Cast iron seems indestructible, doesn’t it? It’s heavy, solid, and looks like it will last forever, which is why so many older homes were built with cast iron drain tunnels.
Unfortunately, cast iron is actually less durable than many other materials such as PVC piping. It’s extremely prone to rust and corrosion due to water, soap, detergents, and the other substances that go through the drains. When liquid pools in the drainpipes, it causes the iron to rust and eventually disintegrate. Once the pipes have started to crumble, it’s very easy for tree roots to grow through them and speed up the destruction of your plumbing.
If you live in an older home that was built with cast iron drains, it’s inevitable that those pipes will have to be replaced at some point. This is a big job and there’s no getting around that, but we know how to fix those rusted-out pipes without damaging the foundation of your home.
Repairing Drain Tunnels Without Causing More Damage
The biggest and most difficult part of replacing cast iron drain tunnels is getting to them in the first place, since they’re underneath the house. There are a few possible methods of dealing with this problem:
- Breaking through the slab: This is the most direct route to the drainpipes, but the most direct method isn’t always the best one! Drilling through load-bearing concrete is rarely a good idea and can cause major structural damage to the foundation of your home. It’s also loud, disruptive, and very messy, and can sometimes require the homeowners to move out for the duration of the job. This can occasionally be an option if only a very small section of pipe needs to be repaired or replaced, but it won’t work for larger jobs.
- “Trenchless” pipe repair: This describes two possible repair methods: pipe lining and pipe bursting. To line a pipe, a plumber inserts a flexible fabric tube into the existing pipe and then inflates it. The material is coated with a self-curing epoxy and essentially forms a new pipe inside the existing one. Pipe bursting is a similar process but involves pulling a new pipe through the old one, which causes the old pipe to “burst” outward and make room for the new system. Although this seems like an obvious solution, it’s not always the appropriate choice. For example, if the old cast iron drain tunnels are completely corroded, it won’t be possible to pull the new material through a pipe that no longer exists. The plumber may even be surprised by a blockage they hadn’t anticipated while drawing the new pipe through. Also, the process may not be truly “trenchless” since the plumber will often have to dig access holes at either end of the pipe.
- Tunneling under the house: When the cast iron drain tunnels are corroded or clogged beyond repair, the best choice is often to bore a tunnel underneath the house to access the pipes. This sounds like an enormous job, but it can end up being cheaper than the other two options since it doesn’t involve making extensive repairs to the foundation of the house and eliminates the element of surprise that can come with trenchless pipe replacement. Tunneling is the method that we prefer, since this allows to make extensive repairs without causing any damage to the house, as well as giving us the space to deal with any rogue tree roots that may be causing problems. Another advantage over trenchless repairs is that we can properly replace the pipes rather than covering over the problem with a liner or introducing a new pipe without removing the old one.
Call The Plumbing Nerds To Replace Corroded Cast Iron Pipes
The Plumbing Nerds believe in doing the job right the first time. That’s why we take the time to evaluate the situation thoroughly and explain all of the possible options for replacing old cast iron drainpipes without damaging your foundation. We never take shortcuts that could fail in the long run and require even more expensive repair work. If your cast iron drain tunnels are causing problems in your plumbing system, contact us through our website or call 239.288.0210 and we will come to the rescue.