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How to Clean those Old Cast Iron Pipes?

Van Nuys Leak Detection & Mold Remediation

How to Clean those Old Cast Iron Pipes?

How to Clean those Old Cast Iron Pipes?

When it comes to drain cleaning in Los Angleles or Phoenix, AZ, 80 percent of our time here at the Twin Plumbers is spent dealing with drains — clogged drains, drains that are causing sewer odors, drains that are cracking and falling apart — and that’s because Los Angeles and Phoenix have older homes. We have to deal with a lot of old cast iron pipes that are so compacted inside that it becomes almost impossible to open them back up to their original state. But it’s not actually impossible, it just takes some expertise! We want to share our methods with you so that you’ll know how to deal with these annoying issues in the right way!

Good Option #1- Cabling the Old Cast Iron Pipes

The traditional method used most of the time to clean cast iron pipes is a drain snake with cable and blades. This method is great when you have a clog, but we’re talking about descaling the inner walls of the old cast iron pipes to get them back to their original state of flow capacity. Snaking an old cast iron pipe to really clean it is just a waste of time and money. It does have benefits (i.e. it’s better than nothing at all!) but over all it will not last long, especially if you’re dealing with a kitchen drain.

TIP: If you are going to use a cable first, run hot water and pour some soap down the drain. This will loosen some of the hard, superficial debris. Then snake after, and when you’re done snaking use BioClean aggressively. BioClean is a safe enzyme treatment that helps keep your drains clean.

The cost of this method for a single drain like usually runs anywhere from $150.00 to $350.00.

Better Option #2- Hydrojetting the Old Cast Iron Pipes

We love the hydro jetting method, and it’s a great way to break down roots and remove compaction and sludge from a pipe. But, then again, even the top hydrojetting system out there will not remove major hard build up inside cast iron pipes. This method uses high powered flowing water (4000 PSI) pressure with special nozzels that shoot water directly through the pipes like razor blades. The cons of hydrojetting are that they use a lot of water (which, considering the major droughts we’ve had here in California, is not ideal), and that you’re limited to where this method can be used since bringing it into your home can cause flooding. Outside through an accessible clean our is the best practice.

TIP: Because these procedures are typically more expensive, make sure your professional shows you before and after videos to verify that the drain line is completely clean. He should also include a warranty of at least 1 year. If you have major roots, though, then it’s hard for any contractor to provide a lengthy warranty.

The average cost of hydro jetting can range from $350 to $1,450.

Best Option #3

Coming in at number three is your best option for cleaning out cast iron pipes and really give them new life: it’s a fairly new technology called “picote” that uses high powered spinning air. By maintaining a central position, the “cyclone” circular chain does not bang against the side of the pipe when in use, making it a much safer and efficient method.

The benefits of this is that it really does an amazing job and doesn’t use or waste gallons of water. The other huge benefit is that you can take it inside a home or business without the worry of flooding the interior.

The cost for this more advanced and extensive process is going to be more expensive. It ranges from $550 to $2500. There is more maintenance, and the cost of replacing these specialized nozzles are not cheap. Still, depending on your situation, it may be worth it for that more complete, permanent clean!

We hoped this gave you some tips on how to best clean those stubborn cast iron pipes and get them working again.


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