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Question DetailsAsked on 9/29/2017

We have aging cast iron vent stacks & sewer runs in an apartment building....who can replace these for us?

Cast iron pipes are 40+ years old, flaking inside, some cracks & splits....buildings are seeking companies that specialize in this type of or near Sarasota, Florida. Thank you. Jim

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If the vent stacks you are talking about are for heating system/water heater exhaust, then Heating and A/C would be the normal Search the List category for this type of work.

If sewer vent stacks, then those and sewer pipes would be done by Plumbing contractors. I have never heard of companies who "specialize" in sewer stack (the above-ground portion) replacement - plus undoubtedly from the condition you describe it will mean total replacement of the cast iron with plastic pipe, so pretty much any normal plumber can do that work.

Be sure to coordinate this work with any remodeling you need to do, because there will be wall and likely some ceiling openings needed to do the replacement - so if you have remodeling to do (especially bathroom tearouts) coordinate that work sothe plumbing replacement can be done while it is exposed. Best if a generally remodel is in the works to have the General Contractor doing it all, so HE is the one responsible for the coordination of tearouts, plumbing replacements, and repairs.

Also - be sure to inspect the water pipe condition - would be a pity to replace the stacks. DWV piping and then find a few years later you need to replace the water piping too, with new tearouts and drywall repair and such being needed.

Note that is it not unusual to redo the main stack and primary water feed piping (commonly involving whole-building shutdown for a day or two but in larger buildings is sometimes done only at night to minimize impact on the residents), then do the individual apartment piping replacements (and any other remodeling and wall repairs and such) apartment by apartment, using temporary junctions in the piping at the interface of the replaced stack and the yet-to-be-replaced individual unit piping. This way, though of course a bit more expensive to do it this way, most of the work in individual units can be done unit-by-unit as they become available as tenants move out. During whole-piping replacements like this (which commonly also includes HVAC appliance and duct replacements as needed) it is common to remodel a vacant apartment, then move those tenants (at building owner's expense) into the newly remodeled apartment, then remodel that moved-out unit, then do another tenant move-out into the remodeled one - using customized colors and flooring and such to suit the tenant (within reasonable limits) as an incentive to get them to move.

One thing you did not mention - the underground piping. It might well be that you need to replace the primary piping under the building and between the building and the public utilities. If those need replacing that also takes the water and DWV lines out of service for at least a day or two - though that can be minimized in many cases by preinstalling the new lines parallel to the existing ones so there is only an hour or few change-over time when the utilities are out of service. Plus for larger buildings temporary above-ground connections (including pumping for the sewage) is not uncommon - most commercial building plumbers are able to handle this.

Sometimes getting a tenant to move can be difficult (because they like the view, don't want the hassle of address change, etc) so sometimes a temporary partial move to a remodeled apartment will be done during remodeling on their apartment, then move them back to their original apartment and then do the same thing with the next tenant - that way there are no permanent address changes, though some phone landline wire rerouting or temporary runs have to be made to retain the original phone number during the temporary move - and cable TV hookups and such commonly have to be redone temporarily, so can commonly get into the $1000 range for such a temporary move.

Some building management just bites the bullet and offers to put the family up in a local motel/hotel for a few weeks till their apartment is available again - but that has a fair amount of $ risk if you have a contractor fail to perform in a timely manner.

As I recall, BOMA has published some guidelines on how to minimize tenant objections and do temporary move-arounds during such a remodel / repipe situation.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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