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Orangeburg Pipe Lawsuit

Orangeburg pipe, also known as bituminous fiber pipe, was once used extensively across the United States for sewer and drain lines. However, in recent years, many homeowners have faced problems with failing and clogged Orangeburg pipes on their properties. This has led to a number of lawsuits against manufacturers of Orangeburg pipe, with homeowners seeking compensation for pipe replacement costs and property damage.

Orangeburg Pipe Lawsuit

Background on Orangeburg Pipe

Orangeburg pipe was widely installed between the 1930s and 1980s before PVC pipe became the standard. It was seen as an economical alternative to cast iron or clay pipe at the time. Orangeburg pipe consists of layers of wood pulp fiber, coal tar, and asphalt. While initially durable, over time Orangeburg pipe is subject to fracture, cracking, blockages from tree roots, and leakage.

Lawsuits Over Failing Orangeburg Pipes

As Orangeburg pipes have aged over 70-80 years in many homes, they have begun to fail at increasing rates. Homeowners have faced back-ups, flooding, and the need to fully replace sewer lines on their properties. This can cost thousands of dollars per household for excavation, pipe replacement, landscaping repairs, mold remediation, etc.

In response, class action lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers such as Hancor, INC and Valmont Industries alleging that Orangeburg pipe was defective in design and sold with false warranties. Plaintiffs contend that companies knew the pipes had a finite lifespan but sold them without disclosures to homeowners. The lawsuits seek to recover replacement and property damage costs.

Some key complaints over Orangeburg pipe include:

  • Lack of durability guarantees from manufacturers
  • Breach of implied and express warranties
  • Failure to warn consumers about need for future replacement
  • Negligence

So far, settlements upwards of $17 million have been reached to reimburse affected property owners, while some other lawsuits are still pending.

Replacing Failing Orangeburg Pipes

For homeowners with aging Orangeburg sewer lines, regular inspections and ultimately full replacement is recommended. Signs of failure include visible cracks, leaks, slow drains, sewage back-ups, and root intrusion. Replacement is the only long-term solution, preferably with durable PVC or polyethylene pipe rated for underground use. Trenchless methods involve less digging and landscaping disruption.

Many municipalities and states have funding programs to help residents afford vital lateral pipe replacements. Homeowners should be aware if subsidized replacement programs are available in their area due to the prevalence of problematic Orangeburg pipe. Consulting plumbers and civil engineers is also recommended when facing pipe failures. Addressing issues proactively can prevent even more expensive emergency pipe collapses and property damage.

Financial Impacts and Risks

The Michigan State University Extension service estimates over 11 million US homes still have Orangeburg pipe that will eventually need replacement, often unexpectedly. This represents a substantial future financial risk to homeowners. If pipes fail, residents face high emergency repair bills, possible mold issues, damage to yards, basements flooding, barriers selling their home, and lawsuits from neighbors if pipes spread sewage to adjoining properties. Homeowners insurance does not cover normal sewer/septic system wear and tear.

Cities also continue working to replace aged Orangeburg sewer main lines. While less financially burdensome on individual property owners, municipalities do ultimately fund these infrastructure investments through local taxes, bonds, service fees, and government funds. Removing and replacing failing Orangeburg main lines often requires street and sidewalk demolition, traffic disruption, plus landscape regrowth.


What are key problems with Orangeburg pipe?

Orangeburg pipe is prone to cracking, fractures, blockages from intruding tree roots, and leakage over its 70-80 year expected lifespan. This can lead to sewage backups, property flooding, and the need for complete replacement.

What causes Orangeburg pipe failure?

While initially durable, the wood pulp and tar construction degrades underground over decades of use. Pipe junctions are vulnerable to root intrusions that further accelerate cracking. Age, soil disruption, ground movement all contribute over the long run.

Who is responsible for replacing residential Orangeburg pipes?

Homeowners are generally responsible for replacing aged pipes under their property including laterals running from the home to municipal sewer main lines. Some government assistance funding does exist in certain areas given the high costs.

Is PVC pipe stronger than Orangeburg pipe?

Yes, PVC or polyethylene pipes with fused joints are more durable for underground drainage uses. They represent the current standard to replace failing Orangeburg fiber and tar-based pipes. Expected lifespans are over 100 years if properly installed per codes.

How much does Orangeburg pipe replacement cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, typical costs range from $2,000 to over $8,000 depending on terrain, pipe length/depth, accessibility, landscaping repairs needed, use of trenchless methods, and local rates. Emergency repairs tend to cost more.

How can I determine if my pipes contain Orangeburg?

Homeowners are often unsure if their buried lateral pipes linking sewer main lines are made of Orangeburg materials. Plumbers can inspect visually via cleanouts and scopes. Original builder permits, construction records, visual IDs of pipe materials during repairs or documentation from previous inspections can also verify pipe types.

Can Orangeburg pipe be repaired or patched?

No, attempting to seal cracks or blockages with resins, patches or liners will only temporarily slow further deterioration. To prevent leaks, back-ups, ground contamination/settling and other issues, full pipe replacement is always recommended by experts compared to repairs.

Is financial help available for replacing Orangeburg pipes?

Some government programs provide grants, affordable financing and other assistance in certain areas for vital lateral Orangeburg pipe replacement costs not covered by homeowners insurance. Residents would need to research specifics in their state/municipality to determine if Orangeburg pipe replacement funding exists locally.

Were builders allowed to install Orangeburg pipe?

Yes, Orangeburg was approved for standard drainage system use at the time of installation until PVC pipe came into favor. Owners would need to show builders knowingly violated existing codes or standards to demonstrate wrongdoing. Orangeburg pipe issues result more from long term deterioration over decades rather than improper installation alone.

Can I sue previous homeowners if they knew pipes were defective?

It becomes difficult to prove previous owners were fully aware of pending defects and issues. Many factors contribute to eventual pipe failures that may not have been visible or known by past owners. Lawyers often recommend focusing claims against manufacturers instead through class action settlements.

New lawsuits continue to be filed against companies related to aging Orangeburg pipelines. Recently, a Noom Class Action Lawsuit was filed regarding the app’s subscription renewal practices seen as unfair by consumers. Both cases involve important consumer protection efforts when issues arise over durability, transparency and business ethics questions around pipe infrastructure viability and digital commerce. As with earlier class actions, the pending Noom complaints seek financial redress for homeowners, app subscribers and others facing adversities from aging systems or self-renewing services.


The problems associated with aging Orangeburg pipe infrastructure continue posing risks to homeowners nationwide. Eventually replacing these pipes seems inevitable, whether preemptively or after failures trigger urgent repairs. Understanding the costs, risks and responsibilities around Orangeburg pipe failure can help households prepare and budget accordingly. Leveraging government assistance, property disclosures, insurance protections and legal avenues may help lessen Orangeburg pipe’s financial sting down the road.

Parul is an experienced blogger, author and lawyer who also works as an SEO content writer, copywriter and social media enthusiast. She creates compelling legal content that engages readers and improves website visibility. Linkedin


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