DIY Sewer Line Repair

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by TrailRunner, Aug 19, 2006.

  1. TrailRunner

    TrailRunner New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Ballwin, MO
    The sewer line that leads from my kitchen stack has a leak. (We have an odor and a slight amount of water between the basement slab and the garage slab.) I'm wonder if this is something I can repair. I have installed gas water heaters, rebuilt my kitchen, rebuilt my bathroom which involved a good amount of demolition, built a deck. If I had a guide of what to do and some help from the forum I think that I could do it. From the kitchen I have 3" (I think) copper coming down, which unions to 3" cast iron, which goes under the floor.

    From what I can imagine, I would have to break the slab around the stack, and follow the pipe until I found the leak. If I'm lucky it might be close to the stack. Then, I'd have to cut out the bad section and replace it with PVC. And, replace the concrete. I know this is a huge simplification.

    Is there a DIY guide out there? Is it a foolish idea to attempt this myself?

    1. Would you break the concrete with a demoliton rotary hammer? A sledge?
    2. How wide an area do you need to break up?
    3. After you find the leak, how much further do you need to go?
    4. What do you cut the pipe with?
    5. What kind of coupler/union do you use to go from cast iron to schedule 40? What kind of glue and primer does schedule 40 need. (I have a good pluming supply house close.)
    6. What kind of coupler/union do you use to go from copper to schedule 40?

    Thanks!

    Dan
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2006
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,896
    Location:
    New England
    My guess is that you can do this, but it is a lot of backbreaking work. Even if you decide to 'just' do the demolition, you'll save a bunch of money, but will suffer some sore muscles. The dust factor would occur in either situation - you doing it or having it done.

    You would probably want to cut the slab with a saw, then tear out the concrete using a demolition hammer and then dig. If you make a hole first big enough to judge the direction, then you can enlarge it as needed to continue. You may want to replace the line all the way to the main sewer...if it has failed in one place, it is probably on its last legs elswhere.

    One of the pros will critique my amatuer thoughts, I'm sure.

    Bottom line, especially if you are going to replace the line, doing the demolition and creating the access is the bigger expense. Actually making the connections is the cheap part. In most places, making a connection to the town's sewer main requires a licensed plumber. If you can make it easy for them to lay a new line, you won't need them for long, and the cost should be tolerable.
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    As an amateur who has been there and done that, I'd suggest either a big rotary hammer or a wet saw for getting through the concrete. I used a dry saw on the recommendation of the big-box rental guy. Big mistake -- you wouldn't believe the dust.
  4. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    Messages:
    551
    Location:
    exurban Chicago
    1. Would you break the concrete with a demoliton rotary hammer? A sledge?
    A. I would use wet saw and 60 pound jackhammer.
    2. How wide an area do you need to break up?
    A. At least a foot.
    3. After you find the leak, how much further do you need to go?
    A. Far enough to get a coupling on.
    4. What do you cut the pipe with?
    A. Copper pipe icut with a Sawzall, cast I use snappers or a grinder with a cutoff wheel.
    5. What kind of coupler/union do you use to go from cast iron to sch. 40?
    A. I use no-hub(also known as shielded couplings)
    What kind of glue and primer does schedule 40 need. (I have a good pluming supply house close.)
    A. Your supply house will tell you.
    6. What kind of coupler/union do you use to go from copper to schedule 40?
    A. Again, use a shielded coupling, they make them specifically for each application, i.e. copper to copper, cast/pvc to copper, cast/pvc to cast/pvc, etc.
  5. TrailRunner

    TrailRunner New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Ballwin, MO
    Sounds good. thanks.

    Dan
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