Removing stubborn cleanout plug

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Old 10-31-01, 03:21 AM
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I have what appears to be a cast iron cleanout plug, approx. 3 1/4" diameter, that absolutely will not budge. I'm willing to bet that it hasn't been removed in the 35 years the house has existed. How can I remove it without risking breaking the pipe that it screws into? BTW, this plug is unusual in that it has a hex head for the wrench rather than a square head.
 
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Old 10-31-01, 06:11 AM
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You can try heating the cast iron that the plug is in with a propane torch to see if that will loosen it, OR you can soak the threads (at least overnight) with a good penetrating oil, and then use a length of "cheater" pipe (galvanized) that will fit over the handle of a large pipe wrench to try and break it loose counter-clockwise.
Good Luck!
Mike
 
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Old 10-31-01, 06:42 AM
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No can do with the torch, as the plug is flush with the wall and really I don't have access to the tee it's screwed into without risking a fire behind the wall. The other idea sounds good, but my paramount concern is that I don't break anything other than the plug itself, and I'm concerned that applying the amount of force that can be generated by putting an extension over the pipe wrench will do just that. Am I being overly cautious?
 
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Old 10-31-01, 07:01 AM
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You're right. No torch.
And yep, you're probably being overly cautious.
Don't worry about the cheater pipe trick. If the cast iron is solid, the penetrating-oil-soaked rusted threads should give first.
Use whatever brute strength that is necessary to unscrew that plug with the cheater pipe.
If you can't budge it any other way, that is about the only way that I know to do it, except for a hammer wrench.
If you can find a hammer wrench that will fit the hex end of the plug exactly, it can be hammered with even a sledge hammer to unscrew it.
I've used both, but usually you can only find a hammer wrench at industrial suppliers.
Good luck!
Mike
 
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Old 10-31-01, 09:12 AM
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It's the "if the cast iron is solid" that I'm worried about. Indeed, I notice that sometimes when the uptairs toilet is flushed I can hear what sounds like a faint "clunk" as the flushed material passes down the pipe.
 
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Old 10-31-01, 10:06 AM
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Clunking noises are normal in drain pipes.
Cast iron is the quietest, and plastic is the loudest.
Doesn't necessarily mean anything.
Give the cheater pipe a try, but just do it slowly. If it looks like the cast iron is stressing (or appearing to begin to crack) without moving the plug, stop.
Mike
 
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Old 10-31-01, 11:23 AM
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Use a somewhat big chisle and a 2 pound maul (hammer). Beat on the plug only and when parts are about to break loose, use pliers to pull the loosen part out so it does fall into the drain line.
Use a rubber compression plug to replace the old plug. This is a a piece that look like 2 big diameter washers with a hunk of rubber between them with a bolt and wing nut that tighens up, expanding the rubber into the old threads on the clean out. They come in all sizes of cleanouts.

Have fun and take your time.
 
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Old 10-31-01, 12:30 PM
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notuboo is a pro (I'm not), so give it a shot.
Sounds good to me.
Thanks, notuboo.
Mike
 
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Old 10-31-01, 09:49 PM
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If that does not work then I go for the all or nothing approach. I take a sawzall with a metal cutting blade and cut the hex nut off as close to the face of the cap as I can. The hex is usually hollow which then allows me to cut the cap into several pie shaped pieces by putting the blade of the sawzall perpendicular to the threads. Be very careful not to cut so deeply as to damage the female threads on the plug, you are screwed if you do. I usually cut the cap into three or four sections and then use a cold chisel and a hammer to pry the pieces up and out. be careful and work slowly so as not to loose a loose section down the drain pipe. I usually stuff a rag part way down the drain after I get the first section out. You know that your are really good when you can cut across only the male threads on the cleanout cap without touching the female thread. Replace with a similar size iorn pipe size thread cap, be it pvc, aps, iorn or brass or use a rubber quick test plug. Take the scraps of the old cap with you to the hardware store to aid in sizing the replacement.

my bigger question is why do you feel you need to remove this cap? Are you having sewer problems?
 
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Old 11-01-01, 01:28 AM
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Paulypfunk

No, I'm not having any problems currently. I just figured that at some point I may, and I wanted to have ready access to the cleanout plug and not have to worry about running into a problem extracting it (or having to pay extra to do so. BTW, I have determined that the cleanout plug is brass. Would this change the approach?
 
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Old 11-01-01, 04:58 AM
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Brass is easy to cut.

Use the Sawsall approach, then removal should be a snap, then just get the same size cap in plastic.
 
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Old 11-01-01, 06:52 AM
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Brass is super easy. You can sure use the plastic plug. Be sure to measure the pipe before going out to buy a plug, sometimes I run across a size that's about 3 1/2 diameter on older homes. No one carries that size anymore and then you become creative.
 
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Old 11-02-01, 04:15 AM
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Well, this IS a dilemma. Do I try the wrench and cheater bar and risk breaking the pipe behind the wall, or do I drill and remove the plug, risking pieces falling into the pipe? Perhaps I should just flip a coin...
 
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Old 11-02-01, 05:55 AM
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Brass is softer then cast, the brass will give long before the cast, this is what I do, I chisel a hole in the top, large enough to get a sawblade in it, then cut from threads to threads, till I can get enough cut to allow me to remove the cap. If you fear a piece of the cap might fall in, then use some pliers to hold the pieces steady while you cut the cap off.

Sometimes I just take a hammer and pound on the top till it knocks a hole through it, then I use a saw to cut it, and sometimes, after pounding on the top, which, cause the brass is so soft, it will deform the cap inward, this allows the threads to braek free, allowing the cap to unscrew.

If your still worried, about it, never tried this, just thought about it, before you pound or cut the cap off, apply some duck tape on the top of the cap, this will hold the pieces together.
 
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Old 12-23-12, 12:43 PM
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Warning - Cheater bar snapped my cheapo 18" pipe wrench!

Be careful, and use a good pipe wrench (I just discovered these things). My basement 2" iron/steel cap (it is magnetic) under my main bathroom and tub won't come loose on my 56 year old home. I think I used probably too long of a cheater bar (5' pipe that just barely fit over the pipe wrench handle). Either that, or I need to buy a good brand pipe wrench....or a pipe wrench longer than 18". I tried heating the surrounding pipe with a propane torch for 5 minutes. The handle on the "dropped forged" pipe wrench (made in Taiwan) snapped when I re-attemped trying to loosen it. I can't use penetrating oil, because the former owner painted all the joints of the pipes in the basement with some silver colored stuff (paint? rust inhibitor?). I guess I could try scraping the paint off near the connection between the cap and the pipe and trying the oil. Oh well. Off to the local home improvement store to buy a new (longer?) wrench and a 2" compression fitting.

My question is; are the iron/steel heads also hollow, and if not, after cutting the square head off do I then drill a hole into the remaining metal cap so that I can get the sawzall blade into it to cut it into pieces? Will let you know my progress....hope to hear from someone soon!
 
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Old 12-23-12, 01:10 PM
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For old rusted pipe, what I've found-

First, wire brush the area to shiny, make sure which metals you're dealing with.


Second, get WD-40 or other penetrating oil, let it sit.
If the plug is vertical and the oil just runs off,
mix the (1) penetrating oil with (2) weak muriatic acid and (3) dish soap OR silicone grease.
The result is basically an acidic "penetrating mayonnaise" that you can smear on and leave sit for a day or two. (figured out this recipe while loosening on old jeep body bolts.)

Apply with a bush, and don't let it sit on your bare skin, it will burn like lime or curing concrete.
Also, do not store the "WD-40 mayonnaise" in a sealed jar or it will explode.

Third heat and cold for stress and strain.
Heat the pipe to get it to expand.
Wipe of any penetrating oil, or paint. Heat with a low propane flame.
Let it cool, repeat a few times.

Cool the plug to get it to contract.
In an unfinished basement, I've used ice cubes to cool the plug and make it contract.
If that's not an option, use dry ice, but get a thick sets of gloves, and a cocktail ice claw,
and hold the dry ice pellets against the plug.

Fourth - tighten the pipe first.
I have no idea why this works, but it always seems easier to break a fitting loose by
TIGHTENING IT, and then once it has moved, loosen it.
 
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