"real-world" vintage cast iron pipe cutting?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by zimmee66, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. zimmee66

    zimmee66 New Member

    Des Moines, Iowa
    Hi all!

    Looking for tips and cautions about cutting an 80 year old cast iron riser. I've cut lead risers before (easy!) but have not cut cast iron.

    See pics for details. Riser is 2 inch XH pipe.

    My questions are:

    1) Will an *ordinary (rental)* pipe breaker cut XH-type cast iron or is there a special model for that?

    2) Any risk of a breaker crushing or causing other problems with such corroded pipe (especially in the hands of someone who's never used one!)

    3) can it be cut with a sawzall (and many blades) instead? The advantage I see with this is that because it is so rusty maybe it would be safer. There are also some possible clearance issues with a breaker (water heater in the way).

    I want to stay out of the hub/cleanout and cut about 6 inches above to leave a stub to attach PVC to. I'm hoping for been-there-done-that type advice, worried about things like the pipe shattering and chunks of CI falling into the cleanout T.

    The entire run of CI is about 10 feet, plus a sanitary-T, then it converts to a 1 1/4 inch galvanized vent (just above the kitch sink trap, which is leaded into the T). My plan is to go 2" PVC all the way including a san T and then a little stub off the PVC T to connect a coupling between it and the vent. The riser only serves the sink.


    One last Q about CONNECTING:
    I know the ideal way is probably a rubber donut in the hub after cleaning out the lead, etc. But everything I hear about that sounds like it is a real bear to fit the donut.

    So, I'm going to try a coupling.

    However, it sounds like the coupling I need is special BECAUSE the cast iron is XH. Is that correct?

    Any advice sincerely appreciated!


    Attached Files:

  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    A snap-cutter might just crush rather than snap, it is hard to tell the internal conditions until too late. But, in my unprofessional opinion, if it crushes, it should be replaced anyways. Bi-metal blades, run slow with some lubricant are said to work...cast iron is tough stuff.
  3. Just bust the hubs with a 5lb sledge, take that cast iron out down into the floor and turn up new PVC and not bother leaving that cleanout wye in; replace it with new PVC and be done with it.
  4. zimmee66

    zimmee66 New Member

    Des Moines, Iowa
    into the floor--yikes!

    jadnashua and Rugged---thanks. I know this is a bad deal because our area plumber isnt interested in doing the job.


    I hadnt really thought of going into the floor. I did it once years ago but it is a hell of a job.

    If you're down that far, how do you cut the cleanout wye free? Just dig a little hole around the pipe and wrap a breaker around the pipe in the ground?

    Gives me something to think about though...

  5. More than likely that cast iron goes into clay. Clay can be easily connected to by means of a fernco coupling and with the shape that cast iron is in....it's a good idea.

    Most times concrete goes shallow around the piping; tap on the concrete and it will tell you if it is shallow or thick. Either way you get a better finished product with a working cleanout with no chance of that lower piece of cast iron below the wye failing down the road........which it will.

    A subjective stance I'd take if you was my customer and explained that what's happening above can easily happen below.....do it all now and it's a memory. Piece it in and I'll be back......getting double the wages for the same amount of work.
  6. hi zimme66

    just a reminder, about the weight above it all. To support it. :) Before removing the cast.

  7. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Marin Co. Ca.
    also being a welder I have many tools

    I use a 7" grinder ,use wonder board to catch sparks! Cuts fast
  8. jeffeverde

    jeffeverde Member

    I had a similar riser replaced, and they ended up taking out down to the ground. Every time they tried to cut it with a snap cutter, it broke in shards.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A snap cutter CAN crush the pipe if it has deteriorated
    A SawZall will create vibrations and shake rust loose which will fall down to the elbow at the bottom of the pipe. It is VERY unlikely that the cast iron transitions to clay tile unless the house dates back to the 40's and even then it might be a rare situation.
    At least if you "hit it with a hammer" you will eliminate a lot of options.
  10. magikmn

    magikmn New Member

    We replaced a 12' section of 4" cast iron in our house with PVC, and cutting the cast was the toughest part of the job. We did it amateur style with an angle grinder and worked our way around, but it wasn't a pretty job. Ultimately, we changed our tactic and ultimately used a sawzall with a diamond grit blade. It did fairly well and left a nice, flush joint for the collar.

    As a side note, it does bust up pretty easy with a sledgehammer. We only did this AFTER we disconnected both ends from the system.
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