At Home Repairs home page

A Little History

Orangeburg Pipe Collapsing, Part II productions home page

Orangeburg Pipe Collapsing

Our home is older and the plumbing is of course, old. It seems the area in which we live, in Phoenix, has Orangeburg pipe. This stuff is made out of paper. Who thought this was a good idea?

When you have a sewer pipe failure, the pipe leading from your home's infrastructure out to the city sewer may be punctured by and filled up with tree roots or the flow is greatly reduced due to gunky build-up along the interior of the pipe. The pipe is no longer a viable conduit for the water and other waste that flows down the drains. The plumbing backs up because the pipes get clogged.

Orangeburg pipe is not only vulnerable to tree root puncture and clogging, it also loses its shape; it turns from a round pipe into an oval shaped mass of collapsing fibrous gunk.

You can read some history about this stuff at But its history isn't what concerns us at this point. What concerns us is that now that the stuff is falling apart in the depths of the hard clay soil of our backyard, our shower keeps backing up, which makes the toilets back up, etc. etc.

Our house was built in the early sixties, and Orangeburg pipe was used for the sewer lines, and now it's turning to junk because it doesn't have the strength or longevity to make it much past 40 years. The pipe has to be replaced.

Bob and I do a lot of our own home repairs, but for this project we've called in professional plumbers.

The plumber snaked a camera into the main artery of the plumbing and took a look. There's a whole section where the pipe is simply gone. That's right. It disintegrated. Down the line there's more damage, so the pipe from the house to the city sewer connection has to be replaced.

The cost is about a gazillion dollars.

The plumbers will trench the area, that is, dig a trench down to and along the existing pipeline, remove the goopy mess that is Orangeburg, and lay new pipe, connecting it to the city sewer line.

Where the pipe connects is seven feet down. Part of the sidewalk leading to the shed is marked for destruction.

Start date: 1/29/2013

I'll document the process and share the photos and (hopefully) video with you. So watch for part two of Orangeburg Pipe Collapsing here on At Home Repairs.

Article copyrighted: Shelly McRae
Reproduction of all or part by permission only. Contact