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Should you replace cast iron plumbing pipes with PVC?

13
Comments
Jack Moore Last reply on Dec 18, 2015

This was recommended to us- old pipes are rusty and leaky.

10  of  13 comments
  • 3sonscrazy
    3sonscrazy Fort Collins, CO
    on Jan 6, 2012

    I ended up being somewhat forced to do this as part of a much smaller plumbing project, so I think I didn't get the best deal I could have. Be sure to get some estimates and check references, as always.

  • Tri-Lite Builders ~ Homework Remodels
    Tri-Lite Builders ~ Homework Remodels Phoenix, AZ
    on Jan 6, 2012

    Cast iron pipes will last for many years, but they will eventually rust out from the inside out. The use of caustic chemicals to open clogs can accelerate the process. We work on many older homes with cast iron pipes. I never suggest that they be changed just because they are cast iron. I do recommend that they be cleaned out annually to remove built up crud.. I have seen 3" pipes that have not been maintained have only 1" of effective drainage due to build-up. If your pipes are rusting through, or cracked and leaking, it will be wise to change them out. If they are rusted through in some areas the rest is sure to follow. It will cost more in the long run to keep patching then until they totally fail.

  • Changing over these pipes to fix leaks is fine. Just understand that there are some drawbacks to PVC. The primary one is not using the correct pipe for the job. The PVC pipes you purchase at the big box stores Schedule 40 is ok, for small jobs. But if your changing a main sewer pipe going through the home, you want to purchase a heavy duty PVC Schedule 80 which is thicker. Primary reason is noise. One benefit of cast pipe is that is silences the noise when the water runs through it. The Schedule 40 pipe is noisy. While the thicker 80 works like the cast pipe and keeps the water noise down. While this may not sound real important. You have not been in a new home eating dinner in dining room when someone flushes a toilet on the second floor. Everyone hears it. Cast pipes over time begin to flake off in sections inside the pipe. Quite often you can see this result by seeing tiny rust dots or stains on the outside of the pipe. Once this begins the pipe is more prone to plugging as the interior of the pipe becomes rough and catches paper as its flushed down. When changing them, particularly when the cast runs up the wall, be sure to support these pipes when you remove the damaged section that is lower or below. A lot of weight is combined with these pipes and they can crack easily within the wall if the drop down because of poor support

  • One Man and A Hammer, Inc.
    One Man and A Hammer, Inc. Mentor, OH
    on Jan 6, 2012

    PVC carries no limitations or consequences if the proper pipe is used for the application. Just like with all products, some are better than others for the intended use. Be diligent in asking your contractor what materials are to be used, where they are to be used, and what options are there.

  • Alon Petersen
    Alon Petersen Cartersville, GA
    on Aug 29, 2013

    I wrapped leaking cast iron pipes is fiberglass matts and resin...no leaks 5 years later

  • Kitty Wiggins
    Kitty Wiggins Shreveport, LA
    on Sep 21, 2013

    I have a 100 year old house. The cast iron finally cracked. My plumber is thinking he may put back the iron. I'm leaning toward the PVC as the house shifts in really dry/wet weather. What would you put back ????

  • AL
    AL Boston, MA
    on Sep 28, 2013

    I HAVE A VERY SMALL LEAK. BUT ONLY WHEN I FLUSH MY FIRST FLOOR TOILET. A SMALL AMMOUNT OF WATER LEAKS ONTO THE BASEMENT FLOOR. I BELIEVE THIS IS THE OUTGOING WATER, WASTE ETC.. THAT GOES OUT THE MAIN 5 INCH PIPES. THE ACTUAL HOLEE IS 1 INCH BY 2 INCHES. THE PIPE ITSELF IS VERY OLD. I ASKED A PLUMBER, BUT HE CANNOT BE TRUSTED. I KNOW THIS. HE SAID THAT ITS A $5000.00 DOLLAR JOB. I KNOW THAT IS NOT TRUE. I ALSO DO MUCH PLUMBING MYSELF ALTHOUGH I AM NOT A PLUMBER. I HAVE CHANGED A GARBAGE DISPOSAL, NO PROBLEM, INSTALLED NEW FAUCETS, NO PROBLEM, AND PUT ALL NEW COPPER PIPES MYSELF. NO PROBLEM. BUT THIS AT THE MAIN SHUT OFF .AROUND NEAR THE GOOSENMECK AND COMPANION WITH PLASTIC COVER. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I DON,T WANT TO MAKE IT WORSE. AND I , AT THIS TIME DO NOT HAVE THE FUNDS TO HAVE A PLUMBER DO IT. AND THATS A FACT. I AM PAYING SKY ROCKETING HOSPITAL AND DOCTOR BILLS. OR TRYING TO ANYWAY. I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH LIVER CANCER 4 WEEKS AGO. CAN ANYONE HELP? THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR JUST READING THIS.

  • 22jonest
    22jonest
    on Jul 27, 2015

    I'm replacing my bathroom everything has been removed should I replace all the cast iron pipe at this time.

  • Cyndie S
    Cyndie S Rochester, NY
    on Oct 13, 2015

    Replace it and be done with it. Who needs rotting broken pipes?

  • Jack Moore
    Jack Moore West Jordan, UT
    on Dec 18, 2015

    I have seen a lot of issues with cast iron plumbing recently. I know it's a pretty common material in the plumbing of older houses, and even some newer ones, though it's rare. If I were you, I would replace it with PVC, as you're much less likely to get cracks, leaks, or rot in plastic. But if you aren't having any issues, there may be other ways to keep the cast iron plumbing if you'd like; Alon above mentioned wrapping them in fiberglass mats and resin, which sounds pretty smart. Hope you get it sorted! http://www.goldcoastplumber.com.au/

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