Not All Sewer Pipes Are Created Equal

When a sewer contractor was hired to replace a sewer line in the Bronx the material originally used turned out to be the cause of the sewer problem. The sewer repair might never had been needed if proper sewer line material had been used in the first place. This is a recurring theme in the sewer repair and sewer line replacement business.

On one location after another improper materials are uncovered that made the original sewer contractor a little more money, then created a sewer repair job at a later date that cost a property owner thousands of dollars. In this particular case 4" Orangeburg pipe was used instead of 6" domestic extra heavy cast iron sewer pipe. A sewer line made from domestically produced extra heavy cast iron and installed properly will last for many decades. Buying American in the case of sewer line work is more than patriotic, it will help ensure a better job.

Domestically produced cast iron for a new sewer line or a sewer repair is found to have a uniform pipe wall thickness throughout the pipe, and higher quality standards in place. Cutting a domestically produced piece of cast iron results in it's distinctive bell like sound, the sound of a clean and uniform cut of the pipe. Environmentally domestic sewer pipe is carefully screened for harmful materials such as asbestos, and radioactive materials such as from scrap medical equipment. Scrap metal is a component of all cast iron pipe. Furthermore domestic cast iron manufacturers operate out of self-contained manufacturing and distribution facilities, with their own foundries on-site. One domestic manufacturer has invested millions of dollars in state-of-the-art equipment to ensure a high quality and uniform product, which is produced in an environmentally friendly and safe facility. Select Sewer Contractors prefer to use domestically produced extra heavy cast iron pipe exclusively.

Imported cast iron sewer pipe has on numerous occasions been documented to have various defects and pose some other very serious concerns. Defects of major concern are uneven wall thicknesses of the pipe that are sub standard, and use of contaminated materials. As an example asbestos has been found as a documented component of some imported cast iron. Frequently there is a strange crushing type sound when cutting imported cast iron, as opposed to the clean bell-like sound that cutting domestic cast iron makes. In 2007 the Michigan Plumbing Board went as far as to deny the approval of imported cast iron pipe for any State projects. Imported sewer pipe is purchased from an importer. But who made it and tested it?

Orangeburg Pipe, which was found at this site, was never meant to be used as a material for a sewer line or for sewer repairs. Orangeburg pipe was originally manufactured in Orangeburg New York as a transit pipe for electrical ducts. It was made from wood pulp held together with pitch, a form of hot tar. Only after being misused as sewer pipe on thousands of homes did it become apparent that it fell apart after being in near constant contact with water. This of course is too late for the thousands of property owners left to replace something that never should have been used.

Just because a sewer line gets buried doesn't make it's approved or reliable. Some plumbers are like doctors, they bury their mistakes.

David Balkan is the VP of Balkan Sewer and Water Main Service. Balkan is the largest sub surface plumbing company in NYC performing over 2,000 sewer and water main installations annually. As a family run business in operation for over 50 years our 10 year guarantee means we continue to stand by our work long after the job is done.

Joseph L. Balkan Inc. | 130-01 Jamaica Avenue Richmond Hill, NY 11418 | Phone: (718) 849-0900 | Espanol (718) 943-5720 | Fax: (718) 849-9570 |

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