What is Orangeburg Pipe?

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

One of our Columbia CT homeowners called us because she had water in her basement and clogged drains. When our technician arrived, he noticed a pool of water to the side of her home.

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Curtain drain collapsed in Columbia CT


Upon further diagnosing, our technician discovered the presence of orangeburg pipe.  The home’s “curtain drain” was made of orangeburg. A curtain drain carries rainwater away from a home’s foundation. The rainwater is diverted through a perforated pipe then it can be deposited into the ground. Because the orangeburg pipe collapsed, the rainwater was over saturating the soil in one spot, leading to water in our customer’s basement. Because the pipe was also full of roots, it created the clogged drains.

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Rotted orangeburg pipe

What is Orangeburg Pipe?

Orangeburg pipe was used in the 50’s and 60’s. It’s basically made out of paper. Wood pulp was bound together with an adhesive and coated with a liquid coal tar substance. It has a life span of about 50-60 years. Roots can easily penetrate it. Also, at this point in time, it is impossible to run any type of drain cleaning equipment through orangeburg pipe.  The pipe turns into an oval shape or completely collapses. For a more detailed history, please see this article from

Picture a roll of gift wrap that is jammed up with soaked tissues and mud. Now imagine trying to get your fingers in there enough to pull some of it out. Is it possible to pull out all the tissue & mud with one pull? What happened to the shape of the gift wrap roll? Did it return to a circular shape? Did it completely collapse or did you poke any holes through it while trying to yank out the roots? That’s exactly what happens with orangeburg pipe. There is no way to repair it, other than to replace it.

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PVC replaced the orangeburg pipe


The Rapid Service technicians got to work excavating the collapsed & rotted pipe. It was replaced with PVC pipe. The trench was filled in, rocks were raked out and topsoil was put down.

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Repair completed

Thankfully, our homeowner called us before the situation turned into a nightmare. If you suspect you have orangeburg piping in your home’s drain system, please be prepared for the issues you will be facing soon. You can schedule a repair by calling 860-228-1036.