At the American Drain Company, one of the more interesting but common issues that we see in older homes is the presence of Orangeburg piping. These pipes are known to exist in older homes and are also known to degrade over time, causing numerous problems in the homes that they exist in. Do you have an older home that is showing signs of plumbing issues? Here is how to tell if Orangeburg piping is the issue. If you have Orangeburg pipes, contact us today to get them repaired!
What is Orangeburg Pipe?
Orangeburg pipe, also known as bituminous fiber pipe, was a popular sewer and drainage pipe material used in the mid-20th century. Originally manufactured by Orangeburg Manufacturing, this (at the time) revolutionary technology was easy to cut and work with, making it highly regarded among plumbers from around the 1940s to 1970s.
Orangeburg sewer pipe was made from layers of wood pulp and pitch, then pressed together to form a lightweight, economical alternative to metal or concrete pipes. However, it proved to be susceptible to deterioration and collapse over time. After widespread usage, it was discovered that these pipes have a lifespan of no more than 50 years, meaning that the majority of homes with Orangeburg pipes have failing plumbing systems. By the 1970s, it was largely discontinued. Today, Orangeburg pipe is considered outdated and is often replaced with more durable materials like PVC or HDPE.
Why Are Orangeburg Pipes So Susceptible to Damage?
Orangeburg sewer piping is constructed out of wood shavings combined with a water-resistant adhesive that does not hold up well as the pipes get older. Since wood is the secondary material used in this piping is wood, when the adhesive wears out, the pipes themselves take on moisture, resulting in poor performance.
How to Identify Orangeburg Pipe
Identifying Orangeburg pipe involves several key characteristics. It typically has a distinctive, dark brown or black color, resembling a rough cardboard texture. Its surface may feel slightly spongy to the touch. Orangeburg pipes are often found in older homes built between the 1860s and 1970s. To confirm its presence, look for stamped markings along the pipe's surface indicating "OC," "Orangeburg," or similar terms. However, professional assessment is recommended, as deterioration can make identification challenging. If unsure, consult a licensed plumber or contractor who can employ specialized techniques like video inspection to accurately determine if Orangeburg pipe is in use.
What to Do if You Have Orangeburg Sewer Pipes
Towards the end of their lifespan, Orangeburg sewer pipes break down, allowing roots to damage your piping, obstructions in your piping, and sewage smells to invade your home. If you have noticed any of these things in your home, the cause may be degrading Orangeburg piping.
Unfortunately, fixing an Orangeburg pipe problem in your home is not easy and it’s very expensive. In most cases, it requires a full sewer system replacement. Because of the extent of the replacement needed, you need to find an experienced plumber to get the job done well.
If you have discovered that your home has Orangeburg sewer piping, you need to get your system replaced immediately. With more than 50 years of combined experience, the American Drain Company is able to efficiently and effectively replace your sewer system with reliable products that will last a lifetime.
For help diagnosing and replacing an Orangeburg pipe problem in your Southern California home, contact American Drain Company today!