Why Cast Iron Pipes Fail

Why do Cast Iron Pipes Fail?

Cast iron pipes, often used in older plumbing systems across the state of Florida, can fail for several reasons:

While cast iron pipes' life expectancy is about 50-70 years under normal conditions, various factors like those below can reduce their service life, especially in Florida's harsh weather. If your home was built before 1975, it likely has cast iron pipes. Inspecting the system to determine its condition and necessary remediation steps, if needed, is always a good idea.
Corrosion
One of the most common causes of cast iron pipe failure is internal and external corrosion. As the iron is exposed to water, it reacts with oxygen and forms rust (iron oxide). Over time, the rust can weaken the pipe. Certain chemicals in the water and fecal matter, particularly if it's acidic or has a lot of dissolved oxygen, can accelerate the process.
Intrusion
Roots from nearby trees can grow towards a sewer pipe, eventually crushing or breaching it.
Soil and Environmental Conditions
Soils with high acidity, chloride, or moisture content, like those in Florida, can corrode the outside of the pipe, leading it to fail. The salinity of Florida’s environment can also contribute to cast iron pipe failure.
Gases
Gases can make cast iron pipes rust and weaken faster. Moisture and oxygen in the pipes can make problems worse.
Age
As with any material, age is a factor. Older cast iron pipes can fail simply because of the wear and tear from many decades of service.
Poor Installation
Improper installation can lead to issues such as misaligned joints, which can become weak points in the sewer system.

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