Pitch fibre pipes are made from a mix of wood cellulose, coal tar and asbestos. This compound was initially designed in the 1940s when raw materials were in short supply due to World War II. The mix of materials was a cost-effective, lightweight solution. Builders frequently installed pitch fibre pipes in many new build properties constructed between the 1950s and 1970s.
But Is There Any Danger In Using Asbestos?
This question concerns many homeowners who have heard of the dangers of asbestos. But there is no more danger related to pipes containing asbestos than any other construction made with materials that include asbestos, stove insulation or old garage roofs, for instance.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of Pitch Fibre Drain Lines?
The lifespan of pitch fibre pipes averages about 40 years.
Many of these installations are nearing the end of the pipe’s expected 40-year lifespan. Therefore, thousands of homes across the UK are experiencing blockages and overflow issues related to pitch fibre pipes every year.
Pitch fibre can blister when in prolonged contact with hot water, grease and fat because when frequently poured down a drain, they soften the tar in the pipe, resulting in deformation and collapse. Harsh chemicals and other hot liquids help hasten the deformation and eventual failure of the pipelines.
Pitch fibre pipes also have an issue with root ingress. This is where tree roots penetrate the lines, resulting in damage and collapse. Tree roots are probably the biggest reason for clogged drains, broken pipes and sewer system issues in the UK. Roots can completely compromise a drainage system and cause expensive problems, so it is essential to watch out for signs you may have root ingress, such as gurgling sounds coming from your drains, slow draining and bad odours.
Pipes made from modern materials are less likely to have root ingress issues. For example, PVC piping is more immune to root intrusion because it usually has fewer joints.
What Happens When The Pipes Start Wearing Out?
Because pitch fibre is soft compared to vitrified clay or plastic, pitch fibre pipes deform and blister relatively easily. These deformities often cause pipeline blockages due to paper and other materials getting snagged on the sides. The blisters also restrict the pipes making them narrower, so even without debris blocking the lines, water cannot flow through the pipes as it did before the deformities developed.
Can Pitch Fibre Pipes Be Repaired Without Excavation?
Mostly, yes. Depending on the severity of the damage, the pipes can often be re-rounded using a tool pulled through by a winch that returns the tube to its original shape. Once reshaped, we can line the pipe with a resin liner, strengthening the line and giving it at least another 40-year lifespan.
Bear in mind, if you have pitch fibre pipes installed around 40 years ago, they will undoubtedly eventually fail and need replacing, so even if you have not yet experienced problems, sometimes getting the pipes re-rounded before they fail is a much more cost-effective solution than waiting for deformities to set in.
Re-rounding and relining pitch fibre pipes is a straightforward, practical solution we can often complete in one or two days.
What If The Pipes Are Beyond Re-Rounding?
If the damage to the pipes is severe, and they are beyond re-rounding, excavation is necessary to change the pitch fibre pipes for new plastic lines.
Sometimes a partial excavation is adequate where there are joints. Before excavating, we will clarify if a full excavation is necessary using our surveying CCTV equipment.
Thanet Drainage has plenty of experience with drainage problems, and we are experts in dealing with issues caused by pitch fibre pipes. If your property was built between 1950-1980, there’s a good chance you have pitch fibre pipes that are now causing issues. Call us for advice and a completely free survey and quote.