As so many of us have learned, renovation projects in older homes can become bigger than originally intended. This is especially the case when you discover leaking cast iron pipes in the basement! Cast iron has been used for pipes for centuries because of its longevity; however, in recent years homeowners began realizing the value of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes.
If you want to replace all cast iron pipes in your home with PVC, you will need to hire a plumbing contractor. This project will require permits, as well as digging up your backyard and floors. Even the most competent do-it-yourselfers turn this project over to the professionals!
Replacing small portions of cast iron pipe with PVC is another story! With a little patience, you can do the job at home.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Find the damaged spots in your cast iron pipes. Run your hand along the bottom to locate leaks and rusted portions of pipe. Mark either side of the damage with a pencil and measure the distance between the two marks. This is how much PVC pipe you need.
- When you get the PVC pipe from a plumbing supply store, pick up rubber gaskets known as “no hub bands”.
- Turn the water supply OFF to the section of pipe on which you will be working. Drain as much of the water out of the pipe as possible.
- Cut the pipe with a diamond-tip cutting blade and reciprocal saw. Make sure the saw does not pull any water back into its mechanisms.
- Cut the pipe at the other pencil mark and remove the damaged section.
- Measure and cut the PVC replacement. The section of PVC should be the same size as the original, damaged pipe.
- Join the undamaged cast iron pipe and PVC pipe with couplings.
- When you fit the PVC pipe in place, put PVC cleaner on all the joints. Allow the cleaner to dry and apply joint glue to both fittings. Attach the fittings together and twist slightly.
- Connect the rubber gasket to the place the PVC meets the cast iron and tighten the band.
- Turn the water back on and test your fix.
- After half an hour, run your hand along the bottom of the pipe around the connection. Feel for leaks and seeping dampness. If you find any problems, turn off the water supply and tighten the gaskets.
If at any point in the project, you are unsure how to proceed, call your local plumber! Pushing through a project that you do not understand or feel comfortable completing can cause larger plumbing problems and a bigger plumbing repair bill!
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