Cast iron piping
Cast iron piping was used up through the 1960’s in our area for waste lines under a house. Metal waste lines that are now 50 or more years old experience interior scaling, occlusion (blockage), root intrusion, cracks and/or debris accumulation which all contribute to reduced flow of waste and an increased risk of blockage. Sometimes severe interior corrosion leads to what we commonly refer to as “zippering” where the bottom side of the pipe rusts completely through. All of these things have some degree of difficulty in identifying especially if a sewer camera is not deployed down the accessible lines. The sewer camera also has limitations as it is impossible for anyone to cover and view 100% of the entire piping system. The camera will reveal much more than a visual inspection but can only access and see limited areas. Sometimes cracks when viewed from a parallel perspective can be masked by scale, an unclear lens or not even visible at all. A sewer line scan is always recommended, even in PVC systems, but the buyer inherits a certain risk of failure in a system that is at, near or past it’s economical life expectancy. Your inspector or plumber cannot possibly take that risk for you, only reduce it. We are not insurance companies and warranties are not designed to take a few hundred dollars and insure thousands on an antiquated system. That would be like buying a house knowing that the 25-year-old air conditioning system did not work, purchasing a warranty and expecting them to pay for it.
The good news
The good news is that a process called CIPP or Cured In Place Piping, may be an option if you have or are buying a home with old piping. The CIPP process is available to supply lines as well as waste lines. These piping systems will be cleaned, repaired if necessary and re-lined from the interior. I read one manufacturer that predicted a 100-year life expectancy!
The bad news
The bad news is that not all insurance companies will insure all piping systems, supply or waste and regardless of age and condition. You will need to speak with your insurance representatives on your particular home and piping system.
The other news is that there is a lawsuit regarding cast iron piping that you may qualify for. Go to https://www.pipelawsuit.com for more information. At Home Inspection University – Florida, we also have classes on cast iron piping and all things home inspection related. Please check out our website for available courses, http://www.homeinspectionschoolflorida.com Our facebook page is full of information and short videos, https://www.facebook.com/Home-Inspection-School-Florida If you’re looking for a great home inspection company that also does sewer camera inspections, I just happen to know one, please check out our home inspection company, the Inspectagator, at http://www.inspectagator.com Lastly, our YouTube channel also has a lot of videos on inspections, drones and other things.
Our advice is to perform your due diligence without pressure and use every tool available to do that. This includes the right inspection company, the right insurance, the right home warranty and any other cost reducing inspections you can like wind mitigation or a 4 Point. Every purchase comes with risk, you can manage risk but eliminating may be impossible or economically unfeasible.