Orangeburg Pipe: What Is It, What’s Wrong with It, And What Should You Do?

Why did we choose to start this post with a toilet paper tube, you ask? Because that’s basically what Orangeburg pipe is. Used in many houses built during the 50s, Orangeburg pipe is a brittle, lightweight fiber sewer pipe, essentially made of tar paper. It absorbs moisture, deforms under pressure and eventually disintegrates.

Orangeburg has been described as “a coal tar impregnated toilet paper tube.” Trust us – you don’t want your sewer pipes made out of this stuff.

Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions about Orangeburg pipe. The bad news is: if you have it, you need to get rid of it. The good
news is, if you have it we can hook you up with someone to replace it.

How long does Orangeburg last?

Orangeburg starts to deform and warp after about 30 years, and its maximum life expectancy is 60 years. Since Orangeburg was used only until 1972, all homes with Orangeburg pipe are now over 50 years old.. If you live in an older home, you could be at risk for a massive sewer disaster.

What happens once an Orangeburg pipe starts to break down?

All kinds of bad stuff. Clogged pipes, tree root invasions and eventually, complete pipe collapse. Deteriorating Orangeburg pipes are very weak, and tree roots can easily rip them apart.

How do I know if I have Orangeburg?

Orangeburg was introduced as a substitute for heavily-taxed cast-iron pipe during World War II, and in some parts of the country, it was used into the early 1970s.

In Southeastern Michigan, most homes with Orangeburg were built during the 50s, give or take a couple of years, The earliest house we’ve ever seen with Orangeburg was built in 1947, and the latest was in 1964. If your house was built during this timeframe, there’s a chance that you may have Orangeburg.

Do you have recurring clogs in your main sewer line? Are you seeing indentations in yard over the sewer area? Do your neighbors have any of these problems? Chances are, you’re dealing with an Orangeburg installation.

What should I do?

If you suspect you may have Orangeburg, call Michigan Power Rodding at 734-761-7154. We’ll come out and do a sewer line television inspection (TV inspection) on your pipes. This is a video camera review and we don’t have to dig anything up. We provide you with a written report, a thumb drive copy of the inspection, and will locate and paint several points along the route – including the depth of the pipe. If it turns out that you have Orangeburg and that it’s starting to deteriorate, we can connect you with a reputable contractor to replace your pipes.

Don’t forget – we also do pre-home purchase TV inspections to check for Orangeburg. We (and many realtors) highly recommend a TV inspection for anybody buying a home built during that 50’s timeframe. That way, you won’t move in and then discover that you have to spend $5k-$15k to replace your sewer system.

Believe it or not, you are responsible for the pipes under the street, all the way to the city sewer. So if the trunk line is in the middle of the street, you may have to rip up 15 feet of street – and the costs just skyrocket when you pass that curb line.

Remember, Orangeburg WILL deteriorate, and it WILL disintegrate. It’s essentially a ticking time bomb made out of flimsy tar paper. If you don’t get your Orangeburg pipe taken care of, your sewer line could fail, costing you thousands of dollars in preventable repairs. And you don’t want that.

Don’t let Orangeburg get the best of you! Give us a call at 734-761-7154, or shoot us an email at (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). We’re happy to help.

Contact Us

Michigan Power Rodding

818 Phoenix Dr
Ann Arbor, MI 48108


Service Hours

24/7 Emergency Service

No extra fees before 10 p.m.

No extra fees on weekends