Orangeburg pipe is bituminous fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. Basically it’s made out of pressed layers of tar paper. Many contractors refer to it as a “toilet paper tube”.
Orangeburg pipe, as commonly referred to, comes from the Orangeburg Manufacturing Co., Inc. of Orangeburg, New York. The company began mass producing and installing the pipe around the early 1850’s.
Once PVC pipe became popular in the early 1970’s the Orangeburg pipe business began to go downhill. The company would eventually shut down altogether in fall of 1972 and the pipe has been removed from the list of acceptable building materials under most building codes.
This asphalt impregnated cardboard was a cheaper more sensible option for pipe during the Second World War, when cast iron was taxed heavily on because of its importance to the war. Other than that temporary financial relief years ago Orangeburg pipe has no redeeming qualities.
Orangeburg pipe is lightweight and brittle. This makes the pipe quick to deform under pressure and allow tree roots to break and corrode the pipes. Orangeburg pipe only has a life expectancy of 50 years, so majority of what is still being used today is well overdue, which means corrosion due to age and overuse.
When an Orangeburg pipe breaks repair is challenging. Most sewer line repairs use a “snake", a plumbing tool used to see into pipes and clear obstacles. With Orangeburg pipe the pipe becomes so deformed it’s often pressed to the shape of an oval, instead of a circle, and impossible to clear. The most effective and recommended way to fix the problem of Orangeburg pipe is to remove and replace it. Attempting to snake it out or repair it usually end in worse damage by breaking the pipe.
*Orangeburg pipe is prone to fail and should be replaced immediately. If you or someone you know has an Orangeburg piping system, we strongly recommend looking into getting it replaced with a more stable form of plumbing pipe. Contact Frugal Rooter to see what we can do for your home today!