Sewer, Orangeburg pipes, tarpaper pipes
QUESTION: I live in a home that was built in 1950. My neighbor told me that he had to replace his sewer line because it was made of tarpaper that broke down. Our home has occasionally had sewer backups. Were tarpaper pipes used a lot in the Sacramento area and how can I know if I have the same tarpaper pipes?
ANSWER: “Homeowners are increasingly experiencing problems with tar paper sewer pipes,” according to Vince McDonald of McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. “Commonly called Orangeburg pipes, the material was widely used in the greater Sacramento area between 1940 and 1970. During and after World War II other materials were in short supply and cost more to buy and install”.
“The Orangeburg Manufacturing Company produced sewer pipe built up from paper and sealed with bituminous tar, to be installed without gaskets and sealed with more tar. These connections were never very watertight and over time most leak even more. In addition, the layers of paper start to separate from one another inside the pipe, forming blisters that swell and obstruct the flow of sewage.
“It’s amazing that tarpaper pipes have lasted so long! I remember my father talking about installing these pipes when he was a young plumber in neighborhoods like Land Park, Hollywood Park, Tahoe Park, and Curtis Park. The best way to assess the situation is with a TV Camera sewer inspection available from many licensed plumbing contractors. The only real cure for leaky tarpaper sewer pipes is replacement.”