Connecting to CI P trap in slab/sealing hole

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by SanAntonioDIY, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. SanAntonioDIY

    SanAntonioDIY New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    San Antonio
    I'm renovating a 1960 ranch-style house on slab. I removed the tub to repair termite damage to the alcove and since the tub had previously been refinished but was peeling. The tub is part of an overall plumbing upgrade. When getting estimates for the job I got different input on the tub. (Note: it's a long story why it's a DIY and not being done by professionals. The short versions are A: would not explain bid, B) did not even provide written bid, and C) too busy on other jobs to do mine).

    The tub/shower has a cast iron P-trap under the slab. The trap was soldered to the drain via a short section of flared lead drain pipe. OD is just under 2" of the lead, ID is just under 1.5". The trap doesn't leak and drains clearly. One plumber wanted to jack hammer out the slab and original terrazzo floor and replace the functional CI with PVC all the way to the main stack. A second plumber made no comment and a third plumber suggested trimming off the flare and using a flex Fernco without the shield to connect to the lead and tailpiece. He specifically advised the non-shielded to compensate for the slightly irregular surface. There's a slight kink in the pipe about 3/4 down from the top, but the top is quite round and cut cleanly.

    I went that route using a Fernco 1056-150/125. It fit snugly on both sections of pipe and I was confident that would work. During my rough-in inspection the inspector said it had to be a shielded coupling and wouldn't permit the flex coupling. I found a Mission Rubber T-150 that also appears to fit and is shielded.

    Here are the questions:
    1) How likely is the lead pipe to deform/crush if using the shielded coupling to the 60 in-lb limit?
    2) Assuming it seals correctly, what's the best way to seal the area around the drain?

    For #2, there was a soft/fragile cement/mortar mix around the drain when I removed it for the termite treatment. It wasn't complete and looked like it was added as part of some repair. I've filled the hole with sand to within about 1/2 - 3/4 inch of the bottom of the where the coupling ends. Should this be a thin layer of concrete? I asked the inspector and he said "in the old days they used to use tar" but that was about it. If cement, what sort of mix to make it more frangible for possible future repairs? Add extra water? Or is a 1/2 inch non-reinforced cement layer draped on sand about right?

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  2. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,393
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Hard for me to see what's going on there but I don't like the idea of tighten a gear clamp onto a lead pipe.

    I'd be switching out the P-Trap myself.

    JW
  3. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    Replace the lead line back to the cast iron.

    John
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,811
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    A. I only give you the bid, but I do not "Explain" it, other than to tell you WHAT I will do, but not HOW. B. If there are situations to the job that could cause problems, I won't give an estimate ahead of time. C. That is usually because of some uneasiness between the contractor and customer. D. I remove the lead and connect the drain to the cast iron, but if the trap is not in the correct position, and cannot be made to work, then I would remove the trap and relocate it to the proper position.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,128
    Location:
    New England
    A banded coupler was never made for use on lead (nor is the unbanded one!). You should go back to a point where you can install using the proper pieces which may mean beyond the trap, and if the CI is flakey, all the way back to the main.
  6. SanAntonioDIY

    SanAntonioDIY New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    San Antonio
    I'm sensing a little aggression in your response, or perhaps you've misunderstood what I was asking.

    A) I requested a bid to remove the 50- year old, rusting, galvanized iron water supply lines and replace it with PEX, and to remove/replace a 40 gallon heater that was in a living space with a tankless. The bid came back, in writing, in toto, "Replace galvanized with pex, install tankless water heater. Not responsible for unforeseen problems. $12,000. Valid for 30 days." Bear in mind that this is a gut renovation, single story, no supplies through the slab, and all the walls and the ceiling would be open and plumbing would be exposed. The tub was not part of the estimate nor requested to be. He stated that was what with he'd do with the drain IF I added that to the job. I thought $12,000 was a little high, so I asked, in writing via e-mail to his company address from which I received the bid "Can you tell me the make/model of the water heater you're planning on using? What kind of PEX? Can you break out materials and labor?" I thought these were reasonable questions. Apparently they're not reasonable since he didn't respond to "explain" what I would be getting for $12,000. Maybe that's more explanation than we non-professionals deserve.

    B) So I went to another plumber, recommended by a neighbor who had similar work in her home. He was licensed (I checked), but wanted to work off the books with no permit, only on weekends and evenings, and said it might take a month. I presume he was employed by a plumbing company but didn't want to turn the job over to the company. He offered to charge labor only and set up an account at Ferguson's and I'd pay directly for materials. His verbal estimate for materials, less the heater, was $1000. So I was now really puzzled by the $12,000 bid. $8000 - $9000 in labor only? Assuming a $2000-$3000 tankless heater? Okay.... But, I was not comfortable having an off-the-books, no permit, job done that took a month. His materials estimate was very good though. Uponor PEX and fittings for the entire house came in at about $1100, retail. Not including the Milwaukee tool, of course.

    C) But before I bought the materials myself, I tried yet another plumber. I really didn't want to this myself. Reputable company, uniforms, logos on vehicles, TV ads, the whole shebang. 15 minutes before his first appointment to see the job he called and said "I can't make it, can we re-schedule?" Against my better judgment I say "Sure, but I'll need a quick turn on the estimate since I really want to get this done." "No problem, at most it'll be a day or two..." He shows up at the re-scheduled time, walks through. Sees I've already demo'd most of the sheetrock. Sees the exposed pipes. Says "It's okay if we just abandon the old galvanized in the attic, right?" I say, "Sure, as long as I can insulate around them with blow in, I don't care. But I will need to know the model of the water heater, and what type of PEX and what connection system. I've read there are recalls and problems with some of them. And I'd like a break out of materials and labor." "Sure. No problem. I'll e-mail it tomorrow at the latest. And thanks for giving me the second chance to bid on the job." So I wait. No bid. I call the guy. Voice mail. No response.

    So I give up looking for a professional and research the job. I buy the materials, pull the permits with the city, run the PEX in two weekends by myself, pass the rough in with minor problems that are quick to resolve.

    But -- I had another plumber look at some gas lines since I don't have a thread cutting tool for 1 1/4 iron pipe and I need to upgrade for the heater supply line. He's a licensed master plumber with 30+ years. He could work on the gas, but declined the drain since I didn't have the tub yet and he didn't want to come back for what he viewed as a small job. He also said "you seem to be competent, I'd cut the lead pipe below the flare and use the Fernco. If you can't get a good seal, you can always cut the line later. Opening up a slab seems excessive for what you've got there."

    By the way, you are correct in D, above. The trap is NOT in the correct position to be tied directly to the tailpiece. It's off-center from the tub by about two inches and also off a bit lengthwise. I doubt any no-hub and combination of elbows could make the turn in the space available. So yes, I COULD jackhammer the slab, and remove all the CI, or I could try the approach recommended by the master plumber and approved by the inspector. But before I really committed to that approach I wanted to understand the risks.
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