If your plumber has recommended replacement of the cast iron drains under your home, don’t accept the proposed work without a second opinion…
Here at Legendary Home Services, we receive phone calls every day from homeowners inquiring about replacing their cast iron lines.
As licensed plumbing contractors that work daily with cast iron pipes, we have amassed a wealth of information regarding cast iron drainage over the last decade. Through this extensive experience, we have compiled information to share with you. Our goal is to provide the most up-front precise information possible. We hope this will help you make more well-informed decisions about your drain pipes.
When people call us to book appointments, we will typically set up an onsite service visit to conduct an internal pipe inspection. Pipe inspections are completed through the use of drain and sewer cameras. This inspection is necessary for second opinions. During the investigation, we will look for material loss, cracks, holes, and evaluate the level of scale build up. Most of our inspections reveal fascinating facts about your cast-iron pipes. One fact in which uncovers that 70% of the cast iron drain pipes we inspect don’t need replacement.
What many people do not realize is that scale build-up will conceal the real integrity of the cast iron. When conducting a camera inspection, many plumbers will diagnose the scale build-up as potential pipe collapse or inevitable failure. This is simply not the case. In all actuality, scale build-up will act as an inhibitor protecting the pipe from regular wear and tear. Take a look at the three photos below.
These pictures were taken from a video camera inspection of a cast iron sewer pipe.
After viewing these photos, it may appear that a sewer replacement is required. Most plumbing contractors share this opinion. However, what they usually lack in their diagnosis is the genuine understanding of scale build-up. Scale within cast iron can be completely removed through the use of specific cast iron de-scaling equipment. View the photos below to see the same exact cast iron pipe, after a thorough de-scaling.
These pictures eminently show the real integrity of the cast iron pipes. As the photos depict, the cast iron pipe is still in excellent shape and is free from material loss, cracks, and holes.
Does this mean I do not need to replace my cast iron pipes?
There is a good chance you will not need to replace your drains. Only after a thorough de-scaling will anyone be able to see the real condition of your cast iron pipes. This is why we always recommend a second opinion sewer camera inspection, before making a decision to replace or repair your drains.
What causes scale build-up in my cast iron drain pipes?
Scale build-up is a natural process that forms over many years. Another term used to describe the development of scale is tuberculation. Tuberculation is the formation of corrosion deposits within iron piping. The corrosion deposits develop over time and increase in size. Eventually, the corrosion deposits take over most of the pipe. Consequently, reducing its carrying capacity of sewage water. With this level of reduction, your drain pipes will start to clog.
How can I remove scale build-up from my cast iron?
Unfortunately, this cannot be done without specialized drain equipment. The corrosion deposits within the cast iron adhere to the inner walls of the pipe. Without the use of very abrasive drain tools, these deposits will not detach. You will need to consult with a service provider that specializes in drains and sewers with abilities to de-scale cast iron.
If I complete a de-scaling, how long will my cast iron sewer last?
Research and studies suggest that as long as your piping was installed correctly, your cast iron should provide 75 to 100 years of use.
75 to 100 years? But most plumbers told me 40 to 50 years.
While there may be certain conditions that induce a shorter lifespan for your cast iron, it is much more common for the cast iron to last 75 to 100 years before a replacement is needed. Some circumstances can result in the rapid decrease of life for cast iron based on the use. These such instances exist in commercial facilities that have higher water use. Alternatively, restaurants that wash down massive amounts of grease will see cast iron not last as long.
For more information about the life expectancy of cast iron drains, please visit our article here: https://www.legendaryhs.com/life-expectancy-cast-iron-sewer-pipe/
If you are facing a sewer replacement for your cast iron drain pipes and are looking for a trenchless option, have a second opinion camera inspection completed first. This second opinion may save you a lot of money.