Happy Drains Blog

Pitch Fibre Pipe Problems

Pipes made of wood cellulose – in other words, the same stuff that paper is made from? Really?

Yes… back in the 1940’s you could well have had pipes like these installed by your builder or plumber!

During wartime, some building materials were in short supply, so pitch fibre pipes became popular. They were commonly used in bigger building projects like schools, hospital, and housing estates. Pitch fibre pipes are made from wood cellulose impregnated with coal tar. These pipes were lighter than the alternative at the time, clay pipes, as this was in the days before plastic pipes. So as pitch fibre pipes were cheaper and easier to use, builders started using them, and carried on until around about the 1970s.

However, there are a number of problems with pitch fibre pipes. The first is that they only have a lifespan of around 40 years. So if you still have pitch fibre pipes somewhere on your property, they could need some attention.

The second is that while they work pretty well with cold waste water, they don’t cope that well with hot water, fats and grease. And with our modern lifestyles, that’s a problem.

Pitch fibre pipes are also more likely to buckle or collapse under pressure, and are quite vulnerable to tree root damage. Sometimes they blister and de-laminate inside, causing blockages. Often the solution is to reshape them and then create a new resin liner inside, which helps the pipe hold its shape. They can also be patched. A more permanent, but costly alternative is to completely replace the pitch fibre pipes with new plastic piping, but this would involve excavation – which may be difficult if the original pipes run under your property. But if in any doubt, give us a call at Happy Drains and we’ll come and inspect your pipework using our state of the art CCTV systems, and we can run through your options. Call 07824 757572 or 0800 849 8099.