I'm adding a utility sink in my basement. I'd like to drain it into a cast iron pipe junction, but I'm having trouble removing the old plug. It appears to have been sealed with lead solder.

I'm reluctant to heat this with a propane torch; I understand that would cause the lead in the solder and paint to vaporize and create a health hazard.

My other idea is to cut the cast iron pipe on the opposite side, which drains a washing machine, and replace that section with ABS.

Is there a good way to remove this plug? Or should I just cut the opposite pipe?

Thanks! pipe plug


  • Just fyi, cast iron joints are lead and oakum. You'll either need a bigger torch or to spend some quality time with a drill and chisel. (I'd make sure you have a plan to seal things back up first.) Mar 8, 2018 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


The pipes were sealed with lead. Prior to pouring the lead a packing material ("oakum" not sure on spelling) was packed into the joint. This material can be cut out with a screwdriver, trying to heat it would make a big mess. In most cases when I need to open a cast drain I will cut a small section out at least the diameter of the pipe but usually slightly longer. Once the section is out the pipe can wiggle and this makes removing the lead oakum seal a bit easier. I usually repair with fernco / no hubs.

The one caution cast is heavy and you have a verticle run, make sure it is supported prior to cutting or it may separate in the wall at the next joint or pull down on a toilet flange and cause a leak there. The one positive thing if you support the cast and cut in these pipes don't leak as often because the water is not sitting in the pipes.

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