The History and Problems of Cast Iron Sewer Lines

By September 21, 2018Blog
History of Cast Iron

History of Cast Iron Sewer Lines

Chances are that if you had the means to look into the underground beneath many major cities across the country, you’d see a lot of cast iron sewer lines under them.

This is because, for a while, this was considered to be the gold standard when it came to sewer piping options and it’s performed well for a while.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Even the best materials can’t perform at their top level forever. Many of the cast iron sewer lines that were installed under cities and homes decades ago are beginning to reach the end of their lifespans.

This is why it’s important to understand some of the potential problems these pipes can develop and what your other options are.

Let’s Go Back In The Past

First, let’s start the conversation with a bit of a history lesson. The first cast iron pipes in the U.S. date all the way back to the early 1800s. Don’t worry, these probably aren’t the ones under your home right now, as they were originally designed for water distribution.

Only later did they become commonplace for sewage piping. While other contenders would pop up over the years to come, cast iron was always a favorite due to its combination of durability and reliability.

It wouldn’t really have proper competition until the 1970s, where plastic options like PVC sewer piping were commonplace. Most homes built after the 70s use plastic in their piping, but that still leaves a lot of room for cast iron sewer pipes.

Why Is This The Case?

Well, in ideal conditions, cast iron piping can actually last as long as 75 to 100 years, even more in some cases. In rare situations, that may actually eclipse the two other main options for sewer lines, clay, and PVC.

With this said, that doesn’t mean that cast iron sewer lines are immortal. Human waste, certain detergents, and many other substances cause the iron to corrode over the time. When the thickness of the sewer line narrows as a result of that corrosion, the pipe isn’t wide enough to properly carry sewage out of your home and building.

At this point, you need to consider having it replaced.

There are other issues as well, especially for older homes. For example, standards can change over time.

A cast iron pipe installed 50 years ago may be significantly different than one that is 80 years ago, the same as you would expect from any structural components that were made 30 years apart. The problem with this is that just like anything else, there may be stronger and weaker brands.

As a result, some pipes may start to deteriorate way earlier than expected. Remember, that earlier example we gave was under ideal conditions.

Out With The Old & In With The New

Another issue that can be potentially problematic for people working on cast iron is the fact that, like older materials, it’s can be more difficult to both install and keep up cast iron sewer lines compare to their more modern counterparts.

Cast Iron Plumbing Expertise Is A Dying Breed

Some plumbers that you work with may not have the expertise necessary to work on cast iron sewer lines, or may end up charging you more for labor costs because it takes longer to work on. If you have an older cast iron sewer system, this means paying more, but also potentially paying more often—a poor combination.

Cast iron sewer lines are a staple of many homes, and while they have reached that point for a reason, this doesn’t mean there aren’t improved options out there to create a better system of plumbing for your home or business.  Cast iron sewer lines can be a hidden time bomb. Click here to find out why.

Many people are going to find themselves needing to change or repair their cast iron sewer lines due to the basic nature of wear and tear.

Whether you are trying to extend the lifespan of your cast iron pipes or make an upgrade to another option, it’s essential to have plumbing professionals do the job to avoid present and future issues with your piping.

Hernandez Plumbing is ready to help homes in the Miami area that are finding themselves in such a situation. We’re a 3rd generation family-owned business that’s been around since 1972. When you run into a plumbing nightmare despite your best efforts, we’re here to help.



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