Unfortunately, many homes made before the 1970s were built with something known as Orangeburg Pipe (aka Bermico or “fiber conduit”). This is a sewer and drains pipe that is made from a kind of tar paper called “bituminized fiber.”
Orangeburg Pipe paper collapses over time and it allows tree roots to grow into it. Orangeburg cannot be rootered because the rooter blade mechanism will rip it.
From Sewer History: “Orangeburg pipe is comprised of cellulose fibers impregnated with hot coaltar pitch. The joints are gasketless. The pipe often softens and deforms with age, allowing infiltration and root intrusion. Two varieties exist one with solid (homogeneous) walls and one with laminated walls. This pipe material was widely used in house laterals for over 70 years — until PVC took over.”
What can be done? Courtesy Plumbing can answer definitively because we have a modern solution: Video Pipe Inspection can eliminate the guesswork, can locate what and where the problem is. Of course, Orangeburg Pipe is a strong candidate for sewer replacement. It is NOT to Code.