If your house was built before 1970 you’re probably looking into the cost of replacing the cast iron drain pipe running underneath it.
Yes, cast iron is a very durable material and pipes made from it are designed to last a long time, anywhere from 80 to 100 years. However, the actual lifespan depends upon a variety of factors and it’s possible that, in some cases, cast iron pipes will start to fail long before that.
If your house was built in the 1930s or 1940s your pipes are getting close to their lifespan and are undoubtedly starting to develop problems. However, even houses built in the 1960s are starting to have trouble with their cast iron pipes. One common problem with older homes is that the trees in their yards are also old. In many cases, they have roots that reach all the way down to the pipes. Tree roots and pipes don’t get along very well.
So, we hate to be the bearer of bad news but there’s no getting around the fact that at some point your cast iron pipes will need to be replaced. But, you probably already know that and it’s why you’ve landed here.
So, how do you know when it’s time to replace your drainage pipes? Well, let’s take a look now at some things to watch out for…
How do you know your cast iron pipes are in bad shape?
Foul odor or discolored water
Do you smell sewer gas around your home? If so, you may have a cracked pipe. Ditto for brownish or yellowish water coming out of the tap. Discolored water is usually a sign of rust or corrosion and that means your cast iron pipes are starting to reach the end of their lifespan.
Mold on your walls could also indicate you have a cracked and leaking pipe. It doesn’t take a lot of moisture for mold to form. Even a slight rise in humidity resulting from a hairline crack can lead to mold growth.
How fast does water drain after you flush the toilet or fill a sink? Sluggish drains may indicate a problem with your pipes. It should also be pointed out that the products used to unclog blockages contain caustic substances which aren’t good for cast iron pipes.
A lawn that looks too good
Do you have lush green patches in the middle of a dry, burned out lawn? If so, you could have a leaky sewer pipe. Remember, sewage isn’t good for us, but plants absolutely love it. So, pay attention to any particular areas of your lawn that look different.
Lawn or pavement indentations
Water from cracked or leaking drainage pipes can form pools under your lawn or driveway. If this goes on long enough you’ll notice that certain areas will start to sag and form indentations. If you see anything that looks remotely like this you should contact a sewer repair contractor immediately.
Take any cracks in your foundation or walls very seriously. They are one of the main symptoms of a damaged pipe and one that has gone for far too long without being repaired. Sinkholes could even form if you’re not careful.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you see actual sewage puddles anywhere on your property, you definitely have a serious problem somewhere. Don’t waste any time. Contact a sewer professional immediately.
Insect and/or Rodent Infestation
Damaged sewer pipes probably aren’t the first thing you think of when you see cockroaches, flies, or rats. However, they could be a sign that you have cracks in your pipes somewhere that are allowing them to enter your home. You’d be surprised at how easily cockroaches, rats, and other nasties can maneuver past even a small crack in your pipes. If you’ve been contacting pest control companies time after time only to find out later that the problem hasn’t been solved, it’s time to start suspecting an issue with your pipes.
The problem with repairing cast iron drainage pipes
It can be summed up like this…
You may be winning battles, but you’re not going to win the war. In other words, for every problem you fix today, there will be several that pop up tomorrow and demand the same attention. This is because the pipes are just plain old and starting to fail. If so, spot repairs to fix leaks may be a waste of both time and money.
Of course, we understand that it can be expensive to replace all of your cast iron drain pipes at once. This is why you’re probably thinking of simply repairing them.
The thing is…
The cost of all these repairs can really add up and in the end, you’ll need to replace the pipe anyway. It’s a short term solution that doesn’t pay off in the long run. If you’re having trouble with certain pipe sections today, what do you think that says about your pipes overall? If your pipes are all the same age, you’ve got problems elsewhere as well.
Ask your contractor if it’s possible to replace your cast iron drain pipe in stages. In other words, replace one section of pipe today, another in 6 months, etc.
The cost of replacing cast iron drain pipes
Of course, the cost will depend on a variety of factors including where you live. However, plan on spending somewhere around $175 per foot. Keep in mind that there are other costs involved as well, including the cost to cut and replace the concrete slab, the cost of a hotel (because you’ll probably need to stay somewhere else while the repair is taking place), the cost of replacing damaged tile, etc.
We’re Sewer Pros, a licensed and insured sewer repair and replacement contractor serving Los Angeles and Orange County and specializing in trenchless repair methods (i.e. minimal digging) including…
Structural pipe lining
Structural pipe lining, also known as cured-in-place-pipe lining (CIPP), rehabilitates a damaged cast iron drain pipe by using a felt liner and a special epoxy to create a pipe-within-a-pipe. The repair can usually be completed in just a few hours.
Cost: $135.00 to $185.00 per foot
When a damaged pipe doesn’t have the structural integrity necessary for pipe lining, pipe bursting may be an option. This trenchless method replaces the old pipe by pulling a brand new one into it.
Cost: $145.00 to $195.00 per foot
Spray lining or brush coating
You can think of spray lining or brush coating as structural pipe lining without the structure. Instead of using a felt liner to create a brand new inner pipe, this technique involves spraying a flexible polymer resin directly onto the inner surface of the pipe.
Cost: $200.00 to $285.00 per foot
If you’re having trouble with the cast iron drain pipe under your house, don’t delay. Give Sewer Pros a call today at (310) 564-2627!