Broken ABS shower drain... fix suggestions?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Starglow, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Is ABS plumbing biodegradable? What caused this shower trap to break? I can certainly cut it off on the pipe end to replace the trap, but how can I salvage the shower drain flange in this situation without having to bust up the tile to replace it?

    Should I be concerned about other possible unseen cracks in the rest of the ABS waste pipe system? This home was built in 1974.

    Thanks.....!

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2011
  2. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Can I just glue in a coupler to connect the two pieces back together or would that not be an adequate repair? Definitely want to fix this right the first time before the drywall is replaced.
  3. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,172
    Location:
    Maine
    Replace the entire drain assembly
  4. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    That would not be possible without breaking out the floor tile, which I'm not doing unless absolutely necessary. Some day this bathroom will be completely remodeled, but can't do that right now.
  5. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,347
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    That is a cast iron shower drain,you can cut it out and remove the male adapter from the drain and re build it.Use the same materials as what was cut out.New materials.
    Cut out pipe not the drain that is in the tile floor.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  6. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Ok....I think I understand what you''re saying and was thinking the entire assembly was molded ABS and not cast iron. I have a Dremel tool so that should help to carefully cut out the old pipe from the drain. Thanks for the help...! :cool:
  7. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,999
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    A 2" Rambit would remove the pipe from the fitting, thus allowing you to insert new pipe, and a new p-trap.

    I've seen ABS fittings crack and break over time.
    I even had a pair of plastic ski boots that broke in the middle one ski season.
    The ski shop said it was pretty common after a certain number of years had gone by.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,614
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A hacksaw blade would be better for removing the piece of ABS, if it does not unscrew, (which it should), without damaging the cast iron thread, which would cause a MAJOR problem for you. Even a hot screwdriver would be preferable to a Dremel tool.
  9. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    All of the joints look glued in to me and I can't see any threads showing anywhere. There is no inside drain pipe showing either and it looks like the P-trap is just glued on externally to the shower drain housing with a coupler connection.

    Unless I can remove the old pipe and still have something left to attach new pipe on to, then I may end up using an adapter glued to the outer part of the shower drain housing. I saw something like that at the home store this morning that might work.
    I'm not convinced the drain housing is cast iron because the ABS is glued to it which should be a threaded connection if it were cast iron.
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,999
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    You have a cast iron drain that is threaded. It does look glued, however the glue doesn't not bond to metal.
    Our glue cans have glue on the threads, and while it may be tough, we can open them.
    However, if it is too hard to unthread, then like hj mentions, a hack saw blade will work. Plumbers do it all the time. I removed a lot more with hack saw blades then with any other method.
    The Rambit is kind of handy, but the if you can pry the plastic pipe out of the fitting, that's a little cleaner and uses less force.
  11. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Thanks for the help guys. I'm usually good with plumbing, but this one is a pain. Today I cut the old P-trap out and the drain base is definitely cast iron.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I'll see if I can break the coupler loose, but otherwise will use my handy hacksaw that has saved me many times. Don't worry... I won't quit my day job 'cause I know I'd never make a living as a plumber. :D

    [​IMG]
  12. plumber2011

    plumber2011 Expert Plumber

    Messages:
    70
    Location:
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Hi Starglow...

    Just in case you aren't clear here...see my picture below. Be sure to make the parallel cuts into the plastic male threads only...do NOT cut the cast iron strainer threads!

    After you sucessfully remove the old threaded ABS male adapter, be sure to install the new threaded adapter using pipe dope and/or teflon tape, OK...rest should be easy!

    Good luck!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  13. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Thank you plumber2011 for the detailed drawing and instructions. I tried turning it off, but it won't budge, so I'll have to cut it off. Whatever glue or sealer they put on there is pretty tough stuff because I picked at it on the top edge with a small screwdriver hoping to break the bond, but that stuff doesn't come off easily. Being from the 1974 era, I'm sure that stuff probably has things in it known to the state of California to cause cancer, but it worked great for the intended purpose. :)
  14. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Back to the orginal issue..why did it break? There appears to be an offset, so either the building moved, or the pipe was installed under tension, which is never a good thing.
  15. Starglow

    Starglow New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    North Carolina
    That's a good question. There is no tension on the pipe that I can see and there are no pipe straps, but I've never seen a P-trap split completely in half like that so the mystery remains unsolved at this point.
  16. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,172
    Location:
    Maine
    If you look closely it appears that those two ell's are actually a couple street's that someone stuck together and then ran a dauber of glue around. U-bends are alway a one piece injection moulded part, there's no way there was a factory seam there. He probably could have just slipped a mission clamp around the two pieces and been done with it. At this point a 2" Fernco will slide over the drain hub.
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