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Post Cast Iron Stack Issues

1513 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  jagans
Hello, first time home owner with a 1928 craftsman.

This past month I developed some plumbing issues, or to say, my house did.
The original cast iron stack had developed some stalagmites in the expose basement portion of the main stack. I had that section replaced.

I had a number of plumbers quote the job ranging from a full re plumbing of the house with a number of unnecessary extras to a cut and patch job.
I also had the flange that the upstairs toilet sits on replaced should that become relevant.

– Long story short, the stack fills with water before draining completely. I know because there were a few drips and after a week or two of listening and tapping the pipe, I can figure out when it is full or not. In the replaced portion there is a y knock out that I was able to run a power drill operated snake through. I came up with some roots, but was not able to make it to the main sewer line in the road. So, symptoms:
Stack fills with water then drain slowly or “flushes” all at once.
No gurgling or sounds of bubbles escaping any drains or toilets

Slow toilet flush; you need to hold down the handle for a full go at it
Post flush, when the water is on its way down, it sounds as if there is a hollow tube hitting something. I chocked it up to the louder plastic pipe over the cast iron, but it seems relevant.

Also, maybe unrelated buy I snaked a floor drain the waste water discharges into because it was draining slow and pulled out a rag. I do not know if the rag was intentional because you have to remove the floor drain to stuff it in. Now the drain flows freely.

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Post a picture if you can----might be a combination of things----your main drain to the street might be clogged---could be aggravated by a flooded or clogged vent to the roof---
I'm guessing you either have roots outside or a blockage- perhaps construction debris at the base of the stack. I suggest a bigger snake- one thats intended for a mainline- your's is too small for a 4" line.
About the rag- could someone have put it there to keep the main from bubbling out the floor drain?
I agree about the snake. I was checking out a rental but backed away. I’m concerned that the original clay tile might not hold up to a novice with a heavy cutter. If I collapse the pipe I will have a real problem. Do I need to be concerned or are they more hearty then I give them credit?
The rag puzzles me. At first I thought it might have been there for sewer gasses. I’m wondering now if the floor drain goes to the public sewer system at all or if it vents to a storm sewer or something. There is a one or two inch clay tile hole that is below the floor line but above the main drain line in the floor hole. I’m wondering if it is not some kind of drainage from around the foundation?
Im at a loss. Snaked the toilet, vent stack, had a pro snake the main, all the drains from sinks and tub, etc. still just a powerful flush that does not drain all at once. out of ideas
If you have clay pipe going out to the sewer main it is time to have it replaced in its entirety 2012- 1928 = 84. Thats a very long time for clay pipe. The stalactites tell me that the cast pipe was dripping, and has probably been plugged up from time to time over a number of years. Roots will continue to grow back between the joints, and be a constant source of aggravation to you. Replace it.
Clay pipe was a very bad idea even when it was installed many years ago.
Roots can grow right into every joint, they just fall apart over time.
Well, there's a couple options you can go with. One thing that will happen with clay pipe is when it deteriorates, roots penetrate, ground settles even more, etc, the clay pipe wont be at a consistent downward slope. Sometimes you will get big dips in the pipe, joints separated, etc. You can get someone in (or rent yourself) with a snake camera to investigate..typically this is a few hundred dollars, find problem areas and patch fix it. This is will be a little cheaper than a repipe, but only a patch job that may only hold up for a few months or a couple years until more clay pipe deteriorates. I wouldn't suggest this.

Other option is to get a repipe done. Just remember when you get bids from plumbers, ask why certain materials are on their estimates, research their company and the plumber themselves. I would also advise to throw out 10% of the lowest bids aswell-as most people that bid noticeably lower than others typically don't have experience in bidding and will ask you for more money throughout the project, could be a side job for them with low priority, don't know what their overhead is, etc. Money that you "save" on going with a lowest (potentially unlicensed) plumber will be lost if something is done wrong and you need to break up the floors, redig the lawn, etc to fix something. Especially for a job like this, where if done probably only needs to be done once a lifetime.
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I think the Sumerians used clay pipe, or maybe it was the Etruscans, a couple of thousand years ago.

You really need to get rid of it. I am amazed that you still have it, to be honest.
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