Determining Cast Iron Pipe Integrity

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Cast Iron Pipe in Plano, TX

At In House Plumbing Company serving you is our business. We service the following areas of Texas: Plano, Richardson, Garland, Dallas, and surrounding cities. We Specialize in Cast Iron Sewer Pipe Replacement.

Today, I want to talk about determining the integrity or condition of the cast iron sewer pipe currently under your home’s foundation. We get asked all the time if we can run a sewer camera and determine the integrity of that cast iron. In short, the answer is no we cannot. It’s a horrible idea and we are going to show you why in this video.

Cast iron pipe was designed to last 50 years, and the overwhelming majority of the cast iron still present in homes today has already reached, or are coming real close to reaching that lifespan. The last cast iron installed in the DFW area was about 1986. By that time, most cities had already done away with allowing new cast iron pipe to be installed, back to as early as 1975.

We’ve seen our fair share of cast iron pipes, and what I can tell you about cast iron is if it’s not bad yet, it’s going bad, and it needs to be replaced. That’s just a plain and simple fact. If I know one way to look at this is, if you were going to buy a house that had cast iron pipe, we would tell you not to buy it without taking into consideration that you will have to replace it.

We have come across instances where a 20 year old pipe had the bottom completely rotted and rusted away, rendering that pipe no good at all. We have also had instances where a pipe that was 50 years old was still okay. The truth is, if it is a cast iron pipe, it’s going to go bad and there is no doubt it will have to be replaced at some point.

There have been many situations when we would go in and try to repair a cast iron pipe, only to find that the pipe would be brittle and many times would crumble with just the touch of someone’s hand. After spending the time and money to try to repair the pipe, we ended up having to replace the pipe anyway on many occasions, costing the homeowner more money than if they just would have replaced it in the first place. In the situation where we got out with just a repair, many times it took more to repair the pipe than we thought before the job was started and the bottom line is whatever you repair today on a spot repair, you are going to replace later, making it a total waste of time and money. It just does not make sense to repair cast iron pipe in DFW today.

With that in mind, we made a decision, in 2019 or so, that we were no longer going to spot repair, or just fix one or more leaks in cast iron. Because inevitably, recurring repairs cost our customers more money in the long run and replacement is a better, more sustainable solution.

Since that decision, our company will only replace under slab cast iron sewer pipe

Let’s take a second to make sure you understand the difference between repair and replacement. Let’s say you have 60 feet of pipe under your home’s foundation, a repair would be to fix 1 or more spots by replacing 1 to 3 feet of pipe at each spot. A replacement would be to replace all 60 feet of pipe.

You should also know that many times there are multiple options as to how the pipe can be replaced. We prefer to reroute the sewer pipes if possible when replacing them, which in a normal situation saves tunneling. Tunneling is the most expensive part of cast iron sewer pipe replacement under slab foundations and our rerouting method trades that tunneling for a trench in the yard.

Rerouting could save you a significant amount of money and is always the best option if possible, however, not all houses can be rerouted. When having your cast iron pipes evaluated, make sure to ask if rerouting is an option. and hire someone who has your best interest at heart, not theirs. A trustworthy sewer repair company provides you with all of the best options available for your situation and needs.

With all of that in mind, part of what I want to show you in this video is that the sewer camera shows that the cast iron is rusted. Some would say that in this situation, it’s still in good condition because it doesn’t appear to have any cracks, breaks, or holes in it.

The camera may show the inside of the pipe, and it may look okay, but one thing to consider with a sewer pipe is that you’ve got a lot of buildup on the inside of this pipe. So, even if running a camera through it, most of the time you can’t actually see the inside of the pipe anyway due to the soap scum buildup, sewer buildup, and all kinds of materials that are just caked to the inside of the pipe. Another reason why there is no way to determine the integrity of the pipe by putting a camera inside the pipe.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter what it looks like on the inside. One thing to really consider is the thickness of the pipe. With it being cast iron, if the inside is showing rust, so will the outside. Rust, and other factors from the pipe being in the ground, eats away at the pipe and makes it thinner and more susceptible to breaking. In short, it’s been rusting since the minute they put it in the ground!

There are essentially two things that matter. First, that it is working properly. Working properly means when you flush the toilets, run the sinks, the dishwashers, the washing machines, showers, tubs, and all the things inside the house, that the sewer and water runs into the sewer line and it’s functioning. It’s working properly when the water and waste flow through your line, underneath the house, and out into the pipes in the yard.

Secondly, what matters is if it is leaking. If so, what’s creating the leak? Is there a crack or break or hole in the sewer line? When the leak is under the slab it’s going to cause structural damage. It can lead to a damaged foundation, soggy carpet, cracked tiles and more. Another good reason for having your pipe rerouted is that the yard does not have a structure on it, so there’s no reason to worry about the types of structural damage these leaks can cause!

There is no way a camera can determine if there is a leak in a sewer system. How can you determine by putting something inside the pipe that water is escaping on the outside of the pipe? You can’t. It’s just not possible.

This is a huge misconception that our industry has done to people. I can say that at least 95% of our industry tries to find leaks with a camera, and tries to determine the integrity of the cast iron pipe with a camera. It is false. It is completely and totally junk science. Don’t fall for it.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what the inside of your cast iron pipe looks like because it does not give a full picture of what could be going on. Fixing a spot now could mean it puts stress on other areas of the pipe and then you’ll have another problem. Plainly put, it’s difficult to know the line’s integrity and how much longer it’s going to last.

Watch the featured video for this post to learn more about cast iron pipe issues. In this particular video, we will be showing you an instance of just how deteriorated a cast iron pipe can get.

Every house is different and it’s important to have a full evaluation to know what you’re dealing with.
Now, let me say one other thing about cast iron pipe. The pipe that’s in the walls is different from the pipe under the house. And we’re going to talk more about that in an upcoming video.

Feel free to contact us today at 972-366-6597 should you have any questions or to schedule a free estimate and consultation for replacing your cast iron sewer pipe, also remember financing is available and we look forward to serving you soon.

In-House Plumbing Company

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Say goodbye to water or sewer leak issues, especially ones under your foundation, by putting our plumbing company to work for you. We offer timely, sensible solutions and restore peace of mind without significantly affecting your property or budget. Contact In-House Plumbing Company today to schedule an appointment.