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How To Replace Broken Cast Iron Soil Pipe

Updated on January 21, 2012

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Repair broken sewer pipe easily

Cast iron pipe rots. It will take a long time, but, eventually, cast iron pipe, the old bell and spigot type, will deteriorate to the point that it becomes punky and soft. You may discover that a section of the old pipe under your house is cracked and leaking. How do you remove and replace it?


Preparation – Choose The Right Tool


  1. The first thing to do is rent a pair of soil pipe cutters. Most rental stores, and even some hardware stores, carry these specialized tools and rent them out to their customers. There are two types of soil pipe cutters. One operates with a ratchet handle. This type works especially well in tight places like crawl spaces and in between stud and joist spaces. You loosen or open up the cutter chain jaws with the knob, place the cutter chain around the soil pipe and engage the chain with the jaws, then tighten the knob. Once you have the chain in place and tight, you operate the ratchet handle until the cutter chain breaks the cast iron soil pipe. These tools require some experience to operate successfully. If you are unfamiliar with this tool, ask someone at the rental yard or hardware store to demonstrate it for you.


  1. The second type is a large soil pipe cutter that looks somewhat like a pair of pliers with a cutter chain attached to the end of pliers. You need quite a bit of space to operate these cutters. They work great outside and in ditches. Once again, you loosen or open up the jaws with an adjustment handle near the jaws of the unit, place the cutter chain around the soil pipe where you want to cut it, tighten the adjustment handle which should open the handles of the soil pipe cutter far apart. Resting one handle on the ground or against yourself, press the other handle together toward the first one like closing a pair of pliers. If you have adjusted the soil pipe cutter properly the cast iron soil pipe will break cleanly.


The Problem


  1. The problem comes in trying to cut that old deteriorated cast iron soil pipe. You have to keep cutting away at it until you find a section of the pipe that is solid enough to cut cleanly.


The Repair


Then clean the outside of the pipe well, slide your Fernco or Mission rubber coupling over both ends of the old cast iron pipe, cut a new section of ABS or PVC DWV (drain, waste, and vent) plastic soil pipe to fit and install the couplings.


Tips and Tricks


  1. You can also use no-hub couplings of the proper size to make your connections.


  1. The clamps on the couplings should be tightened with a special torque wrench or to 12-inch pounds. Do not over tighten the clamps or they will strip.


  1. Note that DWV or drain, waste, and vent plastic pipe is the same or nearly the same outside dimension as cast iron soil pipe. But copper DWV pipe is a different outside diameter entirely and cannot be used in this instance.

Cast Iron Soil Pipe

Repair old cast iron soil pipe with the right tools and techniques.
Repair old cast iron soil pipe with the right tools and techniques.


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    • profile image

      Unknown 8 years ago

      Very Helpful...Sincerely Thanks!

    • profile image

      Roger 7 years ago

      Very valuable. I would have missed the cutter and made a second trip to the rental store.

    • profile image

      Jerry 7 years ago

      Thanks, Roger. I'm glad to be of help.

    • elf_cash profile image

      elf_cash 7 years ago

      Nice job Jerry, that tips and tricks section is great for beginners, I notice that I've had to "fix" home do-it-your-selfers work quite often and if they had a resource like this I'm sure there would be far fewer problems. Again, good hub!

    • profile image

      Mike D 7 years ago

      What would be a "rough cost estimate" for a plumber to replace a cast iron soil pipe from 1st floor bathroom toilet to drain in basement concrete with new pvc?

    • profile image

      bonnie 7 years ago

      hi i am wondering ..the pipe is rotted to the elbow..and we need to save the elbow. how do we salvage as much of it as possible?

    • profile image

      Crimping Tools 7 years ago

      Thanks for your sharing my friend

      It is very helpful for my work

    • profile image

      Cast Iron Soil Pipe 7 years ago

      Repairing Cast Iron Soil Pipes can be expensive, and hard to source. Cast waste pipes are more expensive to purchase but will out last plastic. Excellent blog!!!

    • profile image

      Cable Tie Tools 7 years ago

      Thanks my friend ,It is very helpful for work

      But I think that It will cost lots of money and time to do

    • profile image

      Pipe Cutters 6 years ago

      Very helpful

      Thanks so much

    • profile image

      Jerry 6 years ago

      You're welcome! Thanks for reading. Have a great day.

    • profile image

      JD 6 years ago

      Another option on cutting the cast iron is using the "torch" diamond blade made by Milwaukee in any reciproacting saw. It worked very well in removing 2" cast iron in a tight space in a wall for me, but it takes a few mintues to get through the material and gets hot. They make a longer blade for 4" pipe.

    • Jerry Watson profile image

      Jerry Watson 6 years ago from Hermitage, Tennessee

      Yep, I've heard of them but they came out after I retired, I think. Great resource info. Thanks for your contribution.

      all the best,


    • whitton profile image

      whitton 6 years ago

      Nice Hub. These are some great tips Jerry.

    • profile image

      speedfit 6 years ago

      Thanks for this post! This is all a nice tip to get an easier work regarding this pipes.

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