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Tales From My Shitty House, Part Three: This One Friggin' Pipe

Look at this pipe.  Look at it.


This pipe.  This goddamn pipe.  Let me tell you, this thing has been a bigger pain in the ass than pretty much anything else in my house so far.


When we moved in, this was a 1.5" iron drainpipe that came up from the kitchen on the first floor and stretched up to the roof, where it is vented.  Along the way, it branched off into a drain for a sink on both the second and third floors.

The sink on the third floor did not function at all, as the faucet was rusted through and could not let water pass.  The sink on the second floor fared only slightly better, allowing a thin, grotty stream of putrid rust-water to spit out into the basin, but did not allow anything to drain.

So one of my first projects was to get rid of both of those sinks and re-plumb the water supply lines.

Done.  The third floor sink is gone and the second floor is set up for a bar.

There's just one problem: this sonofabitch pipe.



What you're seeing in this picture is the rusty innards of the pipe, which have collapsed in on themselves and filled up the entire thing with an impassable block of garbage.  The pipe cannot drain because it is filled from top to bottom with this crap.  So, I have to cut it out and replace it with lightweight, inexpensive, rust-proof PVC.  (God bless PVC.  I'm sure it's an environmental disaster, but working with it is a dream.)

Except that this pipe is cast iron.  Cast iron is heavy.  And thick.  And difficult to cut.

This pipe is also tucked away in an inconvenient spot with very little room to work.  Which means I get to sit in a cramped position with only three inches of space and grind ever-so-slowly with a hacksaw blade to cut this piece of crap out.

And since it's so heavy and spans across the entire height of the house, it would be too unmanageable to get rid of it all in one go.  So I've had to attack it in smaller chunks.



This is the pipe I've removed so far, sitting in the alley next to my house along with all the other crap I've pulled out during my renovations.

It has taken me three months to get this far.

There are days when I have gone at this pipe for hours on ending, listening to back-to-back episodes of The Tobolowsky Files, and all I've had to show for it was a hemisphere of a cut in the pipe.

I tried going at it with an angle grinder, which worked beautifully - until I ran out of space and couldn't get the grinder in without chopping up the (already shitty) baseboard on the wall.  And then it was back to the hacksaw blade.  Three inches at a time.  Two hours at a time.  Until I rage-quit.

There are times when you do some work that looks incredible and it only takes you a short time.  I converted an entrance hallway / mudroom on the side of our house into a walk-in shoe closet through the use of a few planks of wood and a series of hooks in the course of an afternoon, and it looks fantastic.  I sanded, stained, and coated two floors of the house over the course of a weekend, and they look amazing.

And then there are times when you struggle all day at one of the most benign, minor details that nobody would ever notice.  You spend an entire week just shaving wallpaper out of a single closet so that you can paint it a sterile white, and nobody even lifts an eyebrow.

This pipe is even worse.  Getting rid of it will be such a seemingly minor accomplishment, and yet until it's gone, there is no chance of the second or third floor sink hook-ups ever again being functional.  It's a tiny little irritant gumming up all the works with absolutely no glamour in its reward.

I hate this pipe.