Orangeburg pipe (also known as “fiber conduit”, “bituminous fiber pipe” or “Bermico”) is bituminized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pipe pressed together. It was used from the 1860’s through the 1970’s, when it was replaced by PVC pipe for water delivery and ABS pipe for drain-waste-vent (DWV) applications.
It was observed in early usage that Orangeburg was susceptible to deformation from pressure. Deformed Orangeburg has been referred to as “egg-shaped” and is subject to blistering. Thus, manufacturers urged “bedding” the pipes in sand or pea gravel to prevent rupture.
The useful life for an Orangeburg pipe is about 50 years under ideal conditions, but has been known to fail in as little as 10 years. It has been taken off the list of acceptable materials by most building codes.
This type of drain line would most likely only be known to the inspector if there was a sewer scope done at the property and that information is shared with the inspector. If the inspector does see this, they would want to inform the client of the potential of having to replace the drain lines and to have it further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor.