What is pitch fibre pipe and why does it collapse?
Commonly used to construct pipes in the 1950s-1970s, pitch fibre was considered to be a lighter and more cost-effective alternative to clay. When vast amounts of building work was being undertaken in the mid-20th century, pitch fibre pipes could be manufactured cheaply and installed easily, which meant they were an idea drainage option for residential and commercial buildings.
Unfortunately, pitch fibre pipes haven’t worked as well as expected. Firstly, pitch fibre pipes only have an estimated lifespan of 40 years. This means that almost all the remaining pitch fibre pipes in the UK have outstayed their welcome and are no longer fit for purpose.
Secondly, pitch fibre doesn’t cope well with today’s drainage needs. Current drainage systems process a significantly higher volume of water than they did decades ago. When vast quantities of hot water pass through pitch fibre pipes on a regular basis, it causes bubbles to form in the fibre itself. Furthermore, the presence of oils, fats and grease can have a far more destructive effect on pitch fibre pipes compared to more modern drainage options. Due to this, pitch fibre pipes tend to weaken more quickly and the risk of cracks, damage and collapsed drains increases significantly.
What should I do if I have pitch fibre pipes under my home?
If you believe you have pitch fibre pipes installed, you’ll need to determine what action to take. A CCTV drain survey is an effective way to determine exactly which type of pipes are installed and this type of investigation will also highlight any irregularities, damage or breakages. As a no-dig investigation, this is a simple and hassle-free way to assess the status of your drains.
If a CCTV drain survey confirms that you do have pitch fibre pipes, you’ll want to know what your options are. If the drains are already leaking, damaged or collapsed, you may need to undertake restorative work fairly quickly.
If left unresolved, any type of damaged drains will worsen over time. As well as leaking into the ground surrounding or under your home, the drain could become completely blocked or collapse over time, which could result in flooding in the property, as well as outside.
Can my pitch fibre pipes be repaired?
Fortunately, there are various repair options when it comes to pitch fibre pipes, so there’s no need to despair. Adding a liner to the pipe will increase its strength and can also be used to reform and reshape pitch fibre drains which have bowed. Once the liner has been added and has set, the drains will effectively be reinforced and will no longer present the problems a standard pitch fibre drainage system brings.
A polyester liner with resin is commonly used to strengthen pitch fibre pipes but various types of liners can be used, depending on any issues which have been identified. A significant advantage of repairing pipes with a liner is that it can be carried out without digging down to the pipes. In fact, adding a liner to repair pitch fibre pipes is a no-dig solution and can often be carried out in less than a day!
Can my pitch fibre pipes be replaced?
Pitch fibre pipes can certainly be replaced with a modern alternative. However, excavating and replacing pipes is a more extensive project and will take longer to complete than a liner repair. In order to remove the pipes, qualified specialists will first need to access them, which may mean lifting patios, drilling through paving or digging up an area of your garden. Whilst these areas can be replaced and recovered following the drain replacement, it can be a more intrusive process than a no-dig repair.
If the drain has collapsed or extensive damage has occurred, having a pitch fibre drain replaced might be your only option. If so, replacing the relevant pipes will resolve the issue and ensure that you aren’t at risk of further drainage issues. If the existing damage is more limited, however, a pitch fibre pipe repair might be your preferred option.
Although pitch fibre pipes are associated with significant drainage issues, if you take action quickly enough, you may be able to avoid the need for excavation and replacement pipes. Lining functional or minimally damaged pitch fibre pipes can help to keep them in good working order and negate the need for a full excavation, so monitoring your pipework is always a good idea.
Pitch Pipe Problems? Contact 1st Clear Flow
We carry out CCTV drain surveys and pitch fibre pipe repairs in all locations throughout Sussex, including Brighton, Hove, Southwick, Shoreham, Steyning, Lancing, Worthing, Littlehampton, Horsham and Crawley. Follow the links below to learn more about our drain services in your area.
- Drain repair in Brighton
- Drain repair in Worthing
- Drain repair in Crawley
- Drain repair in Horsham
- All other areas in Sussex
To find out more about replacing and repairing pitch fibre pipes, contact 1st Clearflow now on 01903 212392 and book an appointment.