Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pipe Dreams...

For some reason, most people think of drugs when someone mentions pipes.  Why?  Remember how the bathroom sink backs up?
 (  It's been annoying me forever.  I finally was able to schedule some time with Sully to show him what was going on.  He came in on Monday to look at the stuff.  He said it wouldn't be too hard (he actually said it'd be easy).

Today, he called me up and said he got the parts and could come in to replace the pipes underneath the house!  We used Chuy's Sawzall (I LOVE that thing!) to cut out the old pipes.  It literally cut through them like a bread knife through a bagel.

That pipe was just nasty.

Here's a side by side comparison of a new cast iron pipe and the pipe we just cut out:
Sully used the snake going up through the drain to clean out anything on the vertical side, then used a shopvac to clean out anything on the side connecting to the main waste line.  He put the bands on, connected the new pipes, and within an hour, the water was draining from the bathroom sink like the house was brand new!  Sweeeeet!

Here's where Sully messed up, though.  He asked if there was anything else I needed done!  Well, there was always the kitchen sink drain that needed to be lowered!  (

We went upstairs to take a look at it.  He priced it out, and it was cool.  Same as the bathroom.  Me and his buddy Juan started to cut a hole into the drywall underneath the sink to expose the drain pipe.  Crap.  Issue #1 - this drain vents off to another pipe behind the cabinet on the left side.
If you're wondering why the cut extends out to the right, it's because I wanted to expose the old galvanized water supply lines.  They are no longer used since there's copper now, and they were just dead pipes sitting in the walls.  We exposed them so I could cut them out.

The odd thing about this was that to replace the copper pipes, it looks like they cut open a panel from the exterior, then replaced it.  There was newer cast iron piping in the wall banded to the older pipes, with a copper pipe connected the waste line to the vent line.

We cut open the wall in the back of that cabinet to the left, too:
GREAT!  The pipe that leads to the vent pipe goes through a stud.  Not bad, though, we just have to raise that pipe and cut a new hole.  At least it's not a support beam.

We cut through the pipes underneath the sink and put a band on to connect the new pipe.

Before we cut the pipe behind the left cabinet, Sully wanted to make sure it wouldn't fall on us.  He said he'd seen it happen a few times before, where they cut the pipe, and 30 feet of pipe above it just dropped straight through the floors.  Here's a picture of Michelle's kitchen walls exposed to see what was going on up there:
From this picture, we can see that there's a T-Joint leading off to the right side which will keep the pipe from falling on us.  Cool.  We proceeded to cut.  Even though the pipes were banded together, because a panel was cut from the exterior before, we couldn't reach the screw in the band to loosen it.  We had to cut it off.

We installed all the new cast iron pipe joints and bands, connected everything, then ran the water.  Guess what?  IT WAS BACKING UP!

The new chrome pipes under the sink were allowing the water to flow faster than the clogged pipes, and somewhere down the line, something was causing it to back up.  I thought, and Sully thought it might be as well, that the down grade from the waste line to the vent line wasn't steep enough, so Juan disconnected everything and with a grinder started to slowly cut away at the base of the vent line.  He removed about 1/8 inches, and we reconnected everything.  Crap.  Still backing up.

We disconnected everything and did it all over again, this time, grinding it down another 1/8 inches.
Check out the sparks flying.  This was serious.  We'd been working on this for a few hours now, and it was turning into a nightmare.  We kept cutting more and more of the pipe to increase the grade, and it was still backing up.  We used the shopvac to clean out anything inside the pipes, then tried flushing it down.  No go.

Here's all the crap that was in there:

We were getting close to the bottom, and it was getting harder and harder to replace the bands.

The kitchen was looking more and more like a disaster area.

Sully asked what was under us, and I said a storage room.  He asked what the pipes looked like from down there, and I had no idea.  I ran downstairs to look, and I could actually see the pipes!  Oddly enough, they were copper!  We decided to see if I could push the bottom up the pipe upwards to allow Juan access to cut more of the pipe and more room to connect the bands.  As I pushed the pipe up, I heard Sully say, "Muther fucker!  AY, ROB!  Come look at this shit!"  I let go and ran up.  Juan was holding on to the pipe piece.  It was about 3 inches of galvanized pipe banded to the copper piece downstairs.  That piece of galvanized pipe was just gummed up.  It looked like someone put a hockey puck in the pipe!

We used the shopvac and cleaned up what we could, then just removed that piece of galvanized pipe!  We connected some new cast iron pipe with a band to the copper, then reconnected everything.

Instead of connecting the chrome, we shoved the hose into the waste line to test it again.  It flowed!!!!  Sully was literally here for 8 hours!  But, geez, was I thankful!  That mess would've been a pain in the ass to get done from someone else!

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