Plumbing System Repair Suggestions - 83 Year old house

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Old 02-21-14, 03:41 PM
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Plumbing System Repair Suggestions - 83 Year old house

My wife and I purchased our first house a few months ago, a 2 story English Tudor built in 1931. We have been slowly tackling projects as we get to them or as the problems appear!

I would like to get some opinions on my best options for our plumbing system. As-is the system does drain and works OK, to an extent. We have had a few issues with leaks and almost everything drains slowly.

Recently the 2nd floor bathroom sink completely stopped draining. Upon removing the trap I discover that the galvanized pipe laid into the concrete was broken and leaking at its end. This was mostly due to a bad connection by the previous owner. It is also clogged with a solid wall of a rock hard gray substance that I can not penetrate.

Our plan is to eventually demo/rebuild both the 2nd floor full bath and the 1st floor 1/2 bath. Once we are at this point I would like to take care of as many of the plumbing issues as possible. This way we are prepared for the costs and scope of work ahead of time.

Is the best practice in this situation to remove all cast iron piping and replace with PVC? If so, it that a practical DIY job and can the existing roof venting be secured somehow and continue to be utilized? The reason I ask is because we have a very steeply pitched roof and no attic access.

We do have a full basement with great access to the main drainage pipes. Our system is setup differently in the basement then most that I have seen. I am not sure what that best way to connect PVC into it would be. From what I have seen, most systems go into the basement floor under the cement. Ours on the other hand, goes through a cast iron trap and exits through the foundation wall at a slight pitch, about 4' feet from the floor.

I have included several pictures to show the plumbing setup. If you would like to see any additional photos or need more information please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you for your help in assessing our options.

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Old 02-21-14, 03:54 PM
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Hello and welcome.............

Hmm big job...

You may be able to utilize the stack. But will need to remove the lead joints to convert to PVC... Once you start snapping the cast to do this instead of removing the leaded hubs then I say replace it all..

Call the town and ask if the house trap can be removed. If it can then I would work from there up...

To do it right would require some gutting of the baths and some walls..

Are you up for that?

Plus its not a job where you will be done in a few hours.. may take a week or so... This would be be with no ability to use fixtures.

Are you up for that?
 
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Old 02-22-14, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for the reply, Mike!

I looked little closer at the roof vent pipe configuration this morning. I realized that it is actually located in one of the 2nd floor bathroom walls that would most likely be striped anyway. The roof is actually only a few feet away from the ceiling in this part of the house. So removing the entire system shouldn't be too much more work. I feel as if it would be worth it to replace everything while I have the opportunity.

I spoke with the city this morning and they do not require a house trap configuration.

I assume the best way to remove the cast iron is to start at the top and remove it in sections? Then when at the house trap I would disconnect it at the hub by removing the lead joint and rebuild it from there using a rubber "donut" coupling to transition to PVC.

I am up for gutting the bathrooms and additional walls to facilitate this project. My plan right now is to gut the 1st floor 1/2 bath and remove/replace the cast iron at the same time. Then complete the remodel on the 1st floor 1/2 bath while retaining a least partial use of the 2nd floor full bath. Then after completing that moving onto gutting and remodeling the 2nd floor full bath. Of course this would requiring some redundant work with having to redo the 2nd floor full bath connections. I think it is doable because I will have full access to the cast iron by removing a 1st floor wall and ceiling and 1 wall in the 2nd floor bath. Does this plan seem feasible?

Obviously a week without the ability to use fixtures doesn't sound pleasant. But we do have friends/family close by and could rent a portable toilet.

I think the remodeling of the bathrooms will take longer then a week and we have been mentally prepared for it to take a month or so each. It would be great if I could do it is the stages mentioned above. That way we would only lose toilet usage for the week set aside to replace the cast iron. After the new PVC is installed we could use the 2nd floor shower and toilet until we have the 1st floor 1/2 bath competed and usable. Then we could move on to remodeling the 2nd floor full bath. In that case we wouldn't have a shower but we would still have the 1st floor toilet.
 
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Old 02-22-14, 09:45 AM
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Show me how the house is laid out. Example.

Are the baths ontop of each other?
Its a full bath and 1/2 bath? ( Do you want to make the 1/2 bath a full bath?)
Where is the laundry and what floor.
Where is the kitchen sink and what floor?

Might as well redo the water pipe too IMO. Replace with pex.... Recoup some money with the scrap copper and cast iron...

Last my estimate if you DIY with material, fixtures, tile, etc.... At least $10,000 -$15,000.

Hire someone $35,000 - $45,000 area... (NJ prices and just my best guess)
 
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Old 02-22-14, 10:44 AM
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Yes, the bathrooms are essentially on top of each other. We are not planning on converting the 1st floor 1/2 bath to a full bath. There really isn't space for it and it is not something we feel that we need for our use or for potential resale value.

The 1st floor 1/2 bath was built in an addition off of the foyer, there is nothing but a roof above it. It extends about 5 feet from the house. All of these pipes run through a small hole busted into the foundation in the basement. There is no access to those pipes without pulling up the floor.

The 2nd floor full bath is above it but not directly. If you were to look out the window of the 2nd floor full bath you would be looking down into the 1st floor 1/2 bath.

The laundry is in the basement directly below the 2nd floor. Essentially it is right next to the cast iron drain system in the 4th photo I posted.

The kitchen sink is on the first floor drains from the opposite side of the house via a new PVC run in between the joists over to the cast iron main drain system shown in the 4th photo. The sink has an independent cast iron vent that goes up through the kitchen and a bedroom exterior wall. This is located on the opposite side of the house to the rest of the plumbing system. I would prefer to leave that vent in place if possible.

The main cast iron stack runs up from the basement through an interior wall that I have access to on both sides on the first floor. I will have to and plan to strip this wall to remove/ replace the cast iron.

Inside of the 1st floor ceiling the main pipe has a branch that takes a 90 degree turn and runs about 3 feet, the toilet, shower, sink and roof vent are on this branch. About 1 foot or so below the 1st floor then 1st floor bathroom drain comes through the hole busted in the foundation and connects to the main stack. A foot or so below that there is another connection for the laundry drain. Picture 4 probably explains this better then my wording.

I agree about converting the water pipes also. I need to research have to properly use PEX as I don't have experience with it but I have heard it is much easier to work with.

Thanks again for your help. It really helps me to have a full plan in place before starting a project. I think your numbers should be pretty close, I am actually in Bridgeton which is in Southern NJ.
 
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Old 02-22-14, 11:17 AM
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Best I could do quick drawing...

You see the vent for laundry must get up somehow to tie into another vent.


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