Cracked main drain..advice desperately needed

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Sally1962

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First of all, THANKS in advance to all of you who are so willing to share your expertise. You are angels on earth.

I'm a single mother with no money, decent DIY skills, and an optimistic attitude. I purchased a 1932 fixer-upper bungalow a couple of years ago, and for the first time I've run up against a problem that has me in a panic. I don't know if I can fix it, but have no money to pay someone to do it. The above-floor plumbing in the house is new, but most of the "guts" are original. My kitchen drain has been backing up frequently. The pvc sink drain pipe extends only about 4 feet into the basement, where it connects with the old iron stack (?) going outside the house. Several weeks ago, I had to disconnect the pvc pipe in the basement to get to the clog. I augured out the old pipe and cleaned out the visible gunk and thought all was good. Last night, though, I got another clog. When plunging/auguring didn't work, I went back in the basement, disconnected the pvc pipe again, and augured to no avail. Upon closer inspection, I discovered a crack in the old pipe that connects to the outside drain. I can't imagine that I would have the strength/skill to somehow get the old pipe off to put a new one on, and I have this horrible feeling that the nastiness extends even farther from my house and out into the drain. I've attached pictures to show the layout/extent of the problem.

Am I totally screwed? Or is there anything I can do to salvage the problem? I'd obviously prefer to do it right, not just throw on a band-aid, but if I can't do it myself, a band-aid just might have to do for now.

I deeply appreciate any advice and guidance you can provide.

~Sally
 

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Krow

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My first choice would be to call a proffesional to fix the problem, however, because you stated a lack of money, DUCT TAPE will fix you temporarily, and I mean VERY TEMPORARILY. It will probably buy you enough time to get some money together and possibly find someone that will do it for you at a reasonable cost.
 

Export!

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Looks like that drain is only around 16" below grade which is working in your favour. If you dig down to expose it you run the risk of compromising it if it's in as bad shape as the interior section. If you find buried pipe in decent condition you might be able to fix it halfway decent with a new section back through the wall into the house.

It's scary because you have to wish for the best and possibly open up a can of worms that would require a major dig and major $$$.

I'm not sure if scoping it could accurate assess the condition of the pipe but I'm sure someone much more knowledgeable will chime in.

Please tell me there is no sidewalk/driveway immediately outside that wall.
 

Gary Swart

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Just to put a little rain on your parade, the broken piece is not causing the clogging, but it certainly has to be replaced. To add to the problem, this is cast iron which is not easy stuff for DIY. As others have said, you will have to go through the wall, cut the cast iron pipe, and remove all of the cast back to the PVC, then replace the clean out and connect back up to the cast iron outside with PVC. IF the rest of the pipe is OK, this will not be a super difficult job for a plumber, but the condition of the old cast iron pipe is, at this point at least, unknown. I think another temporary patch might be epoxy. Wire brush the split to remove as much rust as possible, then apply a generous coat of waterproof epoxy, forcing some into the split. This might buy you some time since drains are not under pressure. Maybe some more of the pros will chime in on this. Of course, the pros don't go into temporary patches too much, but they might have some other and possibly better ideas.
 

Cass

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A better temporary solution would be to get some 65 grit sand paper and CAREFULLY sand the iron that on either side of the crack so the iron is bright...then apply some JB Weld and cover everything well...when it is set you can wrap it with duct tape if you wish...do not disturb any of the iron that looks like it would fall out...
 

Sally1962

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Thank you all very much. IANALP, no there is no sidewalk or driveway, so I'd just be digging into dirt but it's waaaaaay too cold to be doing that right now! Some of the guys at work suggested that I buy some pvc pipe and run the drain to the opposite side of the house, where the other water/sewer drain is located, and tap into that pipe. It's a distance of about 40 feet, so I guess that is do-able. This may work until it warms up and I'm able to literally dig a little deeper into the problem (or have saved the money needed to hire a pro :) ).

Thanks again so much for sharing your time and knowledge.

~Sally
 

Export!

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Over 40' you'd need to drop 10" to maintain proper drainage flow. If the entire basement is unfinished and you have a straight shot to another sewer connection at around the same height as the cracked one that might be your best option. You could probably DIY for under $100. Is the kitchen sink the only fixture that drains into that cast pipe with the problems??
 

Sally1962

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Over 40' you'd need to drop 10" to maintain proper drainage flow. If the entire basement is unfinished and you have a straight shot to another sewer connection at around the same height as the cracked one that might be your best option. You could probably DIY for under $100. Is the kitchen sink the only fixture that drains into that cast pipe with the problems??

Yes, the entire basement is unfinished so I have easy access. The kitchen sink (with disposal) and dishwasher are the only fixtures that access the drain.

I think I'll take this approach until I can devote more time and money in the future.

Thanks for your help.
 

Gary Swart

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LOL! Cass, I just couldn't resist a little poke. Sally, the new pipe across the basement may be your best option because of the clogging problem. Even if epoxy and/or tape would make an OK temporary patch, the clogging issue would still be a major issue. I'd suggest that when you are able to tackle the permanent repair that once you can get at the pipe outside and open it up, that you get a camera inspection from the house to the sewer main. If everything is OK, then splicing in some PVC will be a fairly easy and not too expensive fix. but you do have to determine what is causing the clogging.
 
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