Any idea what they were using for sewer pipe back in the late 50’s in the older parks?

Clay tile.  All the parks I have worked in that were built before 1965 used clay tile for mains and risers.  Shortly after that a cheap thinwall pipe was introduced to the industry, replaced plenty of that through the years too.

Is that the same as Orangeburg?

No.  Orageburg is a paper product(!) impregnated with tar: is insanely bad.  Clay is ‘bad-to-OK.’  The key issue with clay is whether there are many trees on your property.  If so, then the trees will get into the clay title, crush it, and it’s ‘bad.’  If there are no/few trees on your property, then clay pipe is probably ‘OK.’  Of course, the newer schedule 40 sewer pipe is awesome - but you’ll probably only see that on parks built post-1980 or so.-jl-

DaleM :Clay is what I think it is too.  I am trying to get a feel to see if I want to pursue the park before I drive up.My commercial rental has clay and never given me any issues after owning it for over 30yrs… built in 1964 yr.Jefferson:Orangeburg was a deal breaker for me.-thx guys for your timely input.

We have owned over 200 parks – with by far the majority clay tile – and never replaced a single sewer system. Jefferson is correct about tree roots, but you learn to work around it and Roto-Rooter has cutting blades that can eradicate them until they grow back. Since sewer is not pressurized, as long as it does not back up, all is OK, unlike water. Don’t be afraid of clay tile. But DO be afraid of Orangeburg – it is typically a deal killer unless there is room in the price for complete replacement, and even then everything else has to be super compelling.

frankrolfe :  Thanks for your input… good stuff.Now that I brought that up I am assuming it will have cast iron water piping infrastructure ?  Or rather should I ask have you experienced problems with water piping from that era with your many parks?BTW… it is a city water/sewer park.-thx

Yes, we’ve had cast iron. It’s fine. Only negative is that occasionally the line develops a “belly” in which it sags and causes recurring Roto-Rooter issues in some sections. No big deal.

 …found this cool piping chart from 1900 to yr 2000Ok good… feeling better about buying this park so far.I owned an older house… maybe early 60’s that I changed out the a/c overflow in attic once and it was about 30% clogged with scaling/lime. I guess depends on the hardness of the water.


Frank I think the cast iron piping he is referencing is in terms of the potable water system.  If that is the case, cast iron pipe holds up a lot better than galvanized pipe.  Many of the older parks here in the Chicagoland area have galvanized plumbing in the ground.  Seems like it’s useful life is about 30 years.  Maybe it’s all the lousy backfill in the ground that causes the problems.  Fixed plenty of those lines over the years.

I’ve never had cast iron water pipes, to my knowledge, strictly galvanized or PVC. We have only replaced one water system in the last 200 parks; Columbus, Ohio. We just patch the lines and keep going.

Clay tile pipe should last a very long time.  However, I do not know what the design life is but it should be at least as long as cast iron (CI) pipe which is 30 years and often it will go 50 to 60 years trouble free.  Thirty years should be the minimum that you get from vitreous clay or just plain clay pipe.  To my knowledge, ci pipe is not used for drinking water systems, usually it’s copper or galvanized iron or PVC.I would point out that the root problem will occur with any pipe system that has joints in it through which the tree roots could ‘smell’ water.  The most effective thing to do for root intrusion short of cutting down the tree is to use a foaming root killer.  You would not clear the roots first but rather fill the line in the area of the roots with the foam and let the roots ‘drink’ the poison for a short period, 1 to 2 hours as I recall.  After that, the roots inside will fall off while the roots outside will die without killing the tree.  I do not recall the name of the product but there must be several on the market and some of them may require professional use.Also, low spots in the line are usually caused either by settling or by improper installation.  The correct slope or grade to obtain ‘scouring’ speed is 2% or 1/4 inch per foot and the pipe is supposed to be ‘bedded’ on several inches of tamped down sand.  Scouring speed prevents solids, including grit like sand and small gravel, from settling out.Also, low spots, especially long ones, will cause the effluent to go anaerobic.  This means that the aerobic bacteria have consumed all of the oxygen in the water which allows the anaerobic bacteria to flourish on the dead aerobic bacteria and any other organic matter.  Anaerobic bacteria produce carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide (CO2, CH4, and H2S respectively).  Needless to say, you don’t want any of these gasses to get into any structure, ever.  CO2 and CH4 are odorless and colorless.  H2S, however, has the telltale rotten egg smell and, like CH4, it is flammable.  Hydrogen sulfide is called an ‘insidious’ gas because after a short while it will paralyze the olfactory glands in your nose so that you can no longer smell it.In the case of orangeburg pipe, the only thing you could do is to price in to your offer the complete replacement of it.  In CA there are many houses that still have laterals going out to the street that are made of orangeburg pipe.  The cities mostly refuse to do anything with orangeburg laterals except where they cross onto their easement at the sidewalk.   However, I was reading proposed water and sewer rate increases for the City of Santa Ana this week and they are implementing a new flat fee of $1 per billing period for laterals.  This may be how they are dealing with orangeburg pipe laterals.  Hopefully, other cities will get smart and follow suit.  Hope the foregoing helps.Jim Allen

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What’s a quick and easy way to verify a system is non Orangeburg? I knew the system on my park was clay before I made an offer but the agent on a park I’m interested in is telling me the lines are PVC. This is a 60’s park so I sincerely doubt it. Wondering if there’s a shortcut as with reasonable suspicion I’d prefer to save the effort of making an offer much less having a plumber out there or even worse go as far as having the lines scoped before finding out.

I’ve been able to get that information from the county zoning office before.  They usually have a map of the sewer/water line layout of the park and they sometimes know what material it’s made out of.  It isn’t guaranteed that they’ll have it, but you can certainly check with them first for free.

To clarify, ductile iron is what I meant by cast iron water pipes.  Sorry if that was confusing for anybody.

If there is any doubt about having orangeburg pipe I would get a small section somewhere scoped.  Yes, it will be a couple hundred bucks but view it like insurance.  You could also talk to the plumber, if the owner has one, that has done work in this park.  Also, if the construction date of the park falls outside the years the years that orangeburg was manufactured, which I don’t know, you should be ok.  I read that article on wikipedia once but do not remember any dates. 
My comment above about the City of Santa Ana setting up a fund for lateral replacement should be clarified.  The proposal does not specifically say that funds would be used for lateral replacement where orangeburg pipe was used.  Even if it is the case that they would be replacing orangeburg laterals it would probably not apply to commercial properties or to multifamily properties like MHPs and certainly not inside the park.
If you find yourself making a bid on an MHP with orangeburg you will want at least 2 firm bids from local plumbers who know both the area and the soil.  Then, when you become the new owner and are having the lines replaced, you can tell your tenants that you’re doing the right thing, making improvements, and keeping their park ship shape for their benefit.
Jim Allen