How To Cut Cast Iron Pipes

29 December 2016
 Categories: , Blog


If you have purchased an older home, you may have to cut cast iron pipe. Cast iron piping was the standard before PVC (plastic) piping. Don't let the thoughts of cutting cast iron pipes deter you. It is a simple task with the right tools. Here are tips to cut cast iron pipes.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • safety glasses
  • chalk
  • hammer
  • chisel
  • wrench
  • snap cutter
  • reciprocating saw

The method you use to cut the pipe will depend on its configuration, and the money you are willing to spend. Make a chalk mark on the area to cut. Chalk marks are easier to erase, and it hides the job.

Break It with a Snap Cutter

If the pipes connect to the wall, use a snap cutter. Snap cutter rental can be expensive if you don't use it often. Set a vice under the pipe, if it isn't steady.

Look for a steel roller chain, and wrap the chain evenly around the pipe on the chalk line. To tighten the chain, open and close the ratchet handle. Place as many cutting wheels as possible against the pipe.

Cast iron should be brittle enough to cut easily, but you may need to score the pipe several times before it breaks. Place enough pressure on the wheels to cut the pipe.

If you are cutting pipes in the ground, twist the pipe slightly before you make the last cut. Grasp uneven edges with a wrench, and use the hammer to tap them out.

Cut with a Hammer and Chisel

If the piping is not attached to the wall, a hammer and chisel is ideal. Be aware a hammer and chisel can be difficult to maneuver. Set the edge of the chisel on the chalk lines. Hammer around the lines, turning the pipe as needed unit it breaks.

Use a Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw has an attachment on one blade. These blades are commonly made from diamond grit or carbide grit to cut hard items. The blades don't produce jagged edges.

Attach a blade to fit. Set the saw on low speed, and keep the blade at a forty-five-degree angle. Squeeze the trigger, and slowly cut the pipe on the chalk line. You may need someone to hold the pipe for you.

Any of these tools should help you cut cast iron pipes. If you don't feel comfortable working with the tools, or the pipe won't cut, contact a plumber.