How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
How can I tell if I have cast iron pipes in my house?
Friday, June 15, 2018
Cast iron pipe is recognizable by its black finish and the bulge at the end of each pipe section, called a “hub,” that the adjacent pipe fits into. Surface rust may eliminate the black finish on extremely old cast iron, leaving it simply rust-color. It was installed for new construction up until the late-1960s for drain pipe only and is still available, but only used for repairs.
It is approved for drain/waste/vent, not pressurized water supply, and cast iron is mostly concealed in older homes where it is still in use. The places it might be visible are at the laundry as a the standpipe behind the washing machine, in the attic as a vent pipe through the roof, and as exposed drain pipe from plumbing fixtures above it in the crawl space under a home with elevated wood floors.
Corrosion eventually eats completely through the pipe, allowing sewage to drip out. Although the rust-through is at the back of a vertical pipe in the photo below, it occurs more often at the bottom of horizontal pipes in a home’s crawl space.
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