leak from second floor dripping in basement

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Old 12-05-12, 02:44 PM
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Question leak from second floor dripping in basement

My trusted plumber will be here in a few days. Meantime I am using the downstairs half bathroom. Just wondering how this might be fixed without ripping walls or floors out, if possible.

I was in the basement and water was dripping from the pipes / shaft that goes up to the second floor bathroom. My testing by turning on bathroom fixtures a few hours apart shows that if I use water in the sink or flush the toilet, water drips in the basement. I closed the stopper on the sink and tested without water exiting the sink, and there is no drip. So I have the dripping when water exits the sink or toilet (and I assume the bathtub).

How do plumbers find the hole or whatever is causing the leak and fix that without tearing the house apart? This must be a fairly common problem in old homes. Visible pipes are copper, but I think in the shaft they are really old, a neighbor thinks cast iron.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 06:34 PM
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If you already proved that it's the drain pipe after the sink/toilet, you just did the hardest part. Water tends to drip down pipes quite a bit, so it's often really difficult to figure out exactly where the leak is coming from.

The plumber will most likely have to open up a wall to find and fix the leak. You can do some exploration yourself if you feel so inclined.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 06:51 PM
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Something I have seen befoer is homeowners hang a picture on the wall downstairs where the upstairs waste line comes down in the wall. Yep.... Put a nail or screw in the pipe.

Have you dont anything like this?

Of course it could be a faulty joint also, but I would think you would get some water stains on the ceiling below that bath.

You did say cast iron pipes so corrosion/cracks are possible and not uncommon. Usually cast iron spits on the seams or at hubs. More common on horizontal runs then vertical from what I have seen in the field.
 
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Old 12-06-12, 05:16 AM
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I don't know if this is good news or bad news, but the shaft with the pipes goes directly from the second floor to the basement,no ceiling, it opens up in the top of a fairly large crawlspace so water is absorbed by the dirt floor should it roll off the plastic protective sheet on the floor. It is not a flood of water, just a good dripping after a fixture is used. Now I know those long, steamy showers I love so much may have not been such a great idea. Then, I'd guess showers would have cleaned the area (given the toilet flush also leaks, but I mostly use the downstairs bathroom). Because I never until now went into the basement after using an upstairs fixture, I have no idea how long this has been going on.

The shaft and pipes seems placed so that the large vent pipe to the roof is above that. This is an old Victorian house.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 11:30 AM
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Question

Photos with results. Replaced a section of the cast iron pipe. Luck was that the crack in the cast iron pipe was exactly where the exploratory hole in the wall was opened up in the 1st floor dining room.

Photos:

Start - before work.

End - after work.

Top - they left a clamp resting on a beam that supported the upper pipe.

Bottom - the cast iron pipe was "service weight" and not the same size as the pcv part inserted to replace the section cut out. They put some epoxy to seal the bottom of the bottom clamp. Then they took the clamp and pcv out to add a rubber looking round piece (looks like a black girdle) to make the pipe larger for a better fit. No leak in testing after that.

I'll leave the upstairs bath alone rest of today and test in the morning to be sure no dripping in the basement.

Not cheap, 4 hours serious work with some testing and experimentation. Hope it holds, this is a very well known plumbing service in town.

Does it make sense if there is any problem going forward that it is best to just open up a wall in the upstairs bath and remove the whole pipe (the stack above the pipe goes to the roof)? There is a good local contractor that can handle all the trades and in the past he has been reasonable.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 12:04 PM
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Sorry that the plumbers dont know what they are doing....

Those hubs are not to code. You must use a no hub / mission coupling. They are made to adapt cast to pvc which are two different sizes.

I hop you can get them to return and replace with proper fittings.

I can quote code for you, but just browse my stickys with code books.

Second IDK why they would leave the cast hubs. Why leave a leaded joint with the potential to leak. They should of removed both cast hubs at top and bottom and then installed PVC.

Sorry to downplay your repair. It is what it is and I see many young plumbers and old that do not do quality work, let alone know code.

If you got that inspected it would fail!!!!!

Here is the coupling to use by code.

Mission Rubber Products.html


IMO you got ripped off......
 
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Old 12-11-12, 12:55 PM
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Here are the real questions:
1) How long should your repair last?
2) Why did the cast iron pipe crack?

For the first question, weather it passes or fails code is only relevant if you are planning to sale or have pulled a permit for the repair. I assume that the answer to both is no. So, How long should you repair last? If the repair does not leak in the next 6 months(sometimes weather changes cause new leaks), then it depends on the quality of the adjustable bands on the coupler. If the bands are good quality stainless-steel then your repair can last for over 40 years, but if the bands are cheap easily rusting ones then you might only get 10 to 15 years out of this repair before you have to replace the sleeves. You can test the bands with a regular magnet to see the level of stainless. If the magnet sticks then it is low or no stainless, and you should complain to the plumbing company and have them replaced.

Now; For the second question. These 100 year old cast iron pipes don't just crack in the center of the pipes. This type of damage is almost always physical impact or a very bad clog that has corroded the pipe. When your plumbers removed the pipe did they note any blockages?

Lastly you asked if it would be best to just replace the rest of the stack riser up to the roof. The short answer is NO. As a rule of thumb... "Don't fix what is not broken". And as this is not a do-it-yourself project I would not touch the stack riser unless I was already planning to redo the roof and bathroom walls in my house. You are right... PVC looks new and strong, but remember that cast iron pipe has been on the job (day, night, weekends & holidays) for many years and will probably out live us all.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 01:18 PM
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For the first question, weather it passes or fails code is only relevant if you are planning to sale or have pulled a permit for the repair.

I disagree. He paid for a service from a professional plumber. He did not get what he paid for.

The rest of your paragraph is mute...


Now; For the second question. These 100 year old cast iron pipes don't just crack in the center of the pipes.

Cast iron is rated for 40 years as far as I know. Old cast cracks...period!!! This is a victiran home so I would think the pipe is close to 100 years old.

Lastly you asked if it would be best to just replace the rest of the stack riser up to the roof. The short answer is NO. As a rule of thumb... "Don't fix what is not broken". And as this is not a do-it-yourself project I would not touch the stack riser unless I was already planning to redo the roof and bathroom walls in my house. You are right... PVC looks new and strong, but remember that cast iron pipe has been on the job (day, night, weekends & holidays) for many years and will probably out live us all.
Disagree....


IMO I would repipe the whole home. All PVC. Also do the water pipe also. Pex is a good option. Probably have old galv pipe but dont know.

You will be patching as the years go on.






 
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Old 12-11-12, 01:32 PM
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The rest of the house is copper pipes done maybe 25 years ago. The crack was in the middle of the pipe, who knows why.

I called the head of the plumbing supply to voice a concern based on this post. He is also licensed like the workers had been. He said something about that the cast iron pipe was "service quality" and smaller, thinner than expected, part of the problem why they had trouble fitting the pvc to it. I'm not sure myself. I don't think they tried the coupling you Mike suggested but he said he knew all about it. It is hard to question him as he does get defensive and goes off on tangents when I mention what they did was not to code. He did say they warranty work and they've been in town for zillions of years, and he says they take care of people. So I'm sure if a problem arose he'd look into it (but probably at a cost, I don't know).
 
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Old 12-11-12, 02:02 PM
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I would demand they come back and repair. Hope it was not the big yellow truck.....

I would notify the BBB if not and local plumbing official.

Defensive? I would be appalled....

Stand your ground.. Dont let this contractor push you around.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 02:17 PM
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Maybe I am missing something here. How much was paid for this 4 hour repair?
 
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Old 12-11-12, 02:17 PM
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I gotta back up Mike (Lawrosa) 100%. What you got was a hack job. Sure, it will probably be okay (not right, just okay) for a few years and then it or something near will fail and you will have to tear the wall apart again.

Net, the owner probably told you it was "service weight" pipe, not service quality. Service weight is a lighter, thinner walled version of cast iron drainage pipe. The rubber couplings that were used are NOT acceptable anywhere except in underground work. The shielded couplings that Mike detailed (linked to) ARE for use in walls and ceilings and they DO make them in numerous sizes to connect all different sizes and materials. The "plumbers" that installed them simply did not have the proper fittings on the truck and were too lazy to go back to the shop or to the plumbing supply store and get the proper fittings. The epoxy "fix" was pure unadulterated laziness in my opinion.

EnclosedVisions, when you learn to properly spell whether and engineer I may think that you actually know something about what you are writing.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 02:42 PM
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Right, service weight sounds more like it.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 07:41 AM
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Does this make a difference - The plumber first tried to fit a coupling to connect the cast iron pipe and pvc section, but was surprised to find that the pipe was service weight and a smaller diameter than expected. So it was a different diameter than the pcv section. Could that be a reason for the "hacked job"? Or is there a coupling available to connect pipes of different diameters? Or should he have gotten a different size pcv piece to better match and be the same diameter of the cast iron?
 
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Old 12-12-12, 07:54 AM
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Does this make a difference - The plumber first tried to fit a coupling to connect the cast iron pipe and pvc section, but was surprised to find that the pipe was service weight and a smaller diameter than expected.

So it was a different diameter than the pcv section. Could that be a reason for the "hacked job"? Or is there a coupling available to connect pipes of different diameters?
LOL... Oh geez.... As long as I have been doing plumbing PVC and cast iron have always been two different sizes.

Its standard practice and code to use a mission coupling as I linked.

Mission Rubber Products.html

If these plumbers do not know what a mission coupling is or a no hub fitting, they should be "FIRED"

These coupling have one end bigger and one and smaller end. You would use the CP33 fitting if its 3"....

I am trying to help you here. You will have issues with those fittings.

The idea of the mission coupling is to allow no offset of the two pipe internally. With the coupling they used the two pipes are off set internally and clogging will occur... Waste will get caught....

I dont know what else to tell you except get your money back......

 
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Old 12-12-12, 08:01 AM
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You are very helpful, and I appreciate the feedback I have been given. I did call the company head yesterday (a large plumbing supply firm) and he danced around it. Today I have a letter in the mail already that spells out the problem, with help from here and and attached picture of the coupling you provided, and saying I want the job done right, that he let me down, that if the right coupling had been used initially it would have saved me time and money.

Today I am also looking to visit 1 or 2 other area plumbing supply stores to get their input - the more I have to support me, the more weight I have to push back on this. If I'm hearing the same thing (as I expect) I am thinking of putting a stop payment on the check I paid with yesterday.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 08:38 AM
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NJ code here

New Jersey Plumbing Code

Page 128 - 4.3.8

E. Unsheilded couplings shall be limited to underground use only.

Dont worry if they try to use F. to try to sway you that there is an exception. That applies to couplings without a internal stop.

Also in letter D. it states no unshielded coupling shall be installed where temps reach 130f. hey I set my water heater to 140f.....Hmmmm. Against code no?

Dont let them bully you. I worked for these type companys. I probably worked for the one you called. I know the young plumbers do not know nothing when it comes to code. The bosses dont want to lose money returning to fix it right.

I bet they offer you a partial refund to try to make you go away...

I cant stress enough about choosing your plumbers wisely.....
 
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Old 12-12-12, 08:52 AM
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"I cant stress enough about choosing your plumbers wisely...."

I agree, which is why I turned to them as they are a large company and the local "go to" place. The plumbers (an older and a younger apprentice) did fine work before, including replacing my rusty crusty cast iron kitchen sink stuck to the counter with a nice recommended solid surface sink I really like (bought it at Amazon and had a double discount so it was almost free). And they were great replacing my Flushmate toilet insert (that had been recalled). Before this year I've had a seldom need and used yellow-pages plumbers only to be disappointed (price) but work was ok. My electric guy recommended a plumber but he lives soooooo far away and quotes were high (on the sink).

That is why this time is so disappointing. And the invoice price seemed quite high in relation to other work like the difficult sink. Next time, my oil company can supply plumbers to take care of leaky faucets and toilets. And a local construction company that a neighbor likes can bring in the trades for the big jobs like if the whole cast iron drainage pipe needs replacing along with the stack at the roof - ugh.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 08:54 AM
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I could tell you this... In every plumbing company there are people that know what they are doing. But the company's want you to get in and out and make as much money off the customer as you can.

Netmouse, I am sure they offered to change your water heater and or boiler/furnace? This is cross sales and its what is taught.

I was the guy these companys chose to lay off because of my work ethic buy doing things by the book. Doing it by the book does not make money all the time. They want you to take shortcuts and reduce your labor time to maximize profit.

My arguement was if you do quality work and do it by the book it will actually reduce labor cost. Also you will have a customer for life. Which I feel is more important. Instead of the get in get out mentallity. We called it "beat them and cheat them"

Sooner or later you will run out of customers and get a bad name.

BBB ratings are a false sense of the companys standings also. They usually pay the customer off before the BBB posts the complaint. Shows as resolved. Angies list is also something that is a paid for rating from what I have seen.

OK I will shut up now...LOL. Its just I get angry at stuff like this.

I am the guy that got laid off in 2009 and vowed never to go back into the industry. I have not worked since. Stay at home dad struggling on spouses income, but loving every minute of it.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 09:00 AM
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I also lost my job in 2009 - in my case I had to train workers in the India location.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 12:54 PM
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Had an interesting talk with a different plumbing supply company in a different area. Showed them photos without identifying plumbers. They felt the job was fine done as it was, the couplings are similar. They did get in the comments, however, that they really weren't there to see the job done, and that over time the rubber might sag if it were a horizontal install (mine is vertical). Makes me nervous.

Now to see what results when the plumbing supply company that did the job gets my letter.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 12:59 PM
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They felt the job was fine done as it was,
They too are delusional...IMO. Code is code.



the couplings are similar.
That coupling and a no hub/mission coupling are in no way similar.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 01:12 PM
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I hear ya....thanks as always. You have been very helpful explaining things.
 
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