanks for your re and suggestions.

      This stuff is old and has been clogged or clogging for some time now.
      Dont expect easy fix which is the reason for mentioning possible total replacement. I also agree with your comment on prefabing and fitting, but i would almost have to if i want to do the job without mom having to move out for a week!

      That said, I have no problem leaving the CI if it is usable, I would actually prefer to leave it. It seems that tying new pvc to existing CI is more commonplace than i realized, and there are a variety of ways to do so ( no hub bands, fernco products,etc) to meet the specific job. Also should i cause a leak in a joint it can be repacked with quicrete water stop right?

      If i decide to hire a plumber, what can they do to clean the pipes? I am trying to DIY to save her that cost.

      I understand each situation is unique and giving advice without seeing the layout, etc is difficult.....thank you for your taking time to try to help... every little bit helps!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: cast iron, should i replace or repair?

        A good Drain cleaning person will have a verity of machines or equipment to properly clear and clean many different sizes of lines/pipes, most will have a number of powered snakes, they may range from,
        there are units that are basically drilled powered, and there good for opening a small line, with a clog, more for the traps and the lines under the sink, may or may not be enough to open up larger lines,
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K-39AF or
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K40-Sink-Machine
        There are larger machines will have a variety of tools some are "C" shaped and will scour the insides of the pipe down removing build up, there are spring type open ended some are straight and some are flared, they will retrieve items and usually pull out bunches of hair,
        similar to these units, see picture below,
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K400-Drain-Cleaning-Machine
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K3800-Drum-Machine (the more pro machine of the two)

        but each machine is basically sized to a few lines, a lot of it by the size of the cable, (if you use to light of a cable in a large pipe it may flip over on it self and basically knot it self making impossible to remove,

        and IMO the manufactures stretch the capabilities on the larger end of the size of pipe it will do, as the K400 and k3800 are not really good machines for 4" and and can be iffy on 3", unless it is a very soft blockage, on the 4" and larger pipes the bigger machines are usually needed.
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K750-Drum-Machine or
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K7500-Drum-Machine the more pro of the two,

        there are also sectional machines, and they are basically a power head, and then sections of cable are fed through them adding a additional cable as needed,
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K50-Drain-Machine
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K60-Drain-Machine

        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/Drain-Maintenance/index.htm

        each type of machine has it pros and cons, and the sizes it will do or work on the best,
        you will need different sizes of cables depending on the size of line your working in.
        not that it is rocket science, but there is a feel for running the machines and working a stoppage, and there is hazards for example if things get caught up, and the cable flips, it can take fingers.



        see post, http://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13274 for more, not all cutters are made for all sizes, of pipe, but a good service plumber should have the equipment to open and to clean the pipes right and should be able to guide you as to if there is a need for any repairs.

        there are also jetters, that can be ran, they are basically a special high pressure washer made for washing the insides of drain pipes,

        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/KJ1750-Water-Jetter
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/KJ2200-Water-Jetter
        http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/KJ3000-Water-Jetter



        my guess is on the bath room sinks is there are hair and soap scum clogs, and on the bath tubs, (like I said I would check for drum traps, very hard to impossible to snake through one and have them replaced. I was told when I first started in construction, that the reason for drum traps is that they would not evaporate out when people only bathed once a week or month, the "Saturday night bath").

        And jsut for the record, I have worked more in construction and waste treatment than service plumbing, but it did not look like you were getting to many responces so I thought I would give you my 2 cents
        Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
        attributed to Samuel Johnson
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: cast iron, should i replace or repair?

          An advantage to hiring a plumber would be to evaluate your plumbing. After he has cleaned your lines and run a camera through them he may tell you you have many years left before they need to be replaced. If you are trying to save some money you may want to have him just address the worst drain first and see how it works when he's done. If all it needed was a good cleaning you won't even need to run a camera.

          Mark
          "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

          I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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