Does anyone know the live cycle of cast iron sewer pipes? I am in a home built in 1972 approx. The sewer pipes are "sweating", have groups of build up around some of the joints and occasionally appear to leak rusty stuff (doesn't smell yet, but not sure what's happening). One of the pipes in question runs through the poured basement wall and out to the sewer connection.
Should I get these replaced? If so with what - PVC?
be patient..you'll eventually get decent responses.
i've done some sewer plumbing, but have seldom encountered c.i.p. it is heavy (of course), difficult to work with, and not seen much here in the deep south..
my amateurish guess is that the condensation is not serious, although someone could have to eventually repack the joints..some old stuff is leaded joints and we used to replace with pvc, rather than repair, whenever much labor was involved..but their could be climactic constraints to using pvc in michigan.
Don't be in a rush to get rid of your cast iron pipes...they will last almost forever, and might need to be cleaned once every fifty years or so. They are as quiet as PVC pipes are noisy, and as strong as PVC pipes are fragile. Have a good old-fashioned plumber look at your joints and advise you. The sweating may be due to cold water running inside the pipes in a humid climate, and the cure for that would be to insulate the pipes.
Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
The cast iron joints in 1972 were put together by pouring hot liquid lead into the joint after packing with "oakum". The oakum swells when contacted with water.
The original plumber may not have packed the joints tightly or didn't "caulk" the joints. Caulking doesn't mean installing liquid sealer, in this case it means seating the lead by tapping with a hammer and "caulking iron".
Call a plumber for review or you might try taking a dull chisel or real wide screwdriver and tapping the lead ring tight with a hammer. Clean up the outside of the cast iron with whatever works.
Cast iron normally will last 50-100 years and a lot of old pipe develop encrustation around the joints. Normally the old pipes will tend to seal themselves. Cracking down the length of the pipe will have to be replaced.
I also live in a home built in 72. It also has cast iron pipes. I had a problem occur with my washing machine discharge, it would overflow back into the laundry room. Once I finally figured want was going on I called a plumber out to do whatever he could to open up the blockage in the drain. Two people came out, worked for about 1 hour and told me they couldn't get the clean out traps opened and had done all they could. At $150.00 an hour I said thanks, see you later. The drainage was a little improved, but not sufficient enough and I still had a back up problem. Long story...here is what I have learned. Yes cast Iron will last a long time, BUT it tends to build up rust/residue on the inside which causes restiction to water flow. I live in a ranch style home with a good sized crawl space, am still young enough and cheap enough to take on as much repair work as I can. I cut out the old cast iron section and replaced it with PVC. My plans in the future are to continue replacing sections of the old pipe as I remodel. Hope that gives you food for thought. JL
J. T. Ligon
Ligon Marine Systems
Wilmington, NC 28409
Thanks for the insight. I had a few plumbers come out and give me estimates/evaluation of the situation. Here is what I got. First one, did not want to tackle the problem as it dealt with cast pipes unless he could leave them in the basement and I would have to dispose of them. Second wanted to charge me to do an estimate. Third came out, very kind per my father who was here while I was away. He went through everything and concluded that the joints were only completed with a rubber boot with hose clamp and the pipes were actually rotting. There are holes in a few, with minimal seepage and in particular the main sewer pipe coming through the basement wall, which is very rotted. This pipe probably started to rot from the outside of the house but since they never cemented the basement wall in, only backfilled it, this allowed water to sit around the pipe for years.
There are two drains that I have difficulty with and I asked if I should "snake" them. These pipes drain directly into the area that is very bad. I was told not to "snake" anything until the other pipes were replaced with PVC as there may be a build up inside the pipes not allowing proper flow, but could also be the only thing holding the pipes together at this time. Since most of this is in my basement, I don't care to try this to prove him right or wrong. I'm taking his word for it since it sounds logical to me.
I will let you know how things go after I have the work completed. I would do this myself, but since this ties into our local sewer system outside, they insist that I have the connection completed by a licensed plumber. I'll let him do the whole thing. Sounds very "messy" to me.
Good luck on your project too.
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