Cast Iron, Lead Drain, & Brass Ferrule How-To

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Zach, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. Zach

    Zach New Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    I wanted to extend a thanks to everyone on the forum for providing me with some valuable advice.

    Last year, I purchased a 1928 house with all original plumbing. Without getting into too much boring detail, I decided to remove a couple of lead drains from a 2nd floor half bath. The lead was connected to a brass ferrule with a wiped joint. I decided to cut off the lead just before the ferrule, and melt off the rest, leaving the ferrule attached to the cast iron hub. From there, I used a no-hub coupling to connect to pvc for my drain. I'm keeping all of the cast iron intact, since it seems to be in great shape.

    I had a basic idea of what I needed to do, but wasn't sure what all of the parts actually looked like (i.e. the length and diameter of the brass ferrule, which was hidden between a couple pounds of lead.)

    I wanted to post a few pictures of the process to help out any others like me who are new to DIY plumbing and need a hand with their old CI pipes and lead drains.

    Before: lead drain leading to brass ferrule, in cast iron hub

    I cut off the lead drain using a reciprocating saw. I just picked a spot, about 5 inches from the CI hub. The edge of the lead is chewed up from me trying to locate the brass ferrule under all that lead. It turns out, I was only about 3/4" away from it.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2006
  2. Zach

    Zach New Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Next, I prepped the area. It was pretty close quarters, so I used a fireproof blanket to protect the wall behind the pipe. Next, I laid a couple of towels under the ferrule. I spritzed everything down with a spray bottle, just to keep any sparks from igniting anything.

    The rest is just patience. Fire up the torch. I used a thin tip -- the same one I use for sweating copper. Aim at the joint, and use a painters tool or similar, to scrape the lead off. It turns out, I could get most of it off just by letting it melt and run off the side of the ferrule, and onto the towel below.

    After getting off most of the lead, I continued to heat the ferrule, and wiped the brass clean with another towel in a gloved hand.

    Below is what I ended up with. You can see the fire blanket in the top of th epic, and the lead-covered towels in the bottom.

    There was still some lead protruding from the brass ferrule. A reciprocating saw took easilly care of this.

    Another angle:

    Finally, hook up the new PVC drain with a no-hub coupling. In this case, I'm using a 2" -> 1 1/2" reducing coupling.

    Just another note: Be very careful when using a torch to melt lead. A torch can ignite wooden studs, fiberglass insulation backing, and your clothing very quickly. Also, it likely wasn't needed, in addition to eye protection and long sleeve cotton clothing, I used a lead vapor approved respirator. Lead shouldn't vaporize until > 1000*F, but I didn't want to take any chances.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2006
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  4. zimmee66

    zimmee66 New Member

    Feb 28, 2005
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Wow--excellent summary

    I've been avoiding this task for quite awhile--but this is an excellent summary. thanks!
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