The Disadvantages of Cast Iron Waste Pipes

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Cast iron pipes, though durable, are brittle.
Cast iron pipes, though durable, are brittle. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Cast iron pipe has been used knowingly since 1623 in the Fountains of Versailles in France, with those original pipes still in use. Today, however, though cast iron is still accepted by code, PVC and ABS plastic sewer pipes are more generally installed in homes. With its obvious long-term durability, cast iron cuts down on water/waste noise as it travels along the pipe. However, some disadvantages exist when installing this type of sewer piping.

Cast Iron Weight

Cast iron is very heavy, and consequently is mush harder to install than regular PVC/ABS sewer pipe. Due to its weight, it mush be braced well to stop it falling out of position during earthquakes or when construction is nearby. Special attention is also needed when cutting into/moving the pipe, as bodily damage may occur if the pipes fall out of position.

Brittleness

Cast iron pipe is extremely strong and durable, but is quite brittle and if accidentally knocked will easily break. Consequently, it should not be installed in buildup/cellar areas where household/construction activity will be the norm.

Expense

Cast iron, being a metal, is much more expensive than traditional PVC or ABS sewer/vent pipe, so the higher cost must be taken into account when budgeting for the house's sewer/vent system.

Cutting

Though possible to cut cast iron to length with a reciprocating saw or hammer and cold chisel, a straight clean cut through the pipe is best achieved using a snap cutter. This device has two long handles with a chain attached to the end of one of the handles. The chain is wrapped around the pipe and squeezed to cleanly break the pipe. Where a handsaw or circular saw is used to cut PVC/ABS pipe, this non-traditional tool is expensive, or has to be rented from a tool rental house to carry out the cast iron pipe installation process.

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