cutting into cast iron waste stack

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I've got a plumber (who I really trust) coming out tomorrow to temporarily cut into one of my main cast iron waste stacks. Reason: there is a crack in the foundation right behind the stack that is going to be treated tomorrow with epoxy injection -- and the stack is in the way.
Once the crack in the foundation has been treated, the plumber is going to replace the cut-out section of cast iron pipe with PVC.
My worries: the waste stack runs all the way up to the 2nd floor (and out the roof through the attic, so technically through to the 3rd floor). Everything I read says you MUST support the stack when making a cut like this.
I asked my plumber (very reputable company and he has done alot of work in this house for me -- all of which has been good) if he would need to support the pipe before making the cut. He said "no" -- but if when he began to cut he though it needed it, he would support it from below (in the basement, where he'll be cutting).
I am worried about this. It's a beautiful 1930s Tudor-revival era brick & mortar home -- built like a tank -- and I don't want to have all kinds of damage to the plumbing connections in the walls that connect to this waste stack when it gets cut (I hesitated even doing this, but the crack in the foundation is something that appears to have needed attention for a long time -- it gets water, although I've fixed most of that problem from the outside).
Help. What do I tell my plumber? Do I insist that he install a brace? Does it need to be a permanent brace? I can't imagine how tying in PVC w/neoprene gaskets is going to support the weight of this stack. How does this work? Should I be worried -- or trust this guy (who has 40 years of experience in this area, working on these types of homes)?
Thanks for any guidance you can provide!
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

It should be supported. Unless the plumber can prove that he has X- ray vision like Superman, there's no way he can tell if the original construction was built correctly, where the existing supports are, what the condition of the concealed joints is, etc.
It should be supported.
It is not a big deal to support a stack and there are a number of ways to do it. Ask him to do you a _really_ big favor and support the stack before he cut's it. Just keep saying, "I'd really prefer if you would." Whatever he replies, if it is not a yes, keep saying "I'd really prefer if you would." until you get a yes.
R
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Thank you -- yes, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to ask him to support it before he cuts anything -- if he refuses (which I'm sure he won't), I'll cancel the whole thing.
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On Mar 25, 8:37 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Absoulutly brace this or find a new plumber
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On Mar 25, 7:30 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

He is likely planning to support the stack but doesn't feel like it should be necessary to explain or defend the way he does the job. I often find it to be a waste of time to explain every move I make on a job.
I will turn down a job if the customer acts like they want to be involved in every detail or if they seem to think they are more knowledgeable than I am. Here is what I say: "I don't want the job". Then I leave without wasting any more of my time. This happened to me recently.
Best to tell him you want it supported if you are worried but just say it once and don't try to supervise this guy if you respect him.
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This is not a matter that I would settle for just saying "I want it supported" I want an answer from him that it _will_ be supported. I don't need an explanation, just that simple little thing. If he isn't willing to say it (and do it) the door is over there.
Harry K
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You can't be more fair than that.
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Lawrence writes:

So I suppose specifications and drawings are not for you? You just wing it?
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Brace the hell out of cast!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cast iron is brittle and cracking is too common. the total weight is in excess of 500 #s and the potential leaks include the roof (a soft lead sheild aove the roof line can and will fracture). There are special collars for such bracing, don't let him cheap out and attempt to use iron or copper straps. Also assure that this so-called 'professional' uses the correct snap cutter. any other method could introduce vibration which could disturb the oakum packing originally used (if this is hubbed cast iron).
BTW ask to see a copy of the guys license as a plumber. Bet he is not licensed or he would not be having this argument.
On Mar 25, 8:30 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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I will tell him I want it permanently braced. He works for one of the largest plumbing firms in this city; the firm is known for being one of the most reliable (and therefore e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e: this is going to cost me $900) and professional plumbing outifts around. Top-notch guy, top-notch work (so far). In fact, everyone in the company has been great. I just wonder if it should be braced in the attic AND in the basement -- or if just the basement will suffice. If you brace it from below, what does the brace attach to? Floorboards above? The ceiling in the basement is one of those plaster-finished ones -- actually looks more like a skim coat of cement -- so he'd have to cut that away to get at any joists. There is a masonry wall and a steel beam nearby...
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On Mar 25, 9:47 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I think I'd question the guys doing the epoxy injection in your walls. $900 is big money. I cant understand how a 4 inch pipe can be that much in the way. It's not a wall, just a small obstacle. I would not remove the pipe at all. If you MUST remove it, I'd replace it with cast iron, not pvc. Yes, it definately needs to be braced and in several spots or it could crash down, or at least it will begin to creep down over the years.
I used to work for a plumber. Although I was not licensed, I was his assistant. I saw an entire stack crash into the basement and it was a catastraphy. He got this job where the pipes were completely plugged and two very elderly women lived there. They dumped cans and cans of chemicals down the drain, including strong acids. When the pipes would not unclog, they left them for several years and used the neighbors bathroom and tossed the dish water out the windows. When one of them died, the other was forced to sell the place, and it was in real poor condition. When we went there, the plumber I worked for was trying to wrench off a long section of 1 1/2" galvanized pipe from the stack. Little did he know how much damage the acids had done to the pipes including the cast iron stack. The entire stack broke off, and all the pipes throughout the house snapped. Both of us were nearly killed, and the black gunk splashed all over us, and the acids caused severe burns on us. In fact we both ended up stripping down to our underwear and used a hose in the basement to drench ourselves to remove this gunk. We boith ended up going home immediately to take baths and left the job wrapped in some drapes from the house. My worst damage was to my eyes and I ended up going to the hospital after going home and showering.
It turned out every pipe below the highest fixture looked like a screen from the acids pitting it. The stack snapped off in the attic and the upper part just hung from the roof. We ended up ripping out all the walls from the basement thru the 1st and 2nd floors and replaced everything all the way to the roof, except for the top 3 feet of cast that exited thru the roof, which we spliced into because neither of us wanted to mess with the flashing, which would have likely meant dealing with bad shingles etc. We put silicone caulk around the pipe and shoved it up a few inches into the flashing.
I was never so happy to leave any job as that one.
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HammerBammer wrote:

I vote this as Horror Story Post of the Month. Do I have a second...?
R
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Totally believable. You have my vote.
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Hi everyone. Thanks for all the replies. I'm happy to report that the work is done. Plumber braced the pipe with masonry anchors and strapping (stack runs vertical up against masonry wall -- no studs in basement). Pipe never moved a hair. PVC and neoprene gaskets with clamps now in place. He was more than happy to brace it for me -- although he told me once again it wouldn't have moved at all even without the bracing (because he believes it is braced properly on every level -- plus it has 3 horizontal wyes (1 for sink, 1 for toilet, 1 for tub) that are braced against/in floor joists. I'll keep an eye out for leaks -- but everything seems OK.
*whew!*
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wrote:

I'm still troubled that he used PVC for the replacement instead of CI.
--
Peace,
BobJ



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wrote:

Riser clamp on the pipe. Without seeing the exact situation there more than 100 ways to support the clamp.
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I'm not sure that can be done -- the pipe runs vertical up against the poured foundation wall -- no studs on either side (it's not a finished basement). Perhaps it needs to be supported from up in the attic? These homes were built like tanks, so I'm assuming he thinks it is supported on every level -- but I don't know that for sure...
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On Sun, 25 Mar 2007 17:39:12 -0800, "Eigenvector"

I see your point, but although I trusted my father, I might want to express concern before he attempted to shoot an apple off the top of my head. And maybe even to know what his plan was.
I'm not so good at dealing with people. That's why I like DIY and why I like stores like HD where there are no clerks insisting on helping you. So I don't khow how to handle this, but it seems normal to be worried about something that can do so much damage.
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wrote:

No no no, that wasn't really my question.
The original post was phrased in such a way as to suggest that this person has done business with this plumber and was totally satisfied, now for some reason he's questioning basic stuff.
If you read it, it's like "Yeah so this guy has done business with me for 40 years, took a bayonet for me in Nam, saved my child from a burning wreck, and is my child's godfather. But I'm not sure, is it okay to use a plunger to unclog a toilet? That seems dangerous to me. I'm not sure I trust him."
Seems like the "trust" part of the relationship has already been established. Someone else commented about how its possible the plumber simply didn't mention what he was going to do because it wasn't worthy of mention.
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I've only know this plumber for 4 months (that's how long I've been in the house). He has replaced (2) toilets, some shower fixtures, and helped me out of a jam (cutting brass nipples when replacing a faucet = not good). He's BEEN a plumber for 40 years -- I haven't known him that long. He's a reputable guy working for a reputable company. When he quoted me the price to do the work a few weeks back ($900 -- the company is perhaps the best-known in this city), I asked him specifically "Will you need to brace it?" He said, "No -- not necessary". He didn't elaborate other than to say as soon as he began cutting he'd know if it was going to move -- and then he would brace it. I'm assuming he thinks it is braced on every level -- which it probably is because this house was built in 1930 by German Catholics who really knew what the heck they were doing -- far better work than you'd ever find today.
The reason I'm questioning him is because EVERYTHING I've read on the subject says you must brace cast iron pipe before cutting into it. Nothing I've read tells me whether or not it was common to brace it during construction.
I've decided I am going to tell him for my own peace of mind to please brace it permanently before cutting.
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