What Are Signs That My Cast Iron Sewer Pipe Is Rusting & Leaking?
From the late 19th century to about the 1960s, most homes were built with plumbing systems that relied on cast iron sewer pipes. While this was state-of-the-art technology at the time, today older homes that still have their cast iron sewer pipes in place often have plumbing issues. (If you live in one of these older homes, you might already be aware of this.)
Here are some signs that your cast iron sewer pipes are rusting or leaking:
- Discoloration or Flakin: This is one of the main signs to look out got in your cast iron sewer pipes.
- Leaks in cast iron sewer pipes: These are often indicated by drops of water around the pipe or pools of water collecting at its base.
- Cracks or broken sections: Cracks may allow debris to clog them and lead to further corrosion in your cast iron sewer pipes.
- Bulging or warping: Bulging, warping, or other visible signs of damage on cast iron sewer pipes, indicate that they are under stress and may soon rupture.
- Corrosive materials: These can include strong acids or bases that are seeping into cast iron sewer pipes from nearby sources like industrial plants, landfills, or leaking septic tanks.
- Inadequate or nonexistent maintenance: This includes neglecting to clean out debris or flush your cast iron sewer pipes with water on a regular basis.
- Rising levels of dissolved oxygen: Rising levels of dissolved oxygen in the ground or groundwater near cast iron sewer pipes, can accelerate their corrosion and weaken structural integrity.
- Trees and other natural growths: If these are growing too close to cast iron sewer pipes, roots can penetrate these materials and compromise their stability over time.
- Ineffective drainage systems: This can result in pools of stagnant water that may seep into the surrounding soil and promote rusting and leaking in or around cast iron sewer pipes.
- Poorly design or construction: Poorly designed or constructed cast iron sewer pipe systems that are not able to withstand the usual stresses and strains of daily use.
If you notice any of these signs in your cast iron sewer pipes, it's important to take action right away to address any leaks or damage before they cause further problems. A professional plumber can assess the condition of your pipes and recommend the best course of repair or replacement for your needs.
What Are Other Cast Iron Sewer Pipe Problems To Look Out For?
Cast iron sewer pipes are prone to the following problems:
Rust and Corrosion
Because cast iron pipes are generally thick-walled, a certain amount of rust and corrosion can form on their interiors without causing problems with drainage. After a number of decades, however, the rust level inside cast iron pipes can increase to the point that water flow is greatly decreased or even blocked altogether. Removing this corrosion can restore water flow, but will also make pipe walls thinner, making pipes more vulnerable to breaks. Severe rusting and corrosion can also cause holes or cracks to form in cast iron sewer pipes. If this corrosion is allowed to continue, eventually your cast iron sewer pipe can completely collapse, resulting in an emergency situation.
Uneven Pipe Surface
Another common problem with cast iron sewer pipes is an uneven interior surface. Over time, hard water can cause build-up inside of pipes. The resulting bumpy texture creates the perfect environment for hair, paper, grease, and other debris to get caught, eventually resulting in problematic clogs.
Tree Root Intrusion
Aging cast iron pipes can form cracks that allow tree roots to form inside of them, slowing down and eventually blocking the flow of water.
What to Do if Your Home Has Cast Iron Pipes?
If you live in a home with cast iron sewer pipes, it’s a good idea to have them inspected on a regular basis. Modern plumbing technology offers a number of solutions for problems with cast iron sewer pipes that are both effective and long-lasting.