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Question DetailsAsked on 5/15/2015

Can I repair a cast iron pipe rather than replace it?

In my basement, I have an old cast iron pipe, the house was built in 1957, i'm guessing it's original. This morning I noticed a leak, a drip at a time, but a pretty fast drip. It's in a line of rust spots, maybe 4 inches long. The rest of the pipe looks to be okay. The pipe is linked to my kitchen sink drain. I didn't use the sink for a few hours, while using the rest of the plumbing in the house and the drip stopped, so i'm guessing that's where it's linked to. Whole pipe replacement or patch? What are your thoughts?

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1 Answer


There are repair band clamps similar to the fourth one at this link (move mouse over it to pop up an enlarged view) -

that can be wrapped around the pipe without cutting it, but of course that is a bandaid. The one shown is a heavier duty ones that would be used in your case, but clearly shows the wrap-around design that does not require cutting into the pipe.

Your line of rust might be rust from a single pinhole leak, or rust along a crack that is starting, or a section that has eroded out with user (unlikely if a sink drain pipe). If just a real local problem, banding might hold for awhile, especially if as you say this pipe carries only your sink flow and not the whole house, so a future total failure would be quickly recognized and not involve a raw sewage leak in the house. You should be able to turn on water "upflow" and listen at the leak area to hear if water flowas past there from other sources, which from your description it does not.

Basically, cast iron cannot be "repaired" - you have to replace a section, or replace it with plastic pipe using (typically) similar slip-over couplers to the one shown above.

One thing you do NOT know if you just band it (commonly first plugging the leak hole with an epoxy putty) is if this is indicative of a local flaw in the pipe, or maybe of a general deterioration of the piping. Generally cast iron (excepting occasional local leaded joint flaws) last 50-100 years or more - you are nearing 60 years, so could be showing deterioration in general, or could be a local flaw or a crack due to pressure on the pipe from house settlement over the years, because cast iron is quite brittle.

Clearly a Plumber would be the person to assess it - and if you are concerned about the overall pipe condition, then you would have to get a camera run through it. Unfortunately, to gaet a good view it has to be routed out with a full-diameter scraper router or brush type router head first to remove the built-up soap scum, fibers, and grease buildup, then the camera run. Can run around $200-350 range typically to do that for the in-house pipes, up to more like $500 range to take it all the way to the street to inspect those pipes too. Do do that type of clean and camera run, you need a Sewer and Drain contractor.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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