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  • Get rid of cast iron?

    Gentlefolks,

    I have a 1905 house that I am remodeling and have the walls opened up enough that I can access the main plumbing stacks. They are cast iron, and original to the house and functional, no leaks. The question: do I replace them even though they still work? They also extend into the basement slab. Do I dig them out of the slab and replace (or lay new ones) as part of the remodel? I won't have this chance again for many years once the walls are closed.

    If I replace them, would any of you choose cast iron again? PVC is kinda noisy at times.

    Thanks,
    Bert

  • #2
    Re: Get rid of cast iron?

    Unless you will be replacing all the cast leave it alone. Else, it will be piece-parts with no-hub fittings all over. Vertical pipes have less chance of rot forming (usually) as long as you dont use chemicals.
    ~~

    ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Get rid of cast iron?

      Inspect it all, and replace what needs to be with no-hub. I had a 05 home that I refurbed. Here 9s the reason I say to inspect it all.

      I found some stacks that looked good until you looked close. Down in the basement I found two stacks that had splits onnthe back side where younwouldn'tmthink to look. I believe the reason is because of settling which caused the risersto lose their support. This was a 3 story with 10.5 ft ceilings on the 1st floor and 10 foot on the second and 12inch floor joists so including the basement the risers were close to 28 feet until they penetrated the basement floor. All that weight over the years and the poor quality of cast iron pipe available back then made these risers candidates for breakage.

      So do what I did. While the walls are open look at all sides of the pipe for cracks. Check for and/or install riser clamps at each floor level to take the load off the pipe below. And replace any piece with new, service weight no-hub pipe and no-hub clamps torqued with a no-hub wrench to the proper torque. Over-torque can distort and cause leaks too, and lead to cracks down the road. Replacing bad sections is not tough. A snap cutter or a grinder with a cutting wheels are two ways to cut the pipe. But be careful of using a snap cutter onnold pipe because ofnthe uneven thickness of the pipe wall it can crush on one side before the other. You are better off using a saw with a metal blade or grinder with 1/16" cutter wheel.

      Make sure you support both sides of a cut from movement side-to-side and from dropping.
      Last edited by Bob D.; 09-03-2013, 08:48 PM.
      ---------------
      Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
      ---------------
      “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
      ---------
      "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
      ---------
      sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Get rid of cast iron?

        Thanks, I'll inspect closely, there are no riser clamps on any floor I believe. If I find any problem I think it is going to be all or none replacement, especially on the main stack where I can dismantle starting at the top and work down. Would you replace with no-hub if redoing the whole stack, or PVC?

        I guess the best way to check the cast in slab is a camera?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Get rid of cast iron?

          It would be money well spent to replace all the cast iron if its in your budget. Its probably near the end of its service life. Verticals can and will split open there seam the entire length of the section. If you have PVC installed you can use fiberglass insulation to deaden the velocity noise of the piping.
          26+6=1

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Get rid of cast iron?

            The cast iron used back then was extra heavy, it will last another 100 years. If it was a newer home like built in the 1980's to present day, then I would be worried and give it an inspection. PVC does transmit the noise of the water flowing, I would never build a house for myself using PVC waste lines.

            If you are truly worried about the condition, an external inspection as well as running a camera through the pipes to do an internal inspection would be best.
            Ron Hasil Lic #058-160417
            A-Archer Sewer & Plumbing specializing in:
            Tankless Water Heaters | Drain and Sewer Cleaning
            Sump and Ejector Pumps | Backflow RPZ Testing

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Get rid of cast iron?

              Replace and install pvc. We're talking about 108 year old pipe.
              Buy cheap, buy twice.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                Not all CI was XH back then. IIRC you had three weights, SVC (Service Weight), XH (Extra Heavy), and XXH (Double Extra Heavy).

                Me personally I like CI and would put no-hub back in there if it were me. Aside from the weight its not difficult to work with and might even have a few advantages over PVC. You can take it apart ump-teen times and use the same fittings and clamps over again. Can't do that with PVC. Forget a branch fitting? No problem to add it in. Got a leak in PVC? Cut it apart and start over. In CI take it apart; fix it; and tighten it back up. Yes it costs more to use CI, but its a better job in my opinion, but I'm a dinosaur. I'd put CI in a new house if I were to build one now, but I am too close to the finish line to do that.
                ---------------
                Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                ---------------
                “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                ---------
                "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                ---------
                sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                  honestly, I've done primarily no hub cast iron in new construction and it does look nice inside and out when new.

                  but from a pure maintenance standpoint, plastic pipe remains spotless and if needed to clean will clean spotless. cast iron/nh is not going to stay clean or become spotless after time. especially with low flow toilets. trust me on this.

                  sure plastic is a louder sounding product, but its not that difficult to properly insulate the wall cavity as needed.

                  my house 21 years ago I did no hub waste and abs vents. if I did it again today, I would stick with all plastic waste and vent. possibly pvc if I could find all the fittings. probably even pex water and forget about copper.

                  rick.
                  phoebe it is

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                    I did a job the other day 4" PVC line full of a slime. Never had a slime issue in cast iron.
                    Ron Hasil Lic #058-160417
                    A-Archer Sewer & Plumbing specializing in:
                    Tankless Water Heaters | Drain and Sewer Cleaning
                    Sump and Ejector Pumps | Backflow RPZ Testing

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                      slime will easily jet clean to expose a perfectly clean pipe. I doubt slime would faire any better in cast iron pipe. unless you can see slime in plastic systems only and not in cast iron installations, then it's a localized problem.

                      metallic pipe is clean when it's new and slowly starts to rust up. it will never be as clean as plastic or clay pipe.

                      rick.
                      phoebe it is

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                        Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
                        Not all CI was XH back then. IIRC you had three weights, SVC (Service Weight), XH (Extra Heavy), and XXH (Double Extra Heavy).

                        Me personally I like CI and would put no-hub back in there if it were me. Aside from the weight its not difficult to work with and might even have a few advantages over PVC. You can take it apart ump-teen times and use the same fittings and clamps over again. Can't do that with PVC. Forget a branch fitting? No problem to add it in. Got a leak in PVC? Cut it apart and start over. In CI take it apart; fix it; and tighten it back up. Yes it costs more to use CI, but its a better job in my opinion, but I'm a dinosaur. I'd put CI in a new house if I were to build one now, but I am too close to the finish line to do that.
                        I am partial to CI too, given that the existing system lasted 108 years. On the other hand, new CI does not have the lead and oakum joints, and the no-hub bands give me pause. I can imagine the rubber becoming brittle over time, and gases seeping out of small cracks in 10 years.

                        The plumbers at a bldg where I work were replacing no-hub CI in bathrooms that was only 15 years old with new no-hub CI. I asked them why, they said that the specs called for new CI. I got the impression the old CI had failed in some manner, didn't make sense they were going to make the same mistakes again.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                          If you really want to get nuts, take a trip over to Chicago. Lead and oakum joints with service weight pipe are still the norm in commercial in the city. All supply houses carry service weight pipe and fittings. Heck I can buy brown oakum and lead at Home Depot here!

                          XH cast iron was the norm in the Chicago area up until the 1970's or so. (I'd lump south bend into the Tri-state area)
                          If you go plastic, go Schedule 40 PVC (white plastic). I'm not a fan of abs. Very brittle as it ages. No supply houses in Chicago even carry abs pipe or fittings.

                          Bottom line: all pipe systems have pros and cons.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                            Originally posted by hochwald View Post
                            I am partial to CI too, given that the existing system lasted 108 years. On the other hand, new CI does not have the lead and oakum joints, and the no-hub bands give me pause. I can imagine the rubber becoming brittle over time, and gases seeping out of small cracks in 10 years.

                            The plumbers at a bldg where I work were replacing no-hub CI in bathrooms that was only 15 years old with new no-hub CI. I asked them why, they said that the specs called for new CI. I got the impression the old CI had failed in some manner, didn't make sense they were going to make the same mistakes again.

                            Those plumbers were just following the print and probably didn't want to lose the labor on the job. Architect probably didn't know the stuff was that new.....that or the meatballs that installed the 15 y/o stuff screwed up (lots of guys get careless with no hub. It's a rubber gasket after all.......

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Get rid of cast iron?

                              Originally posted by Swade Plumbing View Post
                              Those plumbers were just following the print and probably didn't want to lose the labor on the job. Architect probably didn't know the stuff was that new.....that or the meatballs that installed the 15 y/o stuff screwed up (lots of guys get careless with no hub. It's a rubber gasket after all.......
                              I doubt most A/Es would be savy enough to pick up on an installation issue, someone would have to point it out to them.

                              If the contract says all new then all new is what you get, doesn't matter if the 'old' stuff is one year old or fifty. If the
                              contractor doesn't follow the contract as you all know he's in a tight spot. Properly installed there is minimal gasket exposed
                              to effluent, only the thin rib which acts to cushion between the ends of each section of pipe. Misaligned or poorly installed
                              pipe (not fully inserted in clamp, pipe not cut square, etc.) can expose more of the neoprene gasket. I have wondered about
                              the service life of the gaskets too, in 2006 I had the chance to take apart no-hub joints that were over 20 years old from a job
                              I worked in the 80s and the gasket in the clamp looked as good as a new one so I don't know. Be a good question to put to the
                              manufacturer; What is the design life of a No-Hub clamp and gasket? If I knew it I have forgotten what it is, but I would think
                              its designed for at least 25 years. If not who would install them?

                              In my opinion in todays' world because of the time pressure, inexperienced small profit margins, and tight budgets on jobs
                              Lead & oakum is just as (if not more) susceptible to workmanship issues.
                              Last edited by Bob D.; 09-07-2013, 06:32 AM.
                              ---------------
                              Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                              ---------------
                              “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                              ---------
                              "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                              ---------
                              sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                              Comment

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