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Question DetailsAsked on 7/14/2015

Replace 1978 cast iron shower drain set in concrete.

I have had an estimate of $2000 to jackhammer out the concrete down at least 3 feet. They would replace the trap, and also replace the cast iron pipe exposed with another pipe. All of this for a shower remodel--is this exorbitant?

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1 Answer


You did not say WHY they said it had to be replaced, or if in the course of the remodel the drain location is being changed ? I am assuming here you are talking a drain that goes down through an on-grade or basement concrete slab, NOT an elevated structural slab, which could be a whole different issue and can rapidly rise into the $1000+ range.

BTW - concrete slab would normally be 3-5 inches thick and the trap about 12-18" deep, so unlikely to need 3 foot depth excavation unless replacing the entire underslab pipe to the outside of the house, in which case it might well be around 3 feet deep, at least at the foundation wall.

Also - remember if doing more than a small hole to replace the trap, a slot excavation to replace the entire pipe should include drilling a foot or so into the edge of the slab and grouting in rebar dowels spanning the trench before reconcreting - otherwise you are inviting cracking and possible displacement along that line in the future.

If pipe is badly corroded or has to be relocated, then $500-1000 is more in the range of what I would expect for just a riser and trap replacement - but if based on a camera inspection the entire pipe was found to be corroded so they will be replacing the entire under-slab portion to the outside of the foundation, then that could well be a reasonable number.

If only the riser need replacing, so only about a 1 foot diameter hole through the slab is needed, this only take 1-2 hours with an impact drill or small electric jackhammer so $300-500 range would probably be more normal.

A shower remodel with the drain staying the same place does NOT necessarily require replacement of the riser, and the trap would usually be replaced only if significantly corroded. I have done many total shower replacements from pan up without replacing any of the drain components, or only the parts from the pan/liner clamp ring on up to the drain screen - the top 6 inches worth or so ofthe drain piping. Just takes a bit of care in removing the existing shower base so you don't damage the pipe - especially with cast iron or heavy brass. Plastic pipe not worth taking the care or the risk that you accidentally invisibly cracked it while removing the concrete - quicker and cheaper to just replace all the riser section.

Based on above, decide if you think getting another bid or two would be advisable - normally would be for that $ amount job - just remember to decide based on the overall package and how confident you feel about the bidders and their reviews or other recommendations, not on price alone. Other bidders should also be questioned on the trap and underground pipe replacement issue unless you have seen that that area is deteriorated - or was already leaking.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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