We know that the ancient Egyptians were one of the first people to create plumbing pipes made of clay to supply their homes and crops with water from the Nile. As time went by, they upgraded to copper, which was more durable and lightweight.
As plumbing systems advanced many centuries later, France distributed the first large-scale cast iron pipes in the sixteenth hundred, contributing as the forerunners to Europe’s sewer history. They believed it was the most robust material to transport water and sewage to a certain distance.
With that in mind, houses built in the 1930s had cast iron pipes in their plumbing systems. Creating this material was a highly labor-intensive job that only the wealthy could afford. Up to this day, it’s an expensive method of choice; and for that reason, PVC became the most common choice for building flexible and durable lines in more modern homes.
If you do find cast iron pipes in your home that are several decades old, do not despair. While it’s a durable material, it does fail over time. Therefore, it’s worth having an experienced Edmonton plumber to inspect it for you. Cast iron pipe repair is common, and we can fix certain small holes and leaks depending on the severity of the damage.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Cast Iron Pipe Plumbing
This plumbing system is most common in older homes built before the 1980s when people praised its durability. However, no building material is ever perfect and deteriorates over time. Well-maintained cast iron pipes can operate 60 to 100 years, whereas some show signs of wear and tear after 25 years.
- Strong and durable
- Resistant to fire
- High-quality material
- Can last for decades if housing location has stable weather
- Less likely to corrode in homes laid in sandy soil (well-aerated soil that doesn’t contain much water)
- Susceptible to corrosion:
- Particularly when laid in clay soil as it holds more water
- Chemical reaction with sewer gas (oxidation causes sulfuric acid)
- Expensive repairs
- Joints may contain lead
- Prone to sewage backups (due to rust flake buildup in lines)
It’s hard to say if opting for cast iron pipes is the right decision for your home’s plumbing system. Determining factors involve geographic location, weather, soil condition and thorough site inspection with your building team and plumber.
If your home already has an existing cast iron plumbing system, you will benefit from a licensed plumber’s inspection of your home’s overall plumbing. It will be vital to examine your line’s interior with a sewer video camera. If your Edmonton lines turn out to be in good condition and all you might need are some routine maintenance and drain cleaning, your team at Mr. Rooter Plumbing is happy to take care of it for you.
But suppose your system shows signs of a minor leak and other small damages. In that case, we can determine if our cast iron pipe repair service will fix the issue.
Signs I Need Cast Iron Drain Pipe Repair & Replacement in Edmonton
Cast iron drain pipes are strong, and yet they will eventually fail over time. Recurring backups, leaks and sewer smells are telltale signs of inherent damage that you can’t ignore.
Oxidation degrades metal, leading to cracks that could involve a damaged sewer line. If you smell sewer gas, immediately shut off your water and locate the affected area. It’s better to check if other sections of your line are in good condition. If they are also failing, a cast iron sewer pipe replacement would be your most economical solution.
Temporary solution: To temporarily fix a minor leak, you can use epoxy putty for steel. This might be a homeowner’s favourite DIY method to fix leaks, cracks and small holes, and you might be successful if it ends up holding for longer than expected. But it’s never too late for a thorough inspection from a licensed Edmonton plumber who can diagnose your lines’ exact condition.
Unfortunately, cast iron pipes are known for easy clogs due to ageing and corrosion inside. If you experience slow draining or sewage backups, a pro should inspect the insides with a sewer video camera to make sure it’s not merely clogged drains. If left untreated, it could lead to more drastic problems in the future.
If your tap water turns yellow or brown and your city confirms clean water distribution, you can be certain you have rust in your lines.
Edmonton homeowners with cast iron pipes should have their water tested for lead. Lead is known to cause learning disabilities, reproductive issues and organ failure. Lead is also known to be present in the joints of old plumbing systems, including cast iron.
It’s not always easy for homeowners to identify their plumbing system’s exact metal material because there are several kinds:
- Cast Iron
- Galvanized Steel
When in doubt, you can schedule an Edmonton home inspection with a knowledgeable member of our Mr. Rooter Plumbing team.
Leaking or damaged lines can affect your home’s structural foundation, such as walls, floors or ceilings. Even the smallest cracks attract rodents and insects into your home. Before you decide to hire endless contractors (i.e., foundation specialists or pest control), a certified Edmonton plumber can tell you all the work that needs to be done.
Cracked drain lines in walls or floors also increase the level of humidity, enabling mould growth in your home. Untreated mould will continue to multiply and damage your building structure, and worse, pose a serious health hazard.
Handling Minor Damages (DIY Friendly)
- Patch Repair: Quick emergency fixes involving repair wraps & epoxy adhesives
- Point Repair: CIPP (“cured-in-place pipe) is a trenchless rehabilitation method where you install a CIPP liner in a tiny section of the pipe to fix the affected area. (This method requires some experience.)
Handling Bigger Damages (For Certified Plumbers)
- Parts & Fittings Repair & Replacement
- Trenchless Drain Line Replacement: This involves pipe lining and pipe bursting.
- Traditional Drain Line Replacement: This process involves excavation on your property.
The Truth About Cast Iron Pipe Repairs
Many experienced plumbers have documented significant problems with cast iron pipe repairs.
They understand their clients’ passion and nostalgia regarding their old-fashioned plumbing systems. At the same time, plumbers want their clients to have a safe plumbing system that provides longevity and stability, ruling out any unpredictable surprises that will result in expensive future spending.
People have described repairs involving cutting out damaged cast iron parts and replacing them with PVC. Unfortunately, this temporary (and extremely inappropriate) fix doesn’t make the pipe leak-proof, and the cast iron will continue to deteriorate until you fully replace it.
As drain line repair already poses complications, cast iron sewer pipe repair will be even more complicated, offering no long-term results for our Edmonton homeowners. You can only extend the life of damaged pipes for so long.
In fact, some plumbing companies have changed their policies in order to protect homebuyers from insufficient plumbing work where sellers have ordered band-aid fixes instead of full replacement.
At Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton, we want to build strong relationships with our clients. We can only achieve this with strong communication, transparency and exceptional service. We always perform thorough inspections using high-end technology, during which we will tell you honestly what will be the best for you and your home.
Cast Iron Pipe Replacement Benefits
We understand that this is a huge investment, but we want to encourage you to think about the long-term benefits when getting brand-new cast iron pipes:
- Longevity of sewer line and drain lines
- Affordable trenchless pipe replacement available
- Minimum risk of backups
- Clean water
- Strong, durable and soundproof
- A new four-inch diameter sewer line can withstand almost 5000 lbs. of pressure
We are also here to listen if you want to learn more about switching to other more cost-effective options.
FAQ - More Questions?
We know how popular cast iron pipes are after learning about their nature. Many people are worried about old plumbing systems, but it doesn’t mean you can’t install new cast iron drain lines or sewer lines.
Don’t worry if you are still undecided. We have answered some frequently asked questions, and if you find yourself in the same boat as some of our clients, this will hopefully help you.
How Do You Replace a Cast Iron Drain Pipe or Sewer Line?
Since the invention of trenchless sewer line repair (and drain), there is no need to dig big holes on properties anymore. All we need are two small pits (access points) to perform the replacement, and it will all be done within a day.
How Do You Fix a Rusty Cast Iron Pipe?
Unfortunately, this is a sign of an old corroded pipe that will only continue to deteriorate over time, making your water unsafe to consume. We are happy to give you more information on affordable replacement services.
How Do You Stop Cast Iron Pipes from Leaking?
If you can determine it’s a minor leak in one spot, plumber’s epoxy will fix that issue for you. We recommend that you keep monitoring the affected area. However, if leaking appears in different sections of the line, you are experiencing a much bigger problem and should consult an Edmonton plumber immediately.
Are Cast Iron Pipes Cost-Effective?
It depends on your needs. They are expensive in terms of material and labour work and cost twice as much as, for instance, PVC. However, modern cast iron systems have become more adjustable, where fittings can be maneuvered differently to meet your home remodelling needs. You can’t do that with already fitted PVC systems.
What’s The Cast Iron Sewer Pipe Replacement Cost in Edmonton?
It’s not easy to set a number as you need to consider project size, amount of material (cast iron pipes can cost up to $10 per foot) and hours of labour. Our inspection will determine every detail of the job with no hidden fees or overtime charges. We will lay out options for you (trenchless vs. traditional) so you fully understand the procedure.
Cast Iron Vs. PVC - What Do I Choose?
You will need to ask yourself what you want out of your overall plumbing system to make that decision. Consider the things you care about, such as life expectancy, because cast iron lasts up to 100 years, whereas PVC can last 70 years. This is if you take good care of your pies and schedule your routine maintenance services.
Need an Efficient Main Drain Plumbing Expert in Edmonton?
Whether your cast iron pipe needs patch repair or inspection, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton provides quality service with effective results, using high-end technology for your plumbing solutions. We are available 24/7 for emergency needs, so you can rest assured that you won't ever have to wait in line for service.
Give us a call at 780-429-3600 to speak with our friendly customer service representatives about your needs or preventative plumbing solutions.