Alternatives to Lead in Cast Iron Piping

Written by steve sloane
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Alternatives to Lead in Cast Iron Piping
Cast iron pipes are now joined with rubber gaskets and steel bands. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Though more expensive than conventional plastic sewer pipes, cast iron is durable, has been used for centuries, and its thick walls deaden the noise created by running sewer water/waste. Where old cast iron pipe sections were joined together with oakum and melted lead, new cast iron pipes are fitted together with a rubber gasket and a stainless steel band.

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Gaskets/Steel Bands

Both the rubber gasket and the stainless steel band have a slightly larger diameter than the cast iron pipe, and when installed in place fit snugly around the pipe. The stainless steel band is pushed onto the end of one length of cast iron pipe, and slid 12 inches or more along the pipe. Soapy water is mixed together and used to wet one outside pipe end to help the gasket slide onto the pipe.

Wetting the Pipe End

The rubber gasket is pushed onto the cast iron pipe end, so the gasket's inner central lip touches the end of the pipe. The other end of the gasket is then rolled onto the gasket end that's connected to the pipe. When installing a vertical pipe, due to cast iron's heavy weight, it's always best (and safer) to have a second person hold one pipe in place while the other pipe is attached.

Joining the Second Pipe

The second cast iron pipe section is held in line with the first pipe, so its pipe end touches the rubber gasket's inner central lip. Again, a second pair of hands is useful in holding the pipe in position. The gasket end is then rolled over the end of the second pipe.

A Watertight Seal

Most steel bands are slightly shorter than the gasket, so when the band is properly slipped over the gasket, an equal amount of gasket shows at both ends of the band. The two metal hose clamps on each end of the steel band are tightened with a screwdriver or ratchet wrench. If installed correctly, the gasket/steel band not only acts as a watertight seal for the two pipe ends, but is also strong enough to hold the pipes together whether they're installed horizontally or vertically. However, metal bracing should be applied periodically around the pipe and attached via screws to wall studs/ceiling joists for extra support.

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