If you live in an older home, chances are you have cast iron pipes in your sewer lines. This material is common for homes built in the mid-70s. Today, building contractors still use cast iron pipes for most commercial establishments. However, they now manufacture these with ductile iron, which many recent studies show are more resistant to corrosion and are sturdy.
Should you have cast iron pipes in your home, you have every right to be concerned. These pipes are prone to corrosion (rusting) and calcification. Because of normal wear and tear, you may find yourself facing a sluggish drain. It can be annoying to deal with this pool of dirty water. Moreover, you could also hear gurgling sounds in your toilet every time you flush it.
These are telltale signs that you have issues when your sewer is no longer functioning well. When it backs up like this, you need to call in professional plumbers before things escalate to a complete blockage that can cause a disgusting backflow of dirty water. They can help you with your lines by conducting a thorough pipe descaling. Read on to find out more about this process and how it can help you as a property owner.
The Definition of Cast Iron Pipe Descaling
When you ask your plumber for this service, they will come with a specialized machine. This has a high-speed rotating cable with attachments. These tools turn super-fast as it traverses your pipes. As a result, they scrape away the heavy build-up found in the inner walls of your pipes. Through this method, you can extend the life of your existing pipes, which is more affordable than a complete pipe replacement.
However, if your property needs pipe relining, the team still needs to conduct a thorough descaling to ensure your pipe walls are clean of debris before conducting a new relining installation. Usually, the pros will also use a high-speed abrasive cleaning to restore the pipe to its original diameter. Certain plumbers add hydro-jetting on top of descaling to flush out abrasive debris. The combined methods help prep the pipes for epoxy relining.
The Safety Level of Pipe Descaling Method
If you are worried that your old pipes will get damaged by descaling, you should not fret. Remember, your plumber will conduct a camera inspection first before deciding on what treatment plan to recommend. The pipe descaling method is proven to be the most effective and safe, even for pipes that are decades old. Some say that this approach is even safer than the hydro jetting method ((although, as mentioned above, there are instances when they need to conduct both methods). Take a look at the differences in pressure of various methods:
- Traditional sewer cable pressure is 80 to 350 psi.
- Hydro jetter is 350 to 4700 psi.
- Soft bristle high-speed abrasive descaling brush is 35 to 45 psi.
As you can see from the specific figures above, the gentlest pressure comes from the descaling brush as it imposes the least torque or water force. Your professional plumbing company will do a thorough inspection to diagnose the problem and will recommend solutions based on what they see. Usually, they recommend descaling since it is the least likely to cause further damage to your cast iron pipes.
The Benefits of Pipe Descaling
You will find that these services come with a host of benefits. As a homeowner or commercial property owner, you must consider this for your pipes, especially if the traditional methods do not work. Let’s look at the significant benefits of this technique below:
1. Some Cases Need This Solution
Sometimes, a classic drain machine cable or a high-pressure hydro jet can make your pipes’ condition worse. If you have severely damaged pipes, you don’t want to exacerbate the issue. Thus, pipe descaling is the safest method to clean the inner walls. After all, you want your pipe system in good working condition, free from cracks and leaks after the cleaning process.
2. Prolong the Life of Cast Iron Sewer Pipes
After gentle descaling, you prolong the life of your pipes. Remember, descaling cleans your pipes thoroughly. As such, you restore the diameter to its original (or at least almost original) condition. With this, you are sure that your sewer pipes become optimized once again. Since the build-up is gone, your pipes can serve you for several more years. On top of that, since you use the least amount of pressure, the pipes will not receive excessive force.
3. Improves Drainage
Since pipe descaling is the most effective in taking out build-up, you will find an overall improvement in your drainage. Remember, your property’s drain does a lot of hard work every single day. In time, due to normal wear and tear, your pipes will inevitably be coated in muck and gunk. All this debris and accumulated waste lead to drain issues. As such, descaling cleans and washes away this yucky build-up that coats your piping system’s inner walls. Though the build-up does not completely block your pipes, it can slow down water and other elements from draining efficiently and quickly. If you find bathwater or the sink not draining as fast as it normally does, you need to call the pros for pipe cleaning services.
4. Keep Foul Odors at Bay
Even the cleanest and neatest homeowner will eventually smell sewer water at some point in time. This stench emanates from your shower drains. Typically, you will smell them after the following:
- Big rainstorm
- Heavy use
These are red flags that show you need to give your pipes their much-needed TLC. Pipe descaling and cleaning will deter foul odors. The last thing you want permeating in your home is the annoying scent of your sewage system. If you want to keep this away from your home, call a professional.
5. Prevents Further Damage
When you think of your property’s plan, you will find that the pipes spread all over, akin to veins and arteries in the body. These pipes traverse your whole home, including underneath the soil. With everyone using the bathroom and kitchen, your pipes take a beating. Thus, you must ensure you maintain your pipes through descaling and cleaning. Getting these professional services can save you money in the long run. Keep in mind; clean pipes will not clog or block your drains. As a result, you also spend less on household drainage and maintenance products, which are not cheap. Some of them can even make your pipe damage worse. For example, the chemical lye will cause further corrosion in your cast iron pipes. Thus, it is much better to seek professional help.
The Length of Time It Takes to Descale a Pipe System
The ballpark figure for descaling is estimated at 1.5 hours to 5 hours of work upstream and downstream. The exact amount of time needed to finish the project will depend on the amount of build-up in your pipes. Other factors that influence this are the length of your piping system, as well as the existing condition of your existing cast iron pipes. To help manage your expectations, allow at least a few hours. Professionals will need that amount of time to thoroughly work on your pipes. Besides, they need to do a visual inspection with a camera on a cable to ascertain and evaluate your pipes. If you are doing a relining, expect even more time as the sewer pipes need descaling and cleaning to be ready for this service.
The Standard Longevity of a Cast Iron Pipe
Usually, cast iron pipes have super longevity, clocking in at sixty to a hundred years of service, depending, of course, on use and maintenance. For this reason, you will find that most homes built in the 70s are still functioning well until today. The following factors will affect the condition of your cast iron pipes:
1. Use of Grease
If you do a lot of cooking and deep-frying in your home, you can expect more wear and tear on your cast iron sewer pipes. The fats in grease become broken down into components called glycerol and fatty acids. These elements bind to calcium in sewer pipes. Once the binding happens, the fat sticks to the walls. As a result, you will find sediments and rough structures coating your pipes resulting in a sluggish drain.
2. Detergents or Soaps Utilized
The types of soaps, detergents, body wash, or even shampoo you use all go down the drain. Some of them, like exfoliating scrubs, contain micro-beads that slowly accumulate in your sewer pipes. Over time, the residue of these products builds up to block your drain.
3. Type of Soil Surrounding the Pipes
Around the world, you will find different types of soils. Nature is flighty. Some soils are naturally more acidic because of the environment. If your property is on this kind of soil, you can expect your cast iron sewer pipes to deteriorate faster. The outer walls can experience corrosion quicker.
4. The Presence of Roots
Other factors that can affect your sewer pipes are tree and shrub roots. If you’ve got a lot of these in your garden, you could have a root ball surrounding your sewer utility pipes. Noteworthy, root systems are complex with structural roots and root hairs that can grow to more than 100ft. If you have a teeny crack in your old pipe, they will naturally gravitate there because of moisture. As they grow, they exert pressure on your pipes, causing more damage.
5. Use of Chemical Drain Cleaners
Do you often use chemical drain cleaners to clean your pipes? You may want to hold off and start reading the ingredient list first. Remember, cast iron pipes are unlike modern pipes. These old pipes don’t do well with sulfuric acid, which most drain cleaners contain. Sadly, these store-bought chemicals may result in more harm than good. If your problem is tree roots, these chemicals will not address the problem because the roots grow at the top of the sewer pipes and joints while the flow of chemicals touches the bottom. Hence, you are wasting your money in the long run.
How Much Does This Service Cost
Pipe descaling can set homeowners back by more than a hundred dollars. Extreme cases that require major digging and replacement will cost thousands. Sometimes, there are unforeseen circumstances that crop up after a dig. After all, you cannot see every angle of the inner pipe (more so the exterior pipes) even with most high-tech cameras. Thus, a pipe lining company may need to suggest other solutions as the job progresses. But a reputable service provider will inform you of this situation beforehand, especially if the camera inspection reveals that your pipe has a lot of unusual damage.
Find Out If Your Home Needs Cast Iron Sewer Pipe Descaling
If you live in an older home, you may be wondering if you will benefit from getting a pipe descaling service. You can call us at (855) 269-7473. We have been providing reliable and professional service for the community for decades. Our expert team handles both residential and commercial properties.
When you get in touch with us, we can immediately schedule a sewer inspection using our state-of-the-art video camera technology. Through this approach, we can look at your sewer line and evaluate your unique situation. After doing our visual inspection, we can offer you the most effective solutions to address your sewer and drain pipe problems.
Remember, always work with a reputable professional company that fully-vets its team members. After all, you are inviting strangers to your property, so you need a company you can trust. If you want to ensure durability and longevity in your pipes, our team at San Diego Pipe Lining is ready to come to your rescue any time.