I live in an old house where cast iron makes up my entire drain system. I need to tap into the drain pipe in an area where space is too tight to use a reciprocating saw. Is there another tool out there for cutting through something as thick and heavy as cast iron pipe?

Ken Reed, Louisville, KY

Hi Ken. Yes, there is actually. It’s called a soil pipe cutter, also referred to as a chain cutter or ratchet cutter, and is actually pretty easy to use. The tool consists of a chain made up of links and multiple pipe cutting wheels, much like those found on a typical tubing cutter. You simply wrap the chain around the pipe at the location you want to make the cut. Connect the chain to the cutter’s housing, then pull the cutter’s handle. The ratcheting action cinches the chain tighter until it snaps the pipe. You’ll need to have enough room to snake the chain around the pipe, but only a few inches so this method often works even when drain lines are close to the wall.. Here’s a video that illustrates Ridgid’s powered cutter and demonstrates the concept well. One point to note: these tools aren’t cheap. They can cost several hundreds of dollars and up, so buying one may not make sense for you. They’re readily found at well-supplied tool rental companies, however, so call around your area to find one.