question on Oakum

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by harveymasons, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. harveymasons

    harveymasons New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Can someone explain what oakum is and how it is used? Seems like it is used to solder a lead joint?? Is this correct??

    I have a second floor bathroom in which I can see the toilet connections from below as the ceiling of the 1st floor bathroom is exposed.

    Seems like there is a lead pipe running horizontal for about 8 or 9 inches right below 2nd floor toilet which then connects to cast iron vertical pipe that drains out to the street.

    While this connection is very sound w/ no signs of corrosion or leaks is it wise to leave it be or replace while I have the ceiling exposed?? ANd lastly is that oakum that is sealing the lead joint to the cast iron??

    thanks in advance,
    harvey
     
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    oakum

    Oakum is used with lead, not solder. If you used solder in the joint you would crack the cast iron fitting when you attempted to caulk the lead tight. The oakum seals the joint, and the lead seals the oakum and keeps it in place. I would remove the lead bend and replace it with cast iron, but others would go with PVC or ABS.
     
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  4. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2005
    Location:
    Florida
    lead

    hj is right, I would also use cast iron.
    I have seen lead risers, but they were used in the early part of the last century in my neck of the woods. But in all my travels, I have seen very few lead bends.
    I've gotta believe that the brass cl. flange isn't sealed to the lead pipe well anymore.
     
  5. kimikki

    kimikki New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Forgive my ignorance, but when I worked in the log home building field, Oakum was a rope insulation we marketed. It was available in either oiled or dry, whichever the builder preferred. It was useful in repelling insects and in creating an "old" look to log homes.
     
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    I think it is the same stuff...you stuff the joint with it and then seal it in with liquid lead poured with a ladel. I remember seeing my father do this (I've never done it).
     
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I'm pretty sure Jim is correct. Oakum is a caulking material that is tightly packed into cast iron joints then topped with molten lead. It's not really a DIY job. When ship planks were caulked, I think something like pitch or tar was probably used to top it off, but certainly not molten lead.
     
  8. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2005
    Location:
    Florida
    oakum

    Plumbers use oakum and it's jute or hemp that contains oil. I used to think that it smelled of tar, but it may have just been oil.
    And when its packed tight and it gets wet, it swells.
     
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