Once we use the incoming water from our faucets, toilets, showers or tubs, it has to have somewhere to go, right? The drainage system inside your home is an indispensable part of your total plumbing system, carrying waste and used (gray) water to the sewer or septic system outside. Indoor drainage systems have been a part of homes for centuries, and as such the materials and construction of drain system's components have changed a bit. Some of these changes have been due to improvements in piping materials, while others have come about due to code changes and requirements. Code requirements change frequently, and dictate that indoor drainage systems be constructed in a certain way, regardless of how many bathrooms are in the home. Drain pipe sizing and configuration are based on the layout of the home, they must still conform to certain rules.
Drain pipe materials in older homes consisted mostly of thin-walled stainless steel, copper, lead, and cast iron. The steel, copper, and lead were usually found under sinks, while cast iron was found in walls and in basements or crawlspaces, forming the main sewer system for the home. A very common configuration for an under-sink drain setup was as follows: thin-wall stainless, soldered into a copper stub, then soldered into a lead stub, with the lead then connected to the cast iron. That's FOUR different materials all connected within a few feet of each other, all susceptible to corrosion or rust. As such, leaks are very common in these locations. With so many failure points, problems were eminent. When one of these leaks occur, we make the repairs with PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) piping, which is an extremely durable, clean, and inexpensive type of plastic pipe. We remove as much of the older metal piping as possible, often leaving you with brand new drainage all the way back into the wall and reaching the cast iron (which is less prone to leaks).
If your home is built on a basement, most of your drainage system is visible there (unless your basement is finished). Cast iron, while being slightly more durable than the aforementioned metal piping materials, still develops leaks after many years. These leaks are generally caused by waste accumulating along the interior wall of the piping and rotting, causing the cast iron to rust through to the outside. Leaks are also common on cast iron joints, which were attached with lead and a material called oakum (a rope-like substance similar to hemp). The oakum wears away with age and use, allowing leaks to occur. Complete basement and crawlspace drainage re-pipes are an everyday job for us, and one of the best plumbing investments you can make for your home. As previously stated, we use PVC to repair and replace all the cast iron drain lines, branching from your fixtures all the way to the exterior wall of your home, and further if you prefer (see "Sewer Lines" section). Our 12-month warranty is given on all repairs to your interior drains.