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How to Unclog Cast Iron Pipes

How to Unclog Cast Iron Pipes

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How to Unclog Cast Iron Pipes

As a civilization, we’ve been developing ways to move water from one place to another since even before the Roman aqueducts. Cast iron pipes are just one of these methods, and their use dates back to the 17th century when only the wealthiest of the wealthiest could afford such an innovation. Cast iron pipes in the U.S. date back to the early 19th century and became relatively common for use in indoor plumbing by the 1930s.

At the time, cast iron pipes were the strongest material available and could stand up to full capacity water pressure. They were created using molds and were held together with screws and joints. The problem with cast iron pipes is that they are nearing the end of their life expectancy. Yet, they are still in place in many older homes since they didn’t go out of vogue until the 1980s when PVC pipes took over. PVC pipes are cheaper to make and have the strength and durability for long-term use. 

Old cast iron pipes are vulnerable to tree root damage, resulting in dangerous black water and contamination from rust, fungus, and bacteria, which can cause illness. So if you’re wondering how to unclog cast iron pipes and are seeing black water in your home, the issue may not be a clog. Not to mention damaged pipes can cause serious problems with standing water inside and outside the home, which draws more hazards like mosquitos. Broken or damaged pipes also give rodents and roaches access to your drinking water and home.

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan

  • Can cast iron sewer lines be cleaned?

    Cleaning old cast iron pipes requires special care but the best way to avoid issues is to maintain them properly. That means keeping your pipes clear by avoiding pouring grease down the drains and using shower drain protectors to keep excessive hair going down the drain. However, there is no way to stop buildup from happening completely, especially over time. 

    There are a number of routes to take when unclogging old cast iron pipes, one of which is called cabling. The cabling method uses a plumbing snake to clear clogged pipes, but it doesn’t help with the issue of buildup. Using a plumbing snake to clean a cast iron pipe doesn’t do much if your goal is to get it back to its original flow capacity. If you want to try this first, run hot water and soap down the drain first to loosen up some of the debris.

    Another method to try is hydro jetting which can break down sludge that builds up, but still, this method won’t do much to remove hard, old buildup inside the pipes. Hydro jetting uses high-powered flowing water pressure and special nozzles that act as razor blades. The downside of this method is that it requires a lot of water and is problematic for indoor issues because of the potential for flooding.

    One newer technology is known as pictote descaling, which causes high-powered, cyclonic spinning air to be forced down the pipes. It has a central chain in the middle of the pipe, which doesn’t hit the sides of cast iron pipes, which is better for this kind of older plumbing. Another benefit to this method is that it doesn’t use or wastewater, so there’s no danger of flooding your home’s interior. 

    Most plumbers won’t recommend drain cleaners, however, especially on old cast iron pipes because they are prone to corrosion which can cause perforations. Perforations in your plumbing are an invitation to disease-causing bacteria and pest infiltration.

  • Are there other dangers of using cast iron pipes?

    Old cast iron pipe connections and joints often contain lead which has well-documented health concerns. When trying to repair these old pipes, only use a qualified professional contractor. Another concern is that since cast iron is made of metal, human waste matter going through the pipes naturally produces hydrogen sulfide gas which oxidizes into sulfuric acid and can cause the pipes to rust from the inside out. Rust builds up and then swells to create a blockage, resulting in sewage backing up into the home, which has its obvious health hazards. 

    Old corroded pipes could be leaking for a long time unnoticed until mold develops, leading to other health concerns. Mold grows well in drywall, fabric, upholstery, ceiling tiles, wood, and insulation. Some people are likely to have severe reactions to mold exposure, like asthma. And children exposed to mold that are genetically predisposed to asthma have a greater chance of developing it.

    Suppose water damage in the home had occurred previously. In that case, renters could be unknowingly exposed to the dangers of mold, particularly if a negligent landlord didn’t replace carpets, insulation, and drywall that got wet.

    When a landlord ignores old damaged pipes, renters also run the risk of having their personal property damaged since it can become an emergency situation if the pipes burst. Filthy water not only causes water damage to belongings, but the hazardous contaminants could make you lose all your possessions.

  • What types of homes are prone to cast iron pipe issues?

    If you own or rent a home that was built in the 1980s or earlier, you could have a problem with cast iron pipes. Cast iron pipes have a lifespan that lasts between 50 and 100 years, but other factors could shorten that lifespan. Issues like hard water, tree roots, and the habits of the home’s residents all impact the length of time cast iron pipes can remain sound. 

  • I’m a renter; what should I do about clogged cast iron pipes?

    It used to be that a landlord-tenant relationship was largely one-sided, and the landlord ruled the roost. The tenant was responsible for keeping the premise safe and repaired. However, with a shift towards supporting the rights of consumers, modern laws have swung that responsibility back to the landlord.

    Landlords today are obligated to maintain, repair, and make safe residential premises when they rent them out. Otherwise, they can be liable for a tenant’s injuries should they come to harm. Here are some reasons why a landlord could be on the hook if old damaged cast iron pipes have injured you.

    Latent defects - A landlord is strictly liable for injuries from latent defects that exist in the dwelling at the time the lease is signed. In legalese, a latent defect is a concealed or dangerous defect that a landlord knows about or should have known about. It’s not enough that a renter did a pre-inspection of the home’s condition prior to signing the lease because these kinds of defects are not necessarily discoverable during a layperson’s inspection. These defects typically involve things like plumbing, electrical components, and damaged HVAC systems. In the instance of cast iron plumbing, you may not have known that the pipes were corroded and leaking raw sewage into the home or leaving you vulnerable to dampness and disease. 

    Common areas - If you live in an apartment building or rent a room in a house, the landlord is responsible for keeping common areas safe such as lobbies, halls, passageways. Suppose you rent an apartment and there is a shared laundry area. If cast iron pipes are corroded, contaminants could be seeping into the wash water, causing allergic reactions or illness. If the landlord is aware of the problem and doesn’t warn tenets, the landlord could be liable for your injuries. 

    Negligent landlord repairs - When a landlord makes repairs to a rented home, the landlord has an obligation to perform those repairs competently. If a tenant comes to harm from faulty maintenance, the landlord is liable. For example, suppose your landlord recognizes there is an issue with the old cast iron pipes and tries to make repairs that they are not professionally capable of making to save a few bucks. You then find out those faulty repairs cause you to become sick from exposure to pathogens. In that case, that landlord may be liable for your illness.

    Landlord’s duty to repair- Most states have something like a residential landlord and tenant act that governs what is and what is not the responsibility of landlords. Depending on your state laws, your landlord may have a duty to repair defects, and when they do, they must do so competently. Suppose they do not execute their responsibilities in a competent manner. In that case, they leave themselves vulnerable to liability for injuries they cause. 

  • How can a personal injury attorney help me with a premise liability claim?

    Researching how to unclog cast iron pipes may have led you on a different journey than intended once you’ve been made aware of your rights as a tenant. Illness, disease, and destruction of personal property due to negligence is no minor problem. Our personal injury lawyers can help you build a case against your landlord for negligence and recover money for things like medical bills, emotional distress, and destruction of your property in some cases. 

    First, we determine if you have a good case when you contact us for a free case evaluation. If we feel like there is a good chance of winning, we take on your case under a contingency fee arrangement, meaning you don’t pay for our services unless we win your case for you. Then, we work on gathering evidence such as your medical bills and prognosis, we calculate lost wages and any other losses you’ve suffered due to negligence. We handle all negotiations with your landlord and their insurance company to gain you a favorable settlement. However, if no settlement can be reached, we will take your claim to court, representing you. 

    Morgan & Morgan Law Firm has represented tens of thousands of people just like you that have come to harm due to someone else’s greed or negligence. Landlords have a duty to make sure the dwellings they rent out are safe, and we can hold them accountable if they fail in this duty. Don’t wait any longer if you suspect faulty cast iron pipes are causing your health issues. Our lawyers can help.

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