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Residential Cast Iron Pipe Replacement
If your home was built before 1975, or if you're buying a home built before that year, there is a good chance it will have cast iron pipes. Because cast iron is so durable, it's been used for plumbing in houses and commercial buildings for more than a hundred years.
Cast iron was meant to last between 50-100 years, it can withstand high pressure, and it won't melt or burn. Cast iron was the gold standard for pipes in the early 20th century. However, despite its dependability, structures built in the 1940s or 1950s are reaching the end of their lifespan.
The Downfall of Cast Iron Pipes
Unfortunately, there are certain disadvantages that come with using cast iron for plumbing. When these pipes carry waste from your home, hydrogen sulfide gasses are created. When they oxidize, corrosive sulfuric acid is created and this acid is hard on cast iron. The sulfuric acid will corrode and rust the pipes from the inside out.
The rust within the pipes can gather in one location and restrict water flow and affect water pressure. If there is a change and the result is low water pressure, this is indicative of a plumbing issue. Odds are, you've noticed this and have called a plumber at least once or twice to clean the corrosion from the pipes. This is a temporary fix. The corrosion will also affect the water quality, making it questionable as to whether or not your drinking water is safe.
Signs of a Failing Cast Iron System
One sign that there is a problem with your cast iron plumbing system is a gurgling sound or the smell of sewer gas. The smell of sewer gas is a sign that there is a broken pipe. The break is releasing gases into the air that would normally be vented to the outdoors, and these gases are not healthy to have in your home.
Other signs that there is an issue with your old plumbing are roach/pest infestation (including rats), warped wood floors, water-stained tiles or grout, or water damage to your carpet. If you should experience any of these warning signs, your plumbing system is likely failing. The first step in knowing what your options are is to call a professional plumber for an inspection.
An inspection of your pipes will probably involve using a large amount of water to check for adequate drainage and pressure. That's one test that can be conducted. The best way and the highly recommended way is that an in-line camera inspection take place in order to actually see the condition of the pipes. The sewer camera can detect old rags and any other debris that might be clogging the lines.
Removing these items will help temporarily, but if this continues to happen, that means paper products are getting hung up on mineral buildup or jagged, heavy corrosion. Another task the camera can do is find rather obvious large leaks, and help you find the supply line before digging. What a sewer camera cannot do is detect small leaks or small cuts in your pipes.
Repairing or Replacing Cast Iron Pipes
Cast iron piping was meant to last fifty years or longer, but they will get old and start to deteriorate. There are so many factors to be considered when talking about the deterioration of cast iron pipes. There is no way to know when they will go bad, but it is certain that they will.
Eventually, all cast iron pipes will need to be replaced. A lot of people choose to only repair what needs the most attention due to the high costs of replacing all the pipes. Repairing the major leaks and cracks will buy you some time, but it'll only fix the issue for now.
It is also important to remember that any time a cast iron pipe that is located under a concrete slab is repaired, only the sections where leaks are located are repaired by some companies. However, this won't address future issues that may occur or address any sections with minor leaks not yet detected.
The cast iron on either side of the new pipe will eventually crack, crumble, corrode, and leak as well. Because of this, it doesn't make a lot of sense to locate and repair just the parts where repair is needed. Either way, repairs or total replacement of pipes in your entire house will cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000, depending upon how your house is currently plumbed. We will give you a free estimate and be able to give you a good guess of the total cost before any work takes place.
If your existing water line is located under the house and can be accessed from a crawlspace, this can save you money since the plumber will have an easier time getting to the plumbing. If your pipes are located under a slab, cutting through the concrete will be necessary to remove and replace the old pipes.
Looking for Less Expensive Alternatives?
Ask about our innovative trenchless PIPELINING Solutions! We have options that are less invasive and come with a LIFETIME WARRANTY!
Alternatives to Pipe Replacement
Slicing up the floor will be costly for the homeowner but necessary for the re-piping process. Re-piping your entire home will also cause disruption to your daily routine. If the house has a slab foundation, the best solution may be to use pipe liner to fix the existing plumbing and to forgo the expense involved in tearing up all of the floors.
A great option for replacing your corroded cast iron pipes is to install pipeiner. Pipeliner is what we refer to as trenchless pipe repair. In very simple terms, it's a lining that is inserted into damaged pipes, and it's very cost-effective.
The more technical explanation is to explain that the lining is a resin-saturated felt tube made of polyester, fiberglass cloth, or other materials suitable for resin impregnation. It is inverted or pulled into a damaged pipe to line it, which "repairs" the old pipe.
There is little disruption to you or your property compared to the traditional method of digging up and replacing old pipe. This pipelining is durable, eco-friendly, and lasts for decades. Pipeliner is also faster than replacing every one of your old pipes. Pipeliner is definitely an option to consider when you need new plumbing in your old home and worth inquiring about when you have your current lines inspected.
Pipe replacement can be complicated and the labor cost, along with the pipe materials, can be high. It can also be disruptive to your daily life, so it's a good idea to periodically have your old pipes inspected. Signs of a plumbing problem will be found during the inspection. Issues could be any cracks, pools of water, rust spots, and dimples in the pipe.
A comprehensive inspection by our licensed and insured plumber will help you determine if a full replacement is needed. Unfortunately, at some point cast iron pipes will need to be replaced and not repaired, so it's best to find a trustworthy company who is putting customer service first.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell if I have cast iron pipes in my home?
Generally speaking, if your home or business was built prior to 1975, there is a high probability that your building has cast iron pipes. If your home was built before then, and you are having issues with your plumbing you may qualify for a free video inspection and we can let you know for sure.
Are there any warning signs of cast iron pipe failure?
There are many warning signs that you may be having issues with your cast iron pipes. These signs typically include: Water damage and mold, toilets not flushing properly, plumbing constantly backing up, tubs and sinks not draining, pest infestations (roaches and rodents) and even foul sewer odors in your home.
How long will it take to fix?
The time it takes to fix your plumbing system is solely determined by the type of repair that is being performed. If a complete system replacement is being performed it takes a good deal longer than a plumbing re-route or pipe lining because your concrete slab must be cut open to remove and replace all the pipes under the slab. Call now to find to get your free inspection on your cast iron pipe system.
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