Pitch Fibre Pipe Repair – what you need to know

Here at Blockbusters we are often called upon to repair pitch fibre pipes for our customers. Here is a brief guide to pitch fibre pipes, and what you can do if you have them beneath your property.

Pitch fibre pipes – what are they?

Pitch fibre pipes were commonly installed between the 1950s and 1970s; they were introduced as a cheaper alternative to the more standard clay pipes. These days new drainage pipes are usually made from plastic, but there are still miles and miles of pitch fibre drainage pipework across the UK, mostly for properties built between the 1950s and 1970s, where there has never been a reason to replace and update them.

Pitch fibre pipes are made from wood cellulose impregnated with inert coal tar pitch. Back in the 1950s these were heralded as a brilliant, more lightweight and cost effective alternative to the heavier clay pipes that were traditionally used. The problem is that when they were made, they often had asbestos added in order to strengthen the pipes. As a general rule, any asbestos present in a pitch fibre pipe will be bound within the coal tar pitch – so it is safe, as long as it is left alone.

Any type of drainage pipe, whether it is pitch fibre, plastic or clay, is subject to the stresses and strains of modern life, but pitch fibre pipes in particular are especially prone to breakage.

What should I do if I have pitch fibre drainage pipes on my property?

If you have pitch fibre drainage pipes on your property and they are not leaking or damaged, it is probably best to leave them as they are. While the asbestos remains undisturbed and deep underground, it does not pose a health risk.

If you have pitch fibre drainage pipes on your property and they do appear to be leaking or damaged, you have two options: you can either excavate the pipework and have it replaced with modern plastic pipework, or you can opt to have the pipework repaired. Many of our customer opt for pitch fibre pipe repair because it is quicker, less time consuming and ultimately less costly that a disruptive excavation and replacement.

Whether you opt for replacement or repair, it is important to note that because of the asbestos element, pitch fibre pipes must only be dealt with by experts who are able to deal with them safely.

How are pitch fibre pipes repaired?

Here at Blockbusters we are specialists in pitch fibre pipe repairs. There are still numerous properties with pitch fibre drainage pipes across the south east of England, and we have repaired many of them over the years.

A damaged pipe can be relined using a polyester and felt lining which is applied internally and covers any cracks or small holes in the pitch fibre pipe. If this is not a suitable approach we may also consider patch lining, where we use a patch to cover a crack or hole. In some instances, if a pipe has more serious damage we may consider Brawloliner. This is a seamless elastic tube which can be used to line pipework that is under intense pressure and perhaps has more joints and corners to contend with.

Can I have my pitch fibre pipes replaced?

We are experts in pitch fibre pipe replacement, and if you decide you want to have new, heavy duty pipes installed in place of existing pitch fibre pipes we can do this for you. We will trace your drains first, to ensure we only dig in the correct places, and our team of experts will get your pipes replaced as quickly and efficiently as possible.

As a general rule, we would usually advise our customers to opt for repair rather than replacement of pitch fibre pipes as this is a more cost-effectiveand less disruptive method of dealing with any issues. That said, it was recently estimated that the “design life” of a pitch fibre pipe is around 40 years – so we are finding that more and more pitch fibre pipes do need to be replaced.


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