Cut down sewer cleanout... possible?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by iolaus, Jan 21, 2006.

  1. iolaus

    iolaus New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Hello all,

    I have a sewer cleanout in my basement that is proving to be quite a hazard. It is situated right in a walking path and sticks up about 2" out of the floor. I would like to find a way, without tearing up the entire basement, to sink the cleanout down so it is at least flush with the floor. I believe the pipe is made of cast iron so I really have no idea how to go about such a thing (or if it is even possible). Is there any way to saw or torch off the exposed section of pipe and thread the remaining section so it would accept the cap?

    Any advice would be appreciated,
    Ryan
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    This will / may be quite a project.

    Are you finishing the basement?

    You could spray paint it flourscent green, or yellow, or orange to remind your eyes it is there.

    OR

    make a ramp with beveled 2 X 8s or 10s going all around it.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2006
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    c.o.

    cast iron does not torch or thread, and it takes a fairly large area around the pipe to cut it off. So your project may be outside the normal DIY'ers abilities.
  4. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    The Answer is Below the Concrete

    It is there and you want it gone. The answer is below the concrete. It depends on the piping size and arrangement and the depth to the pipe. You might be able to figure it out by removing the cleanout plug and inspecting from above.

    There are probably code-compliant ways to do it, and other ways that might be as safe but not in the code.

    If you can open the cleanout and find 3 inches of straight pipe beyond the top of the floor, you could probably cut the pipe off flush and use a mechanical test plug that fits inside the pipe and expands with a screw thread. Find the plug before you cut the pipe. http://www.pipeplug.com/hand.htm

    I would modify the plug by taking off the shoulder so it would fit below flush in the remaining pipe, which will probably be cut at an angle.

    You should be able to cut the pipe with an abrasive wheel on an angle grinder and grind it flush with the floor.

    There are probably variations on this theme that will be apparent to you as you are looking at the job. It will be easiest if you can find a way to work inside the pipe to avoid breaking concrete.

    If it comes to breaking concrete, which is not that difficult, you must be careful not to break the iron pipe below where you intend to cut it off.

    If there is enough space below the floor, you could probably break out the concrete and use a no-hub coupling to install a cleanout that would be flush or below flush with the floor.

    I'm sure the master plumbers here will have other and probably better ideas.
  5. iolaus

    iolaus New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Thanks for all the advice everyone!

    To answer your question Cass, I am finishing the basement. Infact, I'm almost done converting it to a home theater (the sewer cleanout being one of the last big projects). In hind sight, I probably should have addressed the cleanout problem much earlier. I had thought about building a ramp as hj suggested but I would like to carpet the floor (currently just vinyl over concrete) and would really prefer to avoid anything sticking above floor level. I think Bob's suggestion is sounding best so far. Can anyone foresee any big problems with cutting off the pipe with an angle grinder and using a mechanical test plug to cap off the unthreaded pipe? There is much more than a few inches (probably two or three feet) of straight pipe below the floor to work with. Would an angle grinder be the best tool to use for cutting the pipe and if so, how difficult do you expect it would be?

    Thanks again for all the great advice,
    Ryan
  6. iolaus

    iolaus New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Could anyone tell me if an internal pipe cutter like this might work? If so, would I have any chance of renting one locally? I probably couldn't justify the $200 price-tag for a one-time use.
  7. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

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    Location:
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    If you cut it off, then what are you going to do?
  8. iolaus

    iolaus New Member

    Messages:
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    Not 100% sure. Would I be able to remove the section of pipe without completely destroying the surrounding concrete? If not, it may simply be more convenient to only cut down flush with the floor as Bob suggested. Either way, I think the mechanical test plug idea proposed by Bob would work to seal the cleanout.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    I'm not a pro, but my choice would be grind it off and plug it with an internally expanding rubber plug.
  10. iolaus

    iolaus New Member

    Messages:
    8
    New Info

    Hey all,

    I got delayed on this project a bit and just now came back to revisit it. While taking a more careful look at the cleanout, I noticed that there is a joint in the cast iron pipe about 3" below the floor. Is there any way I could take advantage of this fact by splitting the pipe at the joint and removing the top section? If so, how would I go about it? Would it be possible to melt the solder used to join the pipes with a torch or maybe use a saw-zal to make vertical cuts down to the joint and remove a wedge at a time?

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated,
    Ryan
  11. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    You can usually drill out some of the lead. You will probably want a long bit so your drill motor will be above the higher piece. You might be able to find a 3/8 bit that is 18" long. If you can cut the lead into small pieces with the drill you can probably pull the pieces out with pliers. Or you might be able to bend something into a hook to pull out the pieces.

    If you break the hub piece you want to keep you will have a lot more work.

    I suspect that you would not be able to put enough heat on it to melt it and the melted lead will not fall out of the joint.

    I saw a 4" expandable plug at Home Depot last week.
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    The 18" drill bits are called aircraft bits. If you drill out as much lead as possible you should be able to melt out what is left with some map gas.
  13. iolaus

    iolaus New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Thanks for the tips guys.

    To do the drilling will I need to have access to the outside of the pipe (aka, will I have to chisel out the concrete around the pipe)?

    Here are a couple of pictures of the problem cleanout just for reference.

    Thanks again,
    Ryan

    Attached Files:

  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    co

    Without doing some exploration, it is hard to tell if you have a no-hub or bell and spigot cast iron system, although the depth of the joint implies bell and spigot with lead joints. I would put papers into the pipe to plug it, and then split the cast iron out of the hub, but I am not sure if that is something you could do without damaging the piece you want to keep.
  15. iolaus

    iolaus New Member

    Messages:
    8
    hj,

    What tools would you use to split the top section of pipe out of the hub?

    Thanks,
    Ryan
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    cut

    A hammer and a chisel.
  17. Robfitter

    Robfitter New Member

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    Location:
    Florida
    If you've got a side grinder with a cutting wheel, I can't see an objection to cutting it off flush; you should also be able to cut it with a soil pipe cutter, though not as close; and lastly, a porta band will cut it, if you can get the blade angle right. The side grinder's easiest, but watch for kickback when you pierce the wall, I've got scars from side grinders. :D
  18. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

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    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Is the c o near the wall?
    Make a box to cover it with and put a small table over it.
    Build a cupboard over it.
  19. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    portaband

    Some castiron will dull the PortaBand blades in about 30 seconds.
  20. Robfitter

    Robfitter New Member

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    Location:
    Florida
    Yeah, partly because of inclusions. It would be hard to get that close to the ground, too. I'd use a grinder, myself, it's fast.
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