The Pipe is Gone

After posting about the annoying discovery of the T that was in the way, you all confirmed what I already knew in my gut.

The pipe had to go.

$500 isn’t a ridiculous amount in the grand scheme of things.


Worth wishing the kitchen had 6 more inches and knowing I could have changed it but didn’t? Nope.

Honestly though, one of the big concerns for me was disturbing my garden unit tenant. We’ve been having issues in her unit (well, the whole house really) and it seems things are finally under control. She has been so reasonable, patient, & understanding about everything. The thought of telling her I had to inconvenience her some more wasn’t a happy thought.

In the end though, it was worth it and not nearly as bad as I feared.

My plumber came yesterday, opened up a manageable size hole in her closet, just big enough to work (15×30″) and I patched it as soon as he left. I wet-sanded the spackle today and repainted before she even got home.

Before | After

There she is! In all her PVC-y goodness.

And this:


is why I couldn’t do the job myself (not that I’m qualified to anyway).

That medieval looking thing is a cast iron soil pipe cracker. The chain wraps around the pipe, applies an insane amount of pressure, and creates a perfectly clean crack in the pipe. Neat.




{Oh hello, Bathroom Renovation! Nice to see the joist-fix is looking well.}



A thick rubber fitting joined the cast iron to the new PVC on both ends. It’s held on with 2 hose clamps.


And here’s where things went a little…well…wrong. And it’s also the reason an actual blueprint or sketch would be helpful. Or maybe just better communication skills.


My plumber thought I needed the pipe to move back as far as possible. Like “up against the big brick wall” back. He put 2 – 45 elbows off the stack in the garden unit and ran straight up to my second floor.



I told him it looked great. It was perfect. I loved it.

Except it wasn’t. And I didn’t. And I even took the tape measure out before he even left but still paid him, assured him things were wonderful, and sent him on his merry way.


In reality, I needed the pipe to stay as far to the right (south) side as possible. The T on the original pipe was what was in the way. I had planned on working around the original pipe anyway. Would more depth be great? Sure. But the upstairs bathrooms have to drain somewhere.

By putting the 45’s on the bottom, it moved the whole pipe to the left about 3″. Thus only gaining me a net of 3″. 3″ for $500 isn’t the same as 6″. And I was expecting 6″.


My stomach was in knots. It didn’t come out as I thought it was going to. I just paid him a substantial amount of money. And – the worst part – I told him everything was great & perfect & wonderful when I knew in my gut it wasn’t.


So I did what any normal nearly-30-year-old would do. I texted my parents.

Lamented the mistake. Confessed I was so disappointed and upset. Threw myself a little pity party and they told me what, again, I already knew.

I had to put on my big girl panties and call him back. Tell him it wasn’t fine and I wasn’t happy.

He was a little caught off guard. I did, after all, tell him 20 minutes ago it was perfect. He told me he would think about it and call me back.

A few minutes later he called me back and said he could probably just turn the pipe upside down. Thus making all the angles the same as the original pipe.

It would be further off the back wall but back to the right where the original pipe was. Perfection. He said to give him an hour and he’d be back. He’d also bring his drill this time to do the spigot I mentioned I wanted earlier that day.

It literally took him less than 2 minutes to undo the hose clamps, flip the whole PVC upside down, and clamp it back into place.


And – MAGICALLY – the pipe was back to cuddling the south side of the house where it belonged. Oh Geometry, you’re so awesome.


Here it is before & after he flipped it upside-down.


See how it’s more to the right in the second pic? SO MUCH BETTER. You can really see the difference at the bottom, using the far right joist as a comparison.

Plus – an hour & a half later I had a spigot on the front of the house.



A first in the 130+ year lifetime of this home. And I don’t have to run up the first flight of stairs to fill up a watering can 5 times a day to water the stoop flowers. Win.


On Having a Plumber: I don’t have many relationships with specific tradespeople, since a do a lot of stuff myself, but I am grateful to have my plumber. He knows my boiler. He fixed my bathroom when I broke it with my ass (and that fix took some serious skills!). He’s a little gruff but he’s smart and experienced and makes time for me when I call. I never have to wait days upon days for him to come. Plumbing isn’t something I have nearly the experience to do myself and learning takes a long time. Leaking pipes behind walls or under floors would be catastrophic. Hooking up a sink? Sure, I could do that. Replacing my main soil stack? NoSoMuch. At least not today.

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6 Responses to The Pipe is Gone

  1. kmliving says:

    Hooray – all done! Now on to the next thing!

  2. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the compromise. I’m gla you were able to get it taken care of and so glad you called him back. I can be the same
    Way with contractors. Sometimes I’m afraid of hurting their feelings. And, hurray for the front spigot.

  3. I have the same problem calling out “communication issues” because I hate so much to do rework myself that even thinking about someone else doing it makes me twitchy. Of course, if I have a contractor at the house I generally hover over them and make sure they’re doing it right, which I’m sure is way less annoying. You paid good money for those extra 3 inches though, so I’m glad you got them back!

  4. Oh, wow… I would have freaked out after realizing that the pipe was in the wrong spot. Good for you for getting it corrected!!

  5. Back in my early college days working for a contractor, we did several bathroom renovations in old Cleveland condos. On several occasions we had to break the main stack to do jobs very similar to the one you had to do. Usually it was to tie in a new toilet in a place there wasn’t one before. We had to use one of those massive cutters, and we needed to coordinate with all of the upstairs neighbors to NOT FLUSH THE TOILET, TAKE A SHOWER, RUN THE WASHER, OR EVEN WASH THEIR HANDS!!!! while we were doing the work. Then we would have a small window of opportunity to complete the task before someone would get impatient and do something that resulted in a sewer shower. It was an extra nerve wracking experience, I assure you. But the real key to what we were doing was supporting the stack above. Since there were sometimes 2 or 3 floors of cast iron above, taking out a section put a tremendous amount of stress on the various joints, so we would need to do lots of extra work to permanently support it. I’m rambling now, but it was a serious pain in the butt, and it was also a little scary while doing the work. At any rate, your new PVC stack looks much better in its new home, well done. And now I’m drooling over that giant impact drill to put a hole in the masonry in your house, we need to do something similar for ours. I guess we could rent one, but where’s the fun in that? 🙂

    • Yeah that impact drill was awesome!! But the bits would really jack up the overall price too; none of them are cheap. He used 3 bits to drill for the spigot: – a 24″ long at 1/2″ wide as a guide/make sure it’s where you want it on both sides. – an 18″ long at 1″ wide to make it slightly bigger – and finally a 12″ long 1.5″ (I think) wide to fit the spigot

      The plumbing is actually tipped forward just a little, so any residual water will run out and the spigot can be winterized properly. He then shoved pieces of shim between the copper pipe & the stone and wet the shims so they would expand. Once that dried, I just put some silicone around it to keep the water out.

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