We own a rental property, built in 1950 so some of the systems are
nearing the end of their life expectancy. For example, the waste
stack in the basement is seeping a little bit, so it needs to be
replaced. My question is, what should it be replaced with, cast iron
or plastic, and what should I expect to pay for this? How big of a
hole needs to be cut into the basement floor?
I guess I do not understand what is weeping. Cast iron is not
past its prime in 50 years. Cast iron can have problems, usually
caused by chemical drain cleaners and mineral deposits. You or a
good plumber would need to decide what is going on with your cast
iron. It may need a small section replaced.
Both for repair and replacement, I think any plumber will
recommend pvc. It is faster, quicker, cheaper, and easier. Cast
iron is still used, especially in commercial and high end work.
It can be argued that it is quieter, but you will pay a premium
for its use.
(top posted for your convenience)
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
Cast iron can exhibit corrosion before its usual
100 yr service life. It's primarily due to
silicon particles in the iron (not a chemist).
The result is a "porous" pipe.
PVC can be used as a repair section (if allowed
by the city). Note that the entire stack weight
must be supported securely while the bad parts
If the section going into the floor isn't too
badly damaged, it may be possible to avoid digging.
The waste pipe itself is weeping moisture. its in the basement, and
from the ceiling to the floor there are weeps and solidified weeps
that are all up and down the pipe.
Can the whole waste line pipe in the whole home be replaced? Or
should you only replace what is exposed in the basement?
It is much more likely that the streaking is due to condensation rather than
leakage from within the pipe. Another possibility is a joint leak or wax
ring leak somewhere up high that is simply running down the outside of the
pipe. I think it is extremely unlikely that your cast iron stack has become
porous. I really don't think it is even possible.
Something similar happened to me a few years ago, although (a) it was
the upper part of the cast iron stack that was most affected, and (b)
it was 75 years old. However, yes it was rusted out from the inside
and basically it was time to replace the stack. I sprung to have new
cast iron put in up to the level of the highest fixture (pvc above
that) for the soundproofing issue. Basically, so if the toilet was
flushed or tub drained upstairs, it wasn't obtrusively obvious
downstairs. In my opinion the difference between iron and pvc is
significant in that regard. My advice would be:
1. Do some more diagnosis. Where is it leaking from? Could be a bad
joint, or might even be condensation. It's actually a little young to
be corroded through. Try to find the highest point that is wet. Poke
it with something -- can you poke a hole in the pipe? If the pipe is
sound but there's a bad joint you might be able to solve it with caulk
or epoxy or something.
2. If the pipe is indeed bad, consider using cast iron for the above
mentioned reason. On the other hand if it's a one story house and the
basement is unfinished then soundproofing might not be a big issue.
We got wildly varying estimates from plumbers for doing the cast iron
-- but found someone to do it for a perfectly reasonable price in the
I think it was about $1200 to run cast iron from the basement floor to
the floor of the second floor (actually just below it, where the toilet
connected). So about 16 ft. of 4 inch pipe installed. They used the
time honored oakum and lead method for the joints. I did all the
plaster repair myself afterward. I had gotten one bid of almost
$10,000 for the same job! I think that outfit just didn't want to work
with cast iron. -- H
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