When it comes to construction materials, cast iron pipes deliver some key advantages that can
make them appear to be attractive investments for sanitary drainage. Prior to 1985, they were
used almost exclusively, and they are still a go-to in many multi-story condominiums and
apartment buildings. But along with these advantages come major disadvantages that can
wreak havoc on a building with age. So why were they used in the first place? And how do you
address cast iron pipes if you need to? Let’s take a look.
Why use cast iron pipes?
Cast iron pipes are very strong, supporting more than 4,800 pounds per linear foot. Because of
the density of cast iron, these pipes also help with noise reduction—a particular point of interest
in high rises and hotels.
Cast iron is also fire resistant, an important safety consideration for any
dwelling or structure. But despite these advantages, cast iron pipes have a life expectancy.
In Florida, where salt and water accelerate deterioration, that life expectancy is about 25 to 30
years. However, structures within a mile of the ocean—which includes many residential homes
and condominiums in South Florida—are all individually unique.
A range of variables, including natural deterioration related to weather, building movement due to wind storms and tropical cyclones, and salt concentration in the air are all contributing factors.
Additionally, this life expectancy is also affected by the wet/dry cycle: The pipe corrodes less
when it is kept wet. But when it dries out, it becomes more vulnerable to the natural oxidation
process while exposed directly to the elements in that dehydrated condition. It’s also known that
cast iron can get brittle as it goes through the flux of continuous use and then no use for
extended periods of time—a typical living pattern for seasonal Florida residents.
Regardless of these factors, with age, the pipes can begin to crack, developing faults
throughout the structure. Buildings closer to the ocean face even faster deterioration, as salty air
and ocean water speed up cast iron corrosion that will compromise the building infrastructure
Once the pipes begin to deteriorate, they will eventually fail, causing major structural issues like
water and sewage damage from leaks and burst pipes.
Do I have cast iron pipes?
If your house was built before 1980 in Florida, it was likely originally constructed with cast iron
pipes. With a 25 to 35-year life expectancy, if you haven’t already addressed your pipes, the
time is now. Get them inspected and begin to make plans and considerations for replacement
ahead of potential breakdowns.
Signs of Damaged Cast Iron Pipes
Damaged cast iron pipes can cause a number of problems in your home, including leaks,
progressive odors, plumbing problems and more. Some problems may seem relatively minor in
nature, but they can signal big problems. Minor leaks or even an off-putting smell, for example,
may all be good reasons for concern.
Other signs might include brown or yellowish water, sewage backups, plumbing problems, slow
drains, pest infestations, mold and more. Warped floors or baseboards can also be telltale signs
of water damage from pipe leaks.
Even if damages are seemingly minor, it’s very important to check the vitality of your cast iron
pipes if your house has them.
How do I repair damaged cast iron pipes?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of a damaged sewer line, the first thing you should do is
schedule a sewer inspection with qualified licensed professionals. Here at Pipelining
Technologies, we pride ourselves on timely, honest, innovative work that gives you peace of
mind during what can be a stressful situation. We do our inspections with high-quality,
state-of-the-art cameras that help us pinpoint exactly where your problems are.
Next, you should have a detailed report of the deficiencies, highlighting the problematic areas.
Following your inspection, you’ll next need to consider pipelining or traditional repair, a process
we can explain to you in detail, and you can read more about here.
Where can I get help with my cast iron pipes?
Damaged cast iron pipes can create tremendous stress for homeowners and building managers
alike. Along with making home/unit repairs from any existing pipe problems, there is also the
anxiety of potential new ones.
We get it, and we can help! At Pipelining Technologies, we are
the trenchless pipelining experts, and we’ve seen it all. We’re here to help with leading
technology to help diagnose problems and create lasting solutions and a team of talented
experts to help get you back to normal.
Contact us any time for a cast iron pipe consultation: (561) 853-5463.