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Old 11-23-2015, 02:25 PM   #1
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Should I Replace the Cast Iron Drains and Run New Supplies in the Attic?


Hello Everyone,

I'm rehabbing a small house in FLA. The house is mine and I will likely keep it. Water is supplied by the city. Terrazzo floors built in the 50's. I took the old tile shower floor out and the cast iron drain was completely rusted away around the top (I will attach photos tomorrow). The supplies are copper and run under the slab. My plan was to replace the drains all the way to the street and run pex supplies up in the attic. I got a quote of $13,200 from one plumber and a quote of $7,100 from another plumber. Both quotes are for new drains to the road and new pex in the attic. Both want to run the drains out the back of the house and all the way around to the front of the house and to the street, so as not to destroy the floors.

My questions:

If you were me, would you replace the non leaking 65 year old copper?

If you were me, would you replace the 65 year old cast iron drains, or just fix the shower trap?
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Old 11-23-2015, 02:40 PM   #2
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It depends how long you want to keep the house. Assuming you have the budget, if you are planning to stay in the house for fifteen years and the cast iron is from the 50s I would probably replace all the cast iron. The ROI will be better/relative expense will be less than the quote because you'll probably save yourself the costs of dealing with a few leaks over that time. If you are planning to stay for five years I would probably not bother.

That being said, are you sure the waste lines can be redone without tearing through the floor into the slab?
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Old 11-23-2015, 02:58 PM   #3
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When I removed the tile from the shower floor, the only thing under it was a soft sandy mud bed which crumbled and i was left with a hole the size of the shower right down to the dirt underneath. The terrazzo was poured around the shower. Same with the tub - there is no concrete under the tub drain - only dirt. So, I have access to both bathroom drains. I thought I would cut the cast iron back as far as possible and replace tub, shower, toilet, sink drains and vent with pvc. One of the back to back bathrooms is completely gutted.
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Old 11-23-2015, 03:01 PM   #4
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Copper pipes under or in a slab will always leak if it's not already.
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Old 11-23-2015, 03:04 PM   #5
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And thanks for your reply, Tom. You make perfect sense.

I'm gonna run my little camera into the drain and see what I can see. The camera has a 50' cord. The problem is that once I cut the cast iron I will be left without a toilet. So I need to be quick.
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Old 11-23-2015, 03:07 PM   #6
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I know, Joe. I worry about the copper leaking. It's not leaking now, though. I know a lot of people around here who have had leaks. The copper is under the slab in the sand and runs up through the concrete.
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Old 11-23-2015, 06:53 PM   #7
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See if the lines will hold a 5 LB air test. That should answer your question about leaking.
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:26 PM   #8
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Hello Again,

Attached is a photo of the shower trap. The second pic is under the floor of the bathroom. The third pic is the kitchen drain (white pvc) and the laundry drain. The kitchen and laundry are on the opposite end of the house from the bathrooms. The PVC is 1.5". I think the laundry drain is only 1.25". I don't think the laundry will drain properly through that small pipe. And that cast iron is embedded in concrete. I broke my Harbor Freight jack-hammer, so I couldn't finish clearing out around the cast iron. I just can't imagine how a plumber is going to be able to put in a pvc stack in that kitchen wall.

Ghostmaker, how would I put pressure on the copper? Close all the shutoffs?
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Should I Replace the Cast Iron Drains and Run New Supplies in the Attic?-dsc00006.jpg   Should I Replace the Cast Iron Drains and Run New Supplies in the Attic?-dsc00009.jpg   Should I Replace the Cast Iron Drains and Run New Supplies in the Attic?-dsc00005.jpg  
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:01 PM   #9
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Looking at that I would replace all of it from point of entry into the house including waterlines. Repipe it all to current code.

By the way your shower did not have a pan so it all leaked through the floor for years. Concrete is not water proof.

P.S, Get a third price and make sure who ever you hire pulls all permits and has all inspections that are required. If they ask you to pull a permit they are not licensed plumbers and avoid them. Also make sure you draw up a written contract so you have recourse if something go's wrong.

Last edited by Ghostmaker; 11-24-2015 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:20 PM   #10
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I agree, Ghost. Thanks - I think

How will a plumber deal with the stack which is embedded in a concrete wall? Put it in a chase outside the wall?
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:26 PM   #11
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You'll most likely have to frame in for it. I would abandon it and permanently cap both ends.

By the way nows the time to lay out a bath you will enjoy...
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Old 12-03-2015, 03:47 AM   #12
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Hello Again,

I got two more estimates. One was $9000 and another was $15000. So I have estimates of 7100, 9000, 13200, 15000. Quite a spread. I'm not sure what to do.
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