The Drawbacks of Cast Iron Pipes

Many older homes were built with cast iron drain lines, and the material is actually still an option for pipe systems today. However, there are so many other materials that are better suited as sewer pipes. There are quite a few contractors providing trenchless pipe lining in Columbus, OH.

There is next to no doubt that these pipe lining contractors have carried out countless cast iron pipe lining services to recognize that, while a suitable choice in some instances, there are indeed a few drawbacks to cast iron pipes. 

Your Pipes Will Corrode

Without getting too deep into the chemistry at work here, there are a few simple things in play with cast iron pipes that make them challenging to deal with. Sewage produces hydrogen sulfide gas. As this gas comes into contact with iron, the iron oxidizes – in other words, it rusts. Because the supply of hydrogen sulfide gas is practically unlimited, the corrosion process is accelerated and exacerbated by the constant chemical reaction. 

Soon, the inside of the pipe will begin to flake off and become rough, creating the perfect conditions for hair, grease, and other materials to collect inside the pipe, causing a clog and prompting sewer pipe lining. The corrosion can also weaken the pipe enough for tree roots to penetrate it, or even just enough for it to collapse from the weight of the soil on top of it.

Cast Iron Is Heavy

Now take a break from chemistry and look at the physics. You should know two things about cast iron pipes. First, it is assembled in sections, which means there are joints where the sections meet. Second, those sections are heavy. These two properties of cast iron pipe mean that over time, their weight will cause them to settle deeper into the soil where they’re buried. This settling interferes with the proper pitch of the pipes, causing them to drain less efficiently. The settling also causes the sections to separate from each other, creating leaks. These leaks are often best corrected via CIPP pipe lining, which creates a new lightweight but durable epoxy pipe inside the old cast iron pipe without digging it up.

Repairs Are Expensive and Can Be Messy

Because wastewater lines rely on gravity to work properly, they must be sloped downhill. This means the further they go, the deeper they are buried. Eventually, cast iron pipes can reach several feet deep before they finally reach the municipal line or the septic tank. It is nearly impossible to determine the exact location of a clog, so often the entire line ends up being dug up before the problem is located. Even if the location is known, it can often be more cost-effective to replace the entire line and avoid future clogs. Even more cost-effective is sewer pipe lining, which coats the inside of the old line with a durable new pipe-within-a-pipe that stops corrosion and leaks with no digging.

Joints Often Contain Lead

Cast iron pipes themselves do not contain lead, but the materials used to join together sections of cast iron pipe often do. Because these lines aren’t used for drinking water, there is no health threat in that area. However, the lines may release lead into the sewage system, which could allow it to leach into soil or even back into a river after it passes through a treatment facility. Probably the greatest threat from lead in cast iron pipes is when an unskilled person attempts to make repairs to the joints. Professional cast iron pipe lining seals off these joints and keeps lead away from humans.

Insurance May Not Cover Damage

Your homeowner’s policy provides critical protection against things like fire and severe weather, covering the repairs when something beyond your control damages your house. Unfortunately, many carriers consider cast iron pipes to be within your control. These companies know the potential is high for cast iron pipes to cause expensive damage, so they sometimes will not cover any damages caused by these pipes. Talk with your insurer to see if pipe lining is included in their policy coverage.

There are also numerous pipe lining companies that offer financing and other cost-effective options for property owners on a budget.

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