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!
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.
On Mar 25, 7:30 pm, email@example.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
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.
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.
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
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
On Mar 25, 9:47 pm, email@example.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.
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.
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...
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.
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
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
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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