I maintain a 75 year old apartment building with cast iron drain pipes.
The four inch lines still work well and I haven't had a problem with them in the 15 years that I've owned the building.
The 1.5 and 2 inch lines that haven't been replaced are badly restricted or even broken. I have been replacing the worst of these pipes with ABS pipes attached with no-hubs to the existing system.
1. If a pipe appears to be solid (I'm not sure how you make that judgment when the pipe is behind a wall) how effective would pressure washing the pipes be? The buildup on the inside of the pipes is a semi-solid brownish material. I have been able to clear it out partially with a round wire brush attached to a drill over short distances but only with considerable effort. Is a pressure washer effective against this kind of buildup? Is running a pressure washer something that should definitely be done by a professional plumber or would renting one be an option?
2. Are there any chemicals that are effective against this kind of buildup? Would you recommend some kind of periodic application of chemicals as a form of preventative maintenance?
3. I have been using a sawzall and a grinder to gut through the old cast iron pipes. I have recently become aware of a tool designed to "snap" cast iron pipe. The tool is expensive and I probably won't buy one but I am curious. How well do these things work? Can they work in tight spaces (the crawl space under my building is less than two feet).
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