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amakarevic 06-30-2008 12:58 PM

upstairs bathroom leaking down 4" main
the basement i am renovating has a 4" vertical sewer main coming from the bathroom two floors above. the pipe is cast iron from the bathroom to above 2' below the ceiling, then it joins PVC going into the floor and underground.

the system is broken somewhere upstairs and there is an unsanitary leak, subtle but sure as hell sufficiently annoying. let's say about 2 qt drip down on any given day on average.

the problem in fixing the problem at the root cause is that i have tenants living upstairs and i cannot just ask them to not use their bathroom while i am fixing it over the course of a week or maybe even more, as the floor will need to be torn and who knows what ?

since i like having my tenants and the issue is not bad enough to ask them to leave so i can fix it (the issue is not affecting them), i would like to devise a solution to catch the drippings into a receptacle built around the pipe somehow. this is how i envisioned it and i would appreciate feedback:

i will take out the PVC pipe and take a plastic crate maybe 1x1 or as close as i can get to it and cut a hole in the bottom just big enough to put the 4" pipe through. seal around the opening with plumber's putty or the Real-Tuff dope that i just got some of (which should i use) ? then drill another hole in the bottom of the crate for a release spout and plug a vinyl hose into it, so i can divert it to a nearby outlet or even a bucket for the time being. put the pipe back into place. i can somehow affix the crate to the wall to prevent sliding but that will really not be an issue since the brown water will be releasing through the spout.

yeah, i will fix it at the root as soon as the kids move out.

mstplumber 06-30-2008 02:39 PM

Why not open the ceiling below the problem now and try to fix it without significantly disrupting the tenants? It might be a lot simpler than what you are proposing. If it is a lead joint, sometimes you can just re-caulk the joint with a chisel and get at least temporary relief. At worst you will have to cut out and replace the defective section or joint. That might be doable in a few hours as opposed to a week. It could even be just a wax ring leaking on a toilet, which is about an hour job.

I guess it really depends on when you will be able to access the problem without disturbing the tenants. If you are renovating the basement you are taking a risk in damaging a lot of hard work if your "leak management" system fails.

If you do decide to try to catch the leaking sewage I would use silicone caulk, not "siliconized latex" but 100% silicone caulk, to seal whatever needs sealing. This will need to cure for as long as you can allow it (they recommend 24 hours), so you would need to somehow divert the water during that time. You could probably use duct tape for that short a time frame.

amakarevic 06-30-2008 02:49 PM

thanks. may try to do that. BTW, the toilet upstairs is also kind of wobbly, could that be indicative of anything ?

mstplumber 06-30-2008 02:56 PM

That could be the source of the leak. toilet wobble the wax ring is probably messed up. This could mean that the toilet leaks every time it's flushed.

amakarevic 06-30-2008 03:02 PM

thanks dude !

mstplumber 06-30-2008 03:11 PM

you are welcome.

Alan 06-30-2008 11:58 PM


Originally Posted by mstplumber (Post 134898)
That could be the source of the leak. toilet wobble the wax ring is probably messed up. This could mean that the toilet leaks every time it's flushed.

x2 on this.

Just for clarity, pull the toilet and replace the wax. If the wax has been deformed, tightening the toilet will not fix it.

4just1don 07-01-2008 10:58 AM

Just for verification(cause I am SLOW thinker)you have plastic on the bottom and two floors of cast above that??Maybe plus attic cast. How is that supported up there?? Know how heavy cast is??

I have seen plastic joined to cast (plastic above) and it works,,,cant imagine plastic UNDER cast,,must have had some fancy equipment and jacks supporting that cast while installing plastic,,,its a WONDER the cast doesnt bust the plastic,,,my suggestion,,,at first vacancy up there,open just enough walls to slip in all plastic,,specially IF your redoin a roof anyway!! HOW in the world ,,what is holding all that HEAVY cast up there now??

amakarevic 07-01-2008 12:31 PM

i was thinking the same thing ...

it was the way i bought the house. since i dropped the basement floor and reconfigured DWV plumbing under slab, i actually replaced the PVC pipe from under the cast iron pipe.

at first i speculated that the cast iron monster was supported solely by the PVC pillar but then decided that it, in all likelihood, was not the case. nevertheless, removing it was a huge leap of faith for you can imagine the consequences if my assumption had been wrong.

luckily, i was right. life is full of risks often difficult to avoid. home-improvements certainly has an element of extreme sports.

the cast iron pipe stayed in place, firm as a statue. i guess it is suspended somehow. remember, you cannot judge 100 yr old homes by contemporary standards - quality used to matter ...

JDC 07-01-2008 02:36 PM

Doing commercial plumbing, I often will put in an underground in PVC then have cast iron above floor due to fire codes. As long as proper support is used (riser clamps, strut/clamps, etc) it isnt a problem at all.

Ditto on the wobbly toilet. It needs to be fixed so it doesnt wobble anyway even if you find that ISNT the source of the leak...although I'd bet it is.

Good luck!

amakarevic 07-01-2008 03:16 PM

y'all are my heroes if the wax ring indeed is the culprit.

4just1don 07-01-2008 06:57 PM

You must have been BORN "LUCKY".

"here" is how it would have gone for ME. Remember good old Tim The toolman?? I would ave had the stuff on my head,,,THEN an emergency room run,,,then haveing to go back and fix the roof,walls and half the basement from effects of triple gravity at my house,,,AND my most priceless heirloom antique I have been hoarding for 40 years would be in shambles UNDER the pile of rubble

I bet your lucky enough you can take the bottom 5 feet of brick chimney out of the old house and replace with a tin one

YOU were born 'lucky' I was born "UN"(not even lucky enough to have the word in my name,either imagined or real!!)

Must be enough christmas tree runs off of it up there to hold on to 'something'

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