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Discuss Mystery pipes - can anyone work out what they are for? in the Plumbing Forum | Plumbing Advice area at PlumbersForums.net

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My son has just moved into a ground floor flat in a five-storey mansion block in London, built in about 1905. The bathroom is being renovated and he has found two old pipes, one around 4 inches (I think) in diameter, the other a bit smaller, that are a mystery. They come down from the floor above in one of the corners of the room where the external wall and an internal wall meet; then do a 90 degree turn and run horizontally along the bottom of the internal wall towards the bathroom door; then do another 90 degree turn and go under the floorboards. Both pipes have quite corroded external surfaces as you can see from the attached pictures. There is no sign of any leakage.

The issue we have is whether it is OK to box the pipes in, but before deciding on this it would be good to know whether they are still live and what they are there for in the first place! On the first question, it would seem they are not live as there is never any vibration or sound of running water coming from them. On the second question, presumably they are too wide to be old town gas or mains water supply pipes, as the pressure would be too low? If that is right, presumably they must be old soil/waste pipes or overflow pipes - but why would you have one of them disappearing into the floor a few feet away from the external wall instead of going through the external wall, and in any case can you have a soil pipe or overflow pipe with a horizontal section as surely that would prevent the water from draining away properly?

In an ideal world, the freeholder (in this case Lambeth Council) would have the answer, but they say there are no records of communal pipes running through the flat. However, they only acquired the block in the 1960s (NB probably just after gas supplies were converted from town gas to North Sea) and probably have incomplete records anyway. My son and a plumber have looked in the building's loft to see whether the top end of the pipe could be identified, but that was no good as there are masses of old and modern pipes all over the place.

If anyone has any ideas on what these pipes are likely to be, we would be very grateful to hear them! Thanks, Mike.
 

Attachments

  • Mystery pipes going up wall and through ceiling.jpg
    Mystery pipes going up wall and through ceiling.jpg
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  • Mystery pipes horizontal along bottom of wall.jpg
    Mystery pipes horizontal along bottom of wall.jpg
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  • Mystery pipes with 90 upward turn in corner of room.jpg
    Mystery pipes with 90 upward turn in corner of room.jpg
    283.4 KB · Views: 25

snowhead

Esteemed
Plumber
Messages
3,411
They're screwed steel jointed pipes so are not rainwater or soil.
My guess would be cold feed (smaller) and expansion (larger) for a large boiler that would have been in the basement or an attached outbuilding.
Both heading for the loft and a feed and expansion tank, probably long gone.

The radiators and associated pipework were probably ripped out and either these pipes were missed or the cost of making good where they were was considered too much for the little benefit.
 
Last edited:
Messages
2
They're screwed steel jointed pipes so are not rainwater or soil.
My guess would be cold feed (smaller) and expansion (larger) for a large boiler that would have been in the basement or an attached outbuilding.
Both heading for the loft and a feed and expansion tank, probably long gone.

The radiators and associated pipework were probably ripped out and either these pipes were missed or the cost of making good where they were was considered too much for the little benefit.
Great,
They're screwed steel jointed pipes so are not rainwater or soil.
My guess would be cold feed (smaller) and expansion (larger) for a large boiler that would have been in the basement or an attached outbuilding.
Both heading for the loft and a feed and expansion tank, probably long gone.

The radiators and associated pipework were probably ripped out and either these pipes were missed or the cost of making good where they were was considered too much for the little benefit.

They're screwed steel jointed pipes so are not rainwater or soil.
My guess would be cold feed (smaller) and expansion (larger) for a large boiler that would have been in the basement or an attached outbuilding.
Both heading for the loft and a feed and expansion tank, probably long gone.

The radiators and associated pipework were probably ripped out and either these pipes were missed or the cost of making good where they were was considered too much for the little benefit.
Great, many thanks!
 

WC1

Esteemed
Plumber
Gas Engineer
Messages
1,081
Ask the neighbours. Often there's someone who will know what's what.
 

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