There is usually an underlying reason for frequent problems with drains clogging or toilets backing up. Except for occasional grease buildup in the kitchen drain lines or hair clogging a trap, sewer systems are maintenance-free.
What is the material used to make my drain pipes?
What’s the history of drain pipe materials?
Cast iron piping was used for water lines and sewer lines in homes that were built before the mid-1980s. PVC plastic pipes became more widely used in residential construction around the middle of the 1980s. Cast iron was almost extinct at that time for home plumbing systems. PVC was lighter and easier to install than cast iron, and it would not corrode. It was common for drain lines to run from the house to the city’s main waste pipes to be made of clay or terracotta before the 1960s.
In the period instantly following WWII, Orange burg pipe was used. This nonmetallic pipe is made of bituminized fiber. It was often used for residential purposes due to supply chain problems caused by war. This piping is found in homes built between the 1940s and the 1960s.
Cast Iron Sewer Pipe Issues
How did cast iron pipes get installed?
The different sections of pipe were joined with lead or oakum in the early days. This involved a labor-intensive process of filling the gaps between the hub joints with oakum, a fibrous material, and then pouring molten led into the gap to make a water-tight seal.
This method was eventually replaced by rubber gaskets in donut shapes called “donuts”, or “compression gaseskets” that joined the pipes the same way. PVC rubber couplings were also used to join the pipes with stainless-steel clamps.
What is the cause of a cast iron broken drainpipe?
Cast iron is heavy and very rigid. However, the way that the pieces are connected gives cast iron some flexibility. Cast iron drain piping is not easily damaged or crushed by soil movement or force.
However, soil movement can cause cracks in the joints. Water can leak out whenever water runs down the drain when this happens. The soil around the leak can attract tree roots, which will then grow into the pipe.
This will eventually clog the pipe. If there isn’t a major break, roots can be removed with a sewer machine. However, they almost always grow back making this an ongoing maintenance problem until the piping is replaced.
What is the role of “bellies” in cast iron sewer systems
Cast iron can bend at joints and cause water to flow unevenly if the pipe was not properly installed or there was significant ground shifting. Although these clogs won’t cause a problem right away, they can accumulate over time. These clogs are dependent on how old the system is, how often it is used, and how severe the belly is.
Do cast iron drain pipes corrode?
Cast iron piping’s main problem is its tendency to deteriorate over time. It’s only a matter time before horizontal cast iron pipes rust to the point that they are unusable. Our experience shows that older cast iron pipes are more durable than the cast iron pipe made in the 1980s and 1990s.
The pipe will rust regardless of its age. However, the majority of the corrosion occurs from the inside. Detergents and other strong cleaning agents can accelerate the natural oxidation that is caused by water.
Do cast iron drain pipes clog?
Cast iron sewer systems older than 50 years old tend to clog more often due to the pipe’s roughness. The rough surface inside the pipes allows particulates and grease to accumulate long before they have fully deteriorated.
These problems are exacerbated when water-saving fixtures are installed in homes during remodeling or upgrades. Low-flow toilets that use 1.28 gallons of water per flush are a particular culprit. They flush well and clean the bowl of waste but don’t have enough water to transport the waste from the cast iron pipe to the municipal waste system.
Is it possible to clean a cast iron pipe made from rough material?
Cast iron pipes can be cleaned if the internal surface is not damaged or has not deteriorated in any way. This will allow for better drainage. A drain snake machine will clear any obstructions in the system.
Once the flow has been restored, a jetting or chain machine will be used to scrape and smoothen the pipe’s sides. It will then be flushed down the drain once it has all been broken up.
What do I need to do to replace my drain system made of cast iron? Cast iron can be repaired.
Cast iron pipes simply experience more problems with age. Cast iron sewer piping can become very problematic over time. We often recommend replacing entire sections rather than just a blockage. This is often a better long-term solution than a temporary fix due to the state of deterioration and age.
The cast iron pipe can be adapted to new PVC using rubberized reinforced PVC couplings. Sometimes, the new pipes retain the original layout. Sometimes, the sewer lines may be rerouted in order to speed up the repair process. Find out more information about our sewer line replacement/repair service on our service page.