If your home was built before 1970, the likelihood that the pipes are made of cast iron is very high.

If you’re having problems with your plumbing, you may want to have a professional plumber look at these older pipes to ensure that they are still intact.

The use of cast iron pipes in plumbing systems for homes and businesses has been used for many hundreds of years and the reason is because the material is so strong and resistant.

BUT (yes, unfortunately there is a BUT) – the longevity of this material does have it’s limits.

The Trouble With Cast Iron and Galvanized Pipes For Plumbing

Most every material on the planet has a limited lifespan. As durable as cast iron pipes are, they too have their limitations.

There are 2 main factors that affect the quality of cast iron or galvanized pipes when used for plumbing purposes.

  1. Mineral Buildup: A common problem with any material used in plumbing is mineral buildup and calcification. As food, grease, hair, lint, etc. move through the pipes on a daily basis, it’s almost inevitable that some form of buildup will occur.Cast iron pipes are not immune to these issues.
  2. Corrosion and Rust: A problem specific to any type of metal pipe, is that of corrosion and rust. Initially, cast iron or galvanized pipes will begin to develop pits which in turn creates a rough surface which then captures lint, hair, food, etc. as it attempts to pass through.This then helps to create clogs in the pipes.

The cast iron pipes that carry waste from your bathrooms are especially susceptible to corrosion and rust. In these pipes, hydrogen sulfide gasses are created and eventually oxidize. As a result, sulfuric acid is created which is very corrosive. This then begins rusting the pipes from within.

Here at Atlantis Plumbing in Atlanta, we successfully use camera inspections to check the integrity of your pipes, whether they are cast iron or plastic.

It’s the best way to identify if there are any problems and where those problems may be located.

Should You Replace Your Old Cast Iron Pipes?

If your home does have old cast iron pipes and you are having plumbing problems, you may be wondering if it’s time to replace them?

It’s true that today’s plastic pipes are much stronger, smoother and because they’re plastic will resist the usual corrosion and rust problems.

But – depending on the severity of your plumbing problems it’s not always 100% necessary to replace your older pipes.

Consult with a professional plumber for this decision. The truth is, every case is different.

In the meantime, there are some things that you can do to minimize any more damage to your older cast iron pipes.

  1. Use strainers to capture food, lint, hair, grease, etc. to prevent them from going into the pipes at all.
  2. Schedule a weekly “cleaning” of your pipes. Pour 3-4 gallons of boiling hot water down your drains. This helps to break up soap scum and other buildup in the pipes.
  3. Schedule a monthly use of a “drain cleaner” to help to dissolve any food, grease, etc. in the pipes.
  4. If you notice a slow drain anywhere, immediately use your toilet plunger to dislodge the clog. Don’t wait for the clog to get bigger.

How Long Will Cast Iron Pipes Last?

In general, with average usage, the lifespan of cast iron pipes is 75-100 years. But as we said before in this article, each case is different. Depending on the type of materials that have been poured down those pipes, the amount and frequency, all will affect the integrity of the cast iron pipes.

If you have any questions about cast iron or galvanized pipes in your plumbing system, or if you are experiencing problems with your plumbing in the Atlanta, Ga area – contact Atlantis plumbing today. Call us at 770-505-8570or email us today.