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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sewage Water Troubling for Homeowners

Some Farmington homeowners are relying on pipes made of flimsy fiber board material to dispose of home sewage.

Used until the early 1970s, the bargain-brand pipe, Orangeburg, an alternative to sewer and metal at the time, connected some Farmington homes to city sewer.

It was also used in other Dakota County cities, including Rosemount and Lakeville.

Farmington City Engineer Kevin Schorzman described Orangeburg pipe as “cardboard soaked in asphalt,” and said many of those pipes are now falling apart. The pipes have a life expectancy of a maximum of 50 years.

Named after the South Carolina city where it was manufactured, Orangeburg pipe is notorious for collapsing, deforming and clogging up from tree roots that easily penetrate the pipe and damage it.

The Internet is replete with homeowner complaints about Orangeburg pipe.

A YouTube video titled “Orangeburg Nightmare” features a homeowner’s documentation of expensive excavation in his yard to replace Orangeburg pipe with modern Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes.

The video ends inside the home, as he describes the frustrations of living without modern plumbing and the work they’ve done to clean sewage backup from bathtubs, floors and toilets.

Jerry Sauber, owner of Sauber Plumbing and Heating, said Orangeburg is not a legal pipe material in Minnesota, and called it “obsolete.”

The city does not have any lists of homes where Orangeburg was installed, and Sauber said most homeowners won’t know if they have Orangeburg until a problem surfaces.

“When people have problems with them, they usually replace it,” Sauber said.

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