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25September

Orangeburg piping was once a saving grace during genuinely desperate times. It helped struggling homeowners set up what was at that time a relatively more reliable yet cheaper sewer drain system.

Today, however, the term has an unpleasant ringer to it, thanks to countless anecdotes of the horrors it caused in homes. When homeowners learn about Orangeburg pipes they realize it can be costly but necessary to replace.

Also called “no-corrode” pipes and “black-pipe,” Orangeburg piping is a type of bituminized fiber pipe composed of hot pitch and wood pulp. It was manufactured from the mid-40s to the early 70s by Orangeburg Manufacturing Co., Inc of Orangeburg, New York.

Although bituminized fiber pipes have been in the markets since the 1800s, Orangeburg’s pipes came when iron and steel commonly used for pipes were in short supply due to their deployment in military efforts during World II and the Cold War.

When Were Orangeburg Pipes Taken Out of Circulation?

Since it was much cheaper, Orangeburg piping still caught on long after the wars, although it barely served for more than half its life expectancy in most cases. On average, Orangeburg pipes were expected to last for at least 50 years.

However, in most cases, they came in need of frequent repairs or total replacement just after some 30 years. They fell out of popularity in the early 70s when the pilot users began experiencing various complications as their system clocked 30 and older. By then, newer, better, and equally cost-effective alternatives started to phase out Orangeburg piping.

The failure of Orangeburg pipes to live up to expectation resulted from their cheapskate composition, a glorified combination of asphalt-coated paper and wood pulp, which all have poor waterproof qualities. The sheer pressure of the surroundings and water presence caused the pipes to become degraded, distorted, or ‘bubbled up’ barely halfway through their life expectancy.

How to Tell if Orangeburg Pipes are Bad

When Orangeburg pipes are degraded, multiple parts of the system are simultaneously affected. As such, most cases of degraded Orangeburg pipes are usually accompanied by a significant reduction in the water system’s efficiency.

Problematic Orangeburg pipes also lead to perpetual blockages, thicker patches of grass along the path of underground pipes, pipeline collapse, frequent toilet backups, mold buildups around the house, sinkholes in foundations, and short increments in water bills.

If left to fester, these problems might induce more severe issues and widespread damages around the home. When detected early, problems like leakages, small cracks, and worn surfaces can easily be fixed with trenchless solutions. But in many cases, the degradation is usually unsalvageable, and a replacement system is needed.

Lining and Other Solutions for Damaged Orangeburg Pipes

The best method for solving your Orangeburg problems depends on many factors like the depth of the underground pipes, the nature of the break, etc. You need to call in a professional to thoroughly examine your Orangeburg pipes’ state using methods like video inspection technology to determine the most suitable restoration measures.

If the damage isn’t extensive, the traditional method of renovation can resolve the problems. That entails manually excavating and replacing the affected portions of the piping.

However, the cost of restoring the excavation site can leave a significant dent on your finances if the pipes are buried quite deep under the ground or surfaces with expensive finishes.  To avoid such costs, dig-free pipe lining was designed to help restore broken Orangeburg piping seamlessly yet highly efficient.

Also known as ‘cured-in-place pipe lining’, this trenchless technology entails reinforcing the pipes’ inner walls with a combination of fiberglass, resin Perma-liner (which can be converted into PVC), epoxy coating, and air pressure while the pipes remain in place.

Once run through the damaged sections of the pipe, the perma-liner solution is pressed along the pipes’ walls through an air pressure bladder to fill up the spaces left by cracks, fissures, and breakages. This can smoothen out the pipes, restore cracks, and elongate the pipe’s lifespan for up to 50 years. And it only takes a few hours to accomplish everything from start to finish.

Another trenchless restoration method that doesn’t require the excavation of the affected pipe length is pipe bursting.

It’s more effective than cured-in-place lining in cases where the pipes have extremely deteriorated or near the brink of collapse. It entails replacing existing pipes with new pipes that have steel, conical bursting heads that, when passed in through small entry points, can fracture and then eject the old pipes through small exit points while latching into place simultaneously.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace an Orangeburg Pipe?

The dig-and-replace method best suited for Orangeburg pipes could cost anywhere between $80 – $200 per foot length of pipe.  So much depends on the depth of the dig, soil composition, and location.

Trenchless pipe repairs are generally less expensive, and given the cost of labor and landscaping, it can save you. On average, Orangeburg pipe lining costs about $110-$150 per foot length of pipe. The price of non-invasive pipe busting is slightly higher.

Reach out to us today, and let’s help you determine the best solution for your Orangeburg pipes issues. We are located in Southern California and provide plumbing services through the Inland Empire including the cities of Corona, Riverside, Eastvale, San Bernardino, Highland, Redlands, Loma Linda, and Chino.

Billy Henley
Billy Henley is the Vice President of Operations for BHI Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. Before becoming vice president, he worked six years in the field as a service technician and has over ten years of experience working in the industry. Billy often shares his knowledge about plumbing and HVAC issues on industry publications.