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Ugh..orangeburg pipe...dilemma and septic question

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by eclecticcottage, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    So, we have Orangeburg pipe (or another similar brand) leading from cast iron to the septic tank. Well...some smart person put some concrete for a post on part of it many years ago. Guess what that did (several holes and it's now oval instead of round)? I can't believe we didn't find it sooner. But now...we need to replace it. Rather than try to fix the orangeburg we're replacing it, although what we have dug so far, aside from the part squashed by the concrete appeared to be in pretty good shape still. Considering it's PAST it's 50 year lifespan, I guess that's pretty good-although I wish it had reached and exceeded it about 5 or 6 years ago so someone else could have this fun task (even though we bought the place 2 years ago it was vacant for a few years, so I am thinking about 5-6 year would have landed it while it was still occupied). Oh well.

    Now. The problem. How the heck was this stuff attached to cast iron? We aren't ready to replace that YET and don't really want to break it. That goes into the slab, and is the waste line from the only bathroom. Since this fun all decided to occur this year, our Old House is rented, so we can't just go live there again for a little while we complete this task. We might be able to use the neighbor's house at some point later when we do the cast iron, at least for bathroom, but that's hopefully for later.

    Also...anyone know how many 90 degree angles can be in a main sewer line? If we have to redo the cast iron there'd be at least one, and possibly two, if we can leave it there would be three-this dang pipe was run UNDER a room and we'd rather not leave it that way, because we have to break up a bunch of concrete if we do.

    Then we need to figure out how to connect PVC to the cast iron. I am leary of that cast iron, I know it's probably 60 years old and brittle....

    Another weird problem...it seems the inlet on the septic tank is LOWER than the outlet. Does this seem right? The tank isn't crooked (like it settled funny), it just looks like it was made this way. I'm not home to see this, I'm getting a play by play from DH on this. I guess there are tubes in the tank leading to the outlet which is near the top of the tank. Could this actually be backwards (like someone put the in at the out and the out at the in)?? Are there maybe two outlet pipes, one lower than the other (kind of like the extra drains in sinks and tubs to catch over flow in case of a clog in the main drain)? This is very likely the original 1950's tank, considering the orangeburg ran to this tank. This is our first foray into the world of septic, previously the Old House had sewer service and someone had already replaced the main line out with PVC before we bought it (although the stack...ugh..is still cast iron).

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  2. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Fernco fitting.
    f3cbboy and PapaDave like this.
  3. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Um...ok. I know what it is...I assume you mean to use that once we get the orangeburg off of the cast iron to attach the new pvc?

    I'll have to post a pic, I don't know how it's set up but currently the orangeburg is connected to a cast iron T with one of the ends...erm..."capped" with what appears to be a clay flower pot. Will the fernco connect at a cast T?
  4. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Get rid of all the old junk pipe and use a Fernco to connect PVC to cast. I did this except it was clay tile instead of cast.
  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Weird. I had a capped too Tee and just replaced the whole thing with a couple 45s.
  6. USMC80

    USMC80 Minister of Fire

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    a 1056 series fernco will get you from cast to pvs
  7. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Good deal. We definately plan to get rid of the orangeburg. It's just a matter of how we're routing the replacement pvc.

    Now anyone know how to get the orangeburg off the cast? I really don't want to disturb the cast yet. I've never heard of Orangeburg pipe before digging this up, but I can't figure out how they would seal it, unless they used pitch or tar or something. Unless it's just a tight fit-we haven't messed with that part yet.

    Any guesses on the inlet/outlet? I guess there is some sort of system that does use two pipes at the outlet (I found a diagram of it) but I don't know how common it is or when it came into use.

    Blah. and I thought we'd get the laundry room fixed up this coming week so we could relocate the washer and dryer out of the living room to where they should be (we're making a small room into a laundry room, it wasn't before-so there's still all that plumbing to deal with).
  8. Butcher

    Butcher Feeling the Heat

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    Are you doing this yourself or having it done by a plumber? Take a good look at that cast pipe also. It will, over time, begin to flake and expand on the inside thus plugging the line. BTDT. Might want to bite the bullet and put all new PVC in if the budget allows it. In our old farm house we used to live in we had constant sewer problems. Dug up the tank. It was a 500 gallon metal barrel with 4x8 timbers for a lid. There was 6 feet of cast on the outlet side that connected to orangeburg that then ran to plastic field tile. The orangeburg was in good shape after all those years but the piece of cast was corroded almost shut. Replaced the cast with PVC and 2 fernco fittings and all was right again.
  9. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    DIY. Plumbers are not in the budget. We do plan to replace the cast, but we are hoping to do so at a later date. We're on a slab and to replace it we'll have to tear out the floor in the bathroom, break up the slab from the toilet to the outside, then replumb. Not impossible but messy and not what we want to do at the moment. Also, that is the only bathroom here so that would be something I'd want to do while I was on vacation and we'd also need to work with our neighbors so we could use their bathroom, or something. We hadn't planned to rent our old house out yet but friends lost their lease so we got them in there earleir this year-othewise we could just do all of the work now in one fell swoop and just move back to the old house for a little bit while we did it all.
  10. 343amc

    343amc Feeling the Heat

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    I feel your pain. The same thing happened to me summer of 2003. I dug up the Orangeburg pipe, ripped out all the cast iron and replaced it with PVC. I got lucky in that my bathrooms are directly above where the main drain leaves my house and heads to the septic, and I'd already replaced the galvanized pipe that came from the kitchen with PVC the year before. My cast iron drain was about half plugged anyways.

    While I haven't spent much time looking in septic tanks, I'd presume the outlet baffle needs to be at least slightly lower than the inlet baffle to keep the outlet below the scum layer. It might be hard to tell unless the tank is empty.
  11. Michael Golden

    Michael Golden Burning Hunk

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    I would use a fernco fitting like said above. I haven't seen a lot of septic tanks, but the ones I have the inlet is always above the outlet. The oldest tank I've seen has been my parents concrete tank and it was put in in the 70's.
  12. DJB

    DJB New Member

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    The orangeburg could be attached to the cast either with a 'burg coupling that fits over the cast, or just butted up against each other, with a glob of cement holding them together. if its a coupling, slice it the long way with a grinder or a chisel or whatever you may have, then peel it open, sort of like a clamshell. if it's cement, just whack it with a hammer or a chisel, it should break before the cast. I've seen old cast that's rotten and falling apart that breaks when you hit it with a shovel, and I've seen it that's still as good as new. Different brands, I guess. Just because it's old, doesn't mean its junk. When you open up the connection, look inside, clean it out with a stick, and check how thick it is, that will tell you if it's worth replacing. There's a few different sizes of 4" fernco, if there's a ridge on the end of the tee that your hooking onto, you may need one of the bigger ones. When your running the new line, try to stay away from 90's , use 45's instead, with a cleanout at every 90 degrees. As far as the tank goes... if the inlet is lower than the outlet, that would mean that the inlet pipe is under water. Is that the case? is it possible that there is more than one inlet, rather that outlets? pipes can settle outside of the tank, if the outlet was to settle just outside of the tank, that would lift the pipe up inside the tank, making the outlet higher. There's a lot that could be going on. back in the old days, you could pretty much do whatever you wanted. If you can put some pictures up, I could get a better idea of what's going on. BTW, I am in the septic repair and installation business, so I see this s@*t everyday.
  13. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Super quick update-orangeburg is out, was just slid over the cast (whew).

    Yes, inlet has water in it...which is partly how we found the problem. I don't think the outlet is lower now that I've looked, but we have to dig out that side of the tank. The water is too high though so theres' a clog somewhere I think, in the outlet/after. We're going to have it pumped, if we have to redig/replace the lines to the leach field so be it. Probably tree roots, we de-rooted a bunch of lines for our drainage system about a month ago so it wouldn't be a surprise.

    Cast is meh, we'll replace later.

    Trying to find correct pipe/fitting to go into the tank, then pitch from the cast to the tank since the orangeburg was squished by two concrete pads and the post...
  14. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Cast is not hard to cut with a sawzall ( fine tooth) or even a hack saw.
  15. schlot

    schlot Minister of Fire

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    That cast will be brittle so becareful. Also try to use 2 45degree bends instead of a 90 if possible and I'd put a cleanout where you make that sharp of bend
  16. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    A sweep 90 might work also.
  17. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Why PVC and not ABS? Most of the septic and sewers here in the west have black ABS piping. As for Orangeburg (bitumenized fiber conduit) I saw that stuff a lot in California. Amazing that they let that stuff be used for so long.
  18. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Playing in the poo . . . been there, done that . . . last year. With me it was a case where the home owner used the flimsy gray pipe and over time it got crushed which meant a couple times per year I would have to go out, pop the cover to the septic tank and ram some black plastic pipe to unblock it. Last year we dug things up and replaced the section with PVC . . . so far, so good. Still a nasty, smelly job.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That explains your fertile imagination Jake. ;lol
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  20. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    All done and used two 22 1/2" angles-just broke up the concrete instead of going around it.

    Not the most fun job we've done here so far, but now it's done.
  21. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    A lot of people are confused when they look inside a septic tank. I hear, "It's full" a lot since people don't realize that it is supposed to be full. The inlet and outlet are supposed to be even. You should not get liquid setting in the inlet pipe but what the heck, it will work fine and things sometimes settle an inch or two.

    It may be poo to you but it's my bread and butter. I'm in the poop business too but I use calculators more than shovels.
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  22. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Lol at the full part. Um, the water and uh..stuff...can't go anywhere if it's below the outlet (I do know all that's supposed to be leaving is liquid). We want ours pumped just because we don't know when it was last done, so there's no telling how much sludge there is.
  23. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Nothing wrong with pumping but there are ways to determine sludge and scum layer thicknesses. There is a tool called the "sludge judge" that is pretty much just a clear plastic straw that is rigid. You shove the judge to the bottom and then block the top and lift out the full straw which is like a core of the tank and you can measure layers. Or you can just shove a 2x4 in and feel for the mud.

    When in doubt, pump it out. Sending junk down your drainfield laterals can ruin your drainfield.
  24. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    We put in a new system a couple years ago - new field, dosing tank with a flout system. I can appreciate the Bread and Butter comment.

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