Yes, your pipes can be in a movie! Any time I see cast iron drain pipes in a home, I recommend that the pipes be “scoped”. With scoping, a plumber will put a video camera on a long wire into the pipe and run it along the length of the pipe. This will show the condition of the drain pipes, all the way from the house to the connection to the utilities main drain line at the street.
Cast iron drain pipes were used in homes to remove waste water until about the early 1960’s. The downside to cast iron is that, over time, it corrodes and becomes weak. Eventually, they will crack, or even collapse entirely. Broken drain pipes end up both leaking sewage into the yard and causing the line to become blocked, risking backups into the house. The only way to fix the broken pipe is to replace it, which involves digging up the yard, and can be expensive.
Having the pipes scoped is beyond what your home inspector can do, so you will need a plumber for the procedure, but we do highly recommend that you know the condition of any cast iron pipes. Below is an excerpt of an email I received from a client of mine recently:
“I just wanted to thank you for encouraging us to have the main waste pipe at <removed> videoscoped when you did our home inspection last week. I wavered on doing it, because the estimate was $460, but we went through with it only because you thought we should. The pipe did need to be replaced, the plumber gave us a quote of $7200, and our sellers are having the work done for us before closing. I feel we were so lucky we hired you. Thank you for the great advice.”
So, this is one of the items in homes that will get old and will, eventually, need to be replaced.
Hurlbert Home Inspection