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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So i have become a guy in a position where I have to fix sewer pipes under the basement floor because we're trying to sell the house and I can't get financing to hire it out. As I'm working through this I'm finding that the way this was constructed is a series of 12 inch sections of clay pipe laid next to each other, no mechanical joint. Just place them and hope for the best. Is this really how houses were built? Is this something that should have been rejected in a plumbing inspection when we bought the house if we had gotten one? How do I tie into this when I find a reasonably good section that isn't blocked?
 

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Yep, that is how DWV's were done. Clay tile will last a long time as long as you do not disturb it or get someone who is reckless with a root cutter.

Hopefully you pulled a permit for the work, have the plans for how you are going to run that. Also keep in mind that you are going to find it going all the way out to the sewer as a 6" line, once it exits the house.

You would be best to work a deal with a small mom & pop plumbing shop that they will be cheaper then what it will cost you to do it by yourself, since you will need to also rent equipment to dig the trench out to the sewer and install a riser for clean out.

I got a quote a couple of years on mine for $1500.00, to pull out all of the clay tile, clean them up, replace the rubber gaskets and put back together. Any damaged sections would be replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, the house has this kind of setup. Going into this, what I knew was there is a cleanout at the floor on the street side of the house, and there's a cleanout at the back of the house where the main stack is located. It's a 1 bathroom single story house with a basement, so all the DWV is in one place.

What was known is that the cleanout on the street side was dry. The sewer line was camera'ed out to the street, and the joints had calcium build up but overall it looked just fine on that side.

There was a known blockage between the street side clean-out and the stack, it was causing the system to back up out of the basement floor drain.

This is my fiancé's house, she needs to fix this before we can put the house on the market. Regrettably she didn't get a plumbing inspection when she bought the house a year and a half ago.

I expected to run into iron, I've got iron pipes under my basement floor which I know from digging a footing pad. The pipe coming out of the floor is iron. I really couldn't make any plans until I knew what I was facing under the floor, and my plan was that I'd get the floor cut and dug out this weekend.

This isn't something I expect to get done cheaper than I can do myself. The 3 quotes I have use different pricing schemes. One is $3250 per day, and they expected 2 days. Another was $2950 for 12'. I've got that much opened up and I'm half way across the basement. The third quote was $950 to start plus $160 per foot.

Damn thing is I don't see that there's much slope to these pipes, I guess it it's just 1" over an 8' distance I might miss it. I haven't run into where the floor drain ties in, if I was doing this I'd lean towards filling in the old drain and putting in a new floor drain. Leaving no floor drain is only an option I'd consider if I was to cut a new hole in the floor for a sump pit, which wouldn't really be in a place where the floor slopes towards it because the floor slopes to the existing floor drain in the middle of the floor - not really a good location for a sump pit.

Anyway, we're not living in this house. I didn't really have a way of planning what would be involved, but I should think that I can get the permit Monday and go through this weekend without burying anything. The question for me is if the existing lateral outside the house can be left as it is and I just replace everything under the basement floor with PVC using the existing slope, including I intended to replace the stack up to the hub below the floor because it has weak spots.
 
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What she puts intoit now, will make it more marketable and move it quicker.

The house next to me needs all new electric from the Rain head to the panel. Also needs plumbing, has a really narrow bath entrance that is around 30".

It has been a really hard sell because of what needs done and that the small bath is a crutch.

Doing the Basement plumbing, means that you get to do a proper drain for laundry, a couple of extra floor drains if needed, guarantee thatthe DWVis good for another 50 years.

In turning you are hoping that she gets a higher offer, since she has improved to make it better then the Comp's that may have the same issues or worse.
 

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It's been many years since I've worked with it but we had problems from tree roots growing into the cracked pipes. You can replace it with pvc pipe and use a no hub connector to tie them together. The pipe would break really easy with a hammer. I think your biggest problem is going to be where to start and stop. If your going to replace it might as well go all the way. I don't claim to be an expert but I have done it a few times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well it was built in 1943, maybe war rationing meant they couldn't get iron and had to improvise.

The cleanout at the front is iron. I think the answer is replace all the clay pipes between the stack at the rear and the cleanout at the front.

My back quit on me after I got most of the floor cuts done. The pipes don't route the way I expected. Zig zaging with a 90 degree bend where it could be a straight run the the cleanout. There is a blockage after the 90 but I think it better to abandon those pipes and put a straight run to the cleanout. And that's going to be done by a plumber with a parental loan.
 

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Well it was built in 1943, maybe war rationing meant they couldn't get iron and had to improvise.

The cleanout at the front is iron. I think the answer is replace all the clay pipes between the stack at the rear and the cleanout at the front.

My back quit on me after I got most of the floor cuts done. The pipes don't route the way I expected. Zig zaging with a 90 degree bend where it could be a straight run the the cleanout. There is a blockage after the 90 but I think it better to abandon those pipes and put a straight run to the cleanout. And that's going to be done by a plumber with a parental loan.
Clay pipe is no longer approved for interior plumbing but is okay at the exterior- except when exposed such as a cleanout. Then you need interior approved material.

Replace it all with sch 40 PVC or ABS- which ever is prevalent in your area
Use 'Proflex' CIxPLA transition couplings at the stack and a fernco clay x CI transition outside the foundation.

I'm curious, is the soil septic at all? Did the joints hold?
 

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Just stumbled across this and noticed that you are located very close to me.

My house was built in 1925 and I have the same clay pipe beneath my basement slab as well. I dealt with it a little bit after the August flood a couple summers ago when I installed a backwater valve.

It is a slippery slope and it is hard to decide where to stop digging after you find your clog. If it were me, I would stop after I find the clog and tie in with new PVC from that point back. The Lowe's at 12 and John R stocks the rubber Fernco's to tie in PVC to clay pipe - Home Depot never seems to have them for some reason.

Also with the flood in recent memory for many people, please consider installing a backwater valve. It will takepretty much zero extra work since everything is already dug up and it will likely be a big selling point.

That is a lot of work - good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Finally back to work and I have a little free time so I put together a quick diagram of the situation. The area in red is where I've got the floor cut and broken away.

Oddly enough, I've seen what you say about the Fernco fittings before that I can find them at Lowes but not Home Depot. But this time I actually did find the fitting at Home Depot.

As I approached the cleanout, my back quit so I didn't finish cutting breaking and removing the floor. But what I did remove was enough to see that the clay pipe did not route in a straight line towards the cleanout, and what I could tell is that beside the fact the routing is just plain bad, there are at least 2 joints where dirt has formed a blockage around 2- 3' after the last piece of exposed pipe.

I've had 4 plumbers out, 2 only looked before I opened up, the other 2 are putting together proposals.

The existence of an iron pipe next to the clay is throwing them off. They both kept referring to it (the clay) as a storm drain. I don't have any doubt whatsoever that the clay was sanitary drain, not storm drain, because I stick a hose down the cleanout at the bottom of the stack, it comes out where the clay pipe was.

I don't care about the storm system because whatever it is, the location is somewhere other than the cut away floor and it should be untouched. I just need to fix the sanitary system and get the house sold.

I don't really care about the iron pipe either. I say put in a new floor drain or whatever it takes at a new location nearby and fill in the old, run the utility sink into the stack above the floor and abandon the old iron pipe, abandon any clay left under the floor and route new PVC directly to the cleanout (which is iron) and tie in at that point. New PVC stack to replace the corroded iron stack.

The backwater valve on the floor drain is probably prudent.

It was suggested I should put in a new utility sink. The old one is concrete.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Clay pipe is no longer approved for interior plumbing but is okay at the exterior- except when exposed such as a cleanout. Then you need interior approved material.

Replace it all with sch 40 PVC or ABS- which ever is prevalent in your area
Use 'Proflex' CIxPLA transition couplings at the stack and a fernco clay x CI transition outside the foundation.

I'm curious, is the soil septic at all? Did the joints hold?
I'm not too certain about the terminology behind the question about if the soil is septic. I did some searching, so if I'm interpreting wrong let me know, but I take it you're asking if the soil is suitable for allowing wastewater to drain as it would have to if a septic tile system had been installed in it?

If that's the correct interpretation I'm pretty sure the soil is not septic. My area has a clay base I believe that isn't that far beneath the surface. Also along those lines, I did most of my cutting and excavating on Saturday, I used a gas powered concrete saw so I could keep the blade water cooled to reduce dust and work better, so all the water went into the open pipes or ground. It's still pooled in the floor openings to this day.

As to did the joints hold, I'm going to say no. When I found the 90 degree elbow on the street side of the center wall, it was placed with an uneven gap to the next pipe, the gap being about 1" at its widest point. This is the first joint that I found where the pipe was filled at least half way full of dirt, and it seemed like it was probably the same in at least a couple more joints downstream.
 

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Do not keep pushing your back. Mine takes about five minutes of standing, before I have to sit down, because I pushed it too far from picking up and moving stuff that was heavy.

You can pull a sample and take it to the local Public Health and they can test. If you leave it open for a while, keep in mind that anything in the dirt like mold, fungi, etc will become airborne. I would place plastic over and roll some bricks up on the edges to make a seal, until you can get down there to work if your back will hold out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Probably a good point, although the system was mostly dried out from sitting unused for about 8 months before I opened it up and most of the water is from the cutting operation. Hopefully it's a little less of a risk than it would be in a normal lived-in house.

At this point, my fiancé has an offer from her parents that they'll pay for it and she can pay them back once the house sells. I'm just waiting to get the proposals back and we'll turn somebody on and have the job done by the end of the week. I was told that the work I've done will cut a thousand or two off the cost.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Here's some pics, mostly of how far I got
 

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I would caution you against abandoning the clay. I would still tie it in because you never know what is upstream.
It was common for old homes around us for the gutter downspouts to empty into clay drain tile, which ran beneath the house and tied into the lateral sewer line. I have worked on a couple old homes in Huntington Woods that had a cast iron sanitary line, and a clay storm water line, each with their own separate cleanout where they exit the home. It sounds like that may be how this home was originally configured.

If that is indeed the case, I would still consider the possibility of water entering that clay drain line somewhere upstream of where you are working (even if the downspouts now kick out away from the home). If any water finds its way in there by seeping in through the joints or whatever, now it will run down the point where you abandon it and it will have nowhere to go.

I know you are planning to sell the house soon but I would hate to see anything done that could create issues for the next guy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well on a previous Royal Oak house I went through some q and a with the building department supervisor and they will disallow connection of storm systems to sanitary systems on any permit work that the connection is worked on so if I understand, any connections of storm drain system to sanitary would be disallowed and not grandfathered.
 
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