It appears that we are very close to getting the heat turned on. Yet there is a never ending stream of tasks emerging that we need to complete first.

There is not much plumbing in the house yet, other than the water main coming into the building. To start up the radiant heat, we need the basement plumbing done and connected to the heating system so that we can fill the two hot water storage tanks and the radiant floor tubes with water.

Before we can take care of the cold and hot water plumbing, we need to install the drain, waste and vent (DWV) plumbing. This is basically the plumbing that receives the drain/waste water from the sinks, showers and water closets and connects to the sewer.

But before we can get started on the DWV installation, we have to provide a PVC to CISP connection. The PVC pipes are for the above ground, or non-concealed DWV plumbing. CISP is an acronym for cast iron soil pipe, which are the new underground sewer lines we installed earlier this year.

Do you see what I mean by never ending stream of tasks?

I assumed that the PVC to CISP connection would be a simple gas- and water-tight rubber gasket, the same gasket that is used for the underground CISP sewer connections.

What I did not take into account was the dinosaur in the room, the Chicago Building Code, which calls for an oakum and lead connection from CISP to PVC. Mariusz and his plumbing crew knew about this and got to work.

A special PVC fitting is set into the hub of the CISP. The gap in the hub is tightly stuffed with oakum and at the end topped and sealed with hot, liquid lead.

Why does the code require this cumbersome connection? I have no idea. I can think, however, about a few good reasons why it would be worthwhile to revisit this code requirement.

Why are we allowing – or even worse – requiring the use of hot lead with all its fumes for this connection, considering all the attention and health concerns about lead in our living and built environment?

Why are we requiring a connection that is permanent and non-modular? If, for whatever reason, I have to change something at this connection, I will have to break it (the PVC and probably the CISP pipe) and start over. With a rubber gasket connection, I would have the chance to wiggle the PVC pipe out of the fitting. At the very least the CISP and concrete floor would remain intact.

But that would not only make things easy, it also would make sense. And we can’t have that.

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

One thought on “PVC to CISP

  1. Here’s the reason: It takes extra money out of the hands of city plumbers and building inspectors.

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