Cutting Ductile Iron Pipe

What You'll Need
Snap cutter
Hand held rotary tool
Measuring tape
Safety goggles
Heavy duty gloves
Stiff bristle brush
Damp cloth

A ductile iron pipe is one of the most popular choices for installation of water and sewer lines in homes. It is a type of highly resilient cast iron pipe which makes it ideal for drainage purposes. Ductile iron is much easier to install than steel. It also has lower maintenance requirements than steel. This makes it an attractive choice if you’re in need of a highly practical and durable piping material. It may be necessary to cut through your ductile iron pipe during installation or plumbing maintenance. Although different tools may be used for the purpose, one of the most efficient is the snap cutter. This guide shows you how to go about it.

Step 1 - Locate the Pipe

Trace the pipe wherever it may be in the ground. Once you’ve located the pipe, lift it from the ground and place it on a piece of wood. The wood provides a stable base for the pipe as you cut and enables you to cut more efficiently.

Step 2 – Clean the Pipe

Pipes that have been underground come up with a lot of soil and dirt. Brush off the soil and other loose material from the pipe with a brush. Wipe around the pipe with a couple of damp cloths so that you have a clean surface when you cut through.

Step 3 – Mark the Cutting Line

Hold the pipe firmly in one hand. Use the other hand to mark the point where you intend to cut. Use a piece of chalk to mark the cutting line all round the pipe at the same point. It is a good idea to wear thick gloves to prevent blisters when you cut.

Step 4- Position the Cutter

You can rent a snap cutter from a home improvement store. A snap cutter consists of a roller chain and ratchet. The chain is connected to a scissor-like head known as a ratchet. The pressure applied onto the chain snaps the pipe into two. Place the chain around your chalk line.

Step 5 – Cut through the Pipe

Lever the ratchet so that the chain can tighten around the pipe. The chain consists of cutter wheels which bite into the pipe as you level the ratchet. These wheels set into the pipe with equal pressure. The build-up of pressure eventually causes the pipe to snap into two.

Step 6 – Smoothening

Due to the pressure applied by the ratchet, your pipe may have uneven edges once it snaps. Use a hand held rotary tool to even out the rough edges. Position the tool on the rough edges of one piece of broken pipe. Polish the rough edges slowly all round the circumference of the broken pipe. Once you've smoothed the rough bits you can polish the other pipe in the same manner. Proceed to cut other areas of pipe if need be. Work as outlined in the above steps.