Cast iron pipes are strong and durable, and that's why they were popular for decades as plumbing pipes. Cities used cast iron pipes to route water to homes, and homes and businesses used cast iron pipes for fresh water and waste lines. When other pipe materials became more popular, cast iron pipes were used less. The practice of using them for plumbing hasn't been standard practice for decades now. That means if you have cast iron piping in your home, the pipes are pretty old and near the end of their lives. Here's why you may want to have them replaced.
Replace The Pipes Before They Fail
While cast iron has a long life, its life eventually comes to an end. When you have old plumbing pipes, it's just a matter of time before you start having trouble with them. Your home could sustain water damage, or sewage could spill on your lawn. You may not know if you have cast iron pipes, but a plumber can check your plumbing and let you know. The plumber can also send a camera in the pipes to check their condition. If the pipes aren't causing leaks now, replacing them isn't an emergency, but you'll want to prepare for that eventuality. If you're going to be renovating your home any time soon, that's the perfect opportunity to have the pipes replaced so that you eliminate the risk of a pipe cracking open due to old age.
Replace A Sewer Line That Leaks
When cast iron is used for a sewer line, it's subject to gases that speed up corrosion. That means your sewer pipe may fail before the fresh water lines. When a sewer pipe cracks open, it's an emergency situation since raw sewage could pool in your yard. If you smell sewer gas in your yard or your home, that could be a sign of a sewer pipe leak that needs to be found and repaired.
A bad sewer line can also develop clogs due to the buildup of corrosion. This might give you problems with drains slowing down and the toilet not flushing. You might get by with having a plumber snake out the drain to speed up water flow, but that's a temporary measure. Eventually, the sewer line will need to be relined or replaced once the cast iron pipe is in bad enough shape.
Replace A Leaky Fresh Water Line
If your home develops a water leak, you'll be faced with the decision of repairing the old pipe or replacing it. If you need to replace it, then you'll have to decide if it's time to replace the other pipes too. If none of the pipes in the house have ever been replaced, when one goes bad, it's a sign the others are probably in the same condition. However, a plumber can check the pipes and help you decide what to do about your situation since re-piping could be an expensive undertaking.
Another problem that might develop with old cast iron piping is that your water will become discolored or have tiny flecks of rust in it from the corrosion inside of the pipes. When this happens, you'll probably want to discuss replacing the pipes with a plumber so that your drinking and cooking water is clean and safe.