If you one of the millions of homeowners who owns a house that was built before 1975, you likely have cast iron pipes, and at best, those pipes will last for 50 to 75 years. However, due to corrosion, it’s very likely those pipes will get damaged much earlier. To add insult to injury, insurance companies are denying compensation to homeowners with old leaky pipes.
In the United States, an estimated 76 million homes in the U.S. have failing cast iron pipes. In certain environments, these pipes can start breaking down as early as 25 to 40 years after they were first installed. Damaged cast iron pipes can damage your home and the environment.
Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content which is greater than 2%. It has a plethora of uses due to its relatively low melting temperature. It’s also incredibly durable and can withstand high amounts of pressure.
The earliest cast-iron artifacts date back to 5th century BC China. Cast iron was used in ancient China for warfare, agriculture, and architecture. In 15th century France, cast iron became utilized to make the cannon in Burgundy, France, and in England during the Reformation in the 16th century.
In the 19th and 20th centuries cast iron was the preferred material used and was even used at the Palace of Versailles in 17th century France. Until the 1980s, cast iron was the preferred material used for pipes. It was discovered that the rusting was a problem and nowadays plumbers typically use plastic PVC for pipes because it can last up to 100 years.
Cast iron pipe corrosion can happen internally or externally. Internal corrosion is largely caused by hydrogen sulfide gas from sewage, which collects inside pipes and oxidizes and then the sulfuric acid eats away at pipe walls, eventually the pipes crack them at the seam. In an EPA survey of 89 cities, 32 cities had reported sewer collapses from hydrogen sulfide corrosion.
External corrosion is more rare and caused by the pipe’s exposure to toxins and high acidity in the soil from hydrogen sulfide, salt, and other acids. States and cities with moisture-rich environments are especially vulnerable to corrosion, which is a gradual process that causes the pipe’s inner and outer layers to thin, which weakens the structural integrity of the pipe. Eventually, internal pressure becomes too much for the pipe to support and the pipes crack leaks or ruptures. Many homeowners in Florida have experienced this problem.
Most people do not readily see pipes in their home, as they are often not in plain sight, and as such the damage to pipes and a person’s home is often known only when it’s too late. Some signs that would indicate underground plumbing issues are: warped or separated wood floors, tinted floor tiles, broken or loose floor tiles, grout, water-stained carpet, water-stained or discolored floor rugs, clogs / backups and slow drains, foul smells from sewer gases and pest infestation.
If you notice signs of damage, it’s important to immediately look into the problem and fix it. Damaged and rusted pipes will only further damage your home. Damaged cast iron pipes can also make your home fail a property inspection and decrease your home’s value. Cracked cast iron pipes also leak raw sewage into groundwater, which ultimately contaminates local water suppliers and hurts the environment.
Replacing cast iron pipes in your home isn’t cheap, costing anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000. Different factors like the amount of piping that needs to be replaced and where it is in the home affects the final amount. In addition to fixing the pipes, if there’s water damage that can shoot the cost up to $10,000 to $30,000 for severe cases.
If you have damage to your home due to cast iron pipe cracks, leaks or other issues, contact your insurance company immediately to see if you have a claim. However, insurance companies often deny claims, delay payment, and provide low settlements for cast iron pipe issues. However, if you are an insurance policyholders with legal representation you will typically receive payments three times higher than those without a legal team.
If you are in the DC area and are looking to file a lawsuit for any damages to your home related to your cast iron pipes, you can reach us at a 24/7 live phone answering. So, if you need a DC lawyer who handles lawsuits contact Cohen & Cohen, call our DC Law Firm today.
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