Is my water pipe reliable and worthy of repair?
History of PVC Pipe & related facts:
From 1936 to 1939 over 400 residences were installed with PVC drinking water and waste pipelines in central Germany. Various test pipelines of PVC were laid in Leipzig, Dresden, Magdeburg, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Heidelberg and Wiesbaden during the period of 1936 to 1941. Both the pipelines for chemicals and those for water supply and waste water came up to expectations, as did the test pipelines in the cities mentioned above, apart from damage caused by World War II. The PVC pipes installed in central Germany are still in use today without any major problems.
Read the full artical on the Water Conservation Links page!
Does PVC pipe have a long life expectancy?
Yes, studies on PVC pipe made in Europe in the 1930’s and been in continuous use suggest a very long useful life for these products of a hundred years or more, which will generally exceed the lifespan of the structures they are installed in.
Can PVC piping products be recycled?
Yes they can. Since PVC pipe products have very long useful lives, not much pipe is currently available for recycling as it is still in use. While current standards do not generally allow for the practice of recycling used pipes into new certified pipes. PVC pipe producers can recycle nearly all production scrap in-house. Since PVC is a thermoplastic PVC pipe can simply be reground, pulverized and returned to the extrusion process to make new pipe.
Why do I need to use primer on a PVC solvent welded joints?
Primer is a mixture of solvents, similar to those found in the cement and is used to soften or prime” the pipe and fitting prior to adding cement. Use of primer may be required by code in your area. Visit our cements page for more information on solvent cementing.
What is the best way to repair a leaking PVC solvent weld joint?
Whenever possible, cut out the leaking joint and start over. A leaking solvent welded joint is an indication that the joint was not made correctly. It may not have been fully bottomed, a component may have been damaged or foreign materials may be trapped inside the joint. For a temporary repair, plastic fillet hot air welding can be used on the outside of the pipe and fitting to stop very minor leaks. This should only be used as a short term measure before the joint can be replaced.
Does long term exposure to sunlight degrade exposed PVC pipes?
PVC pipe contains stabilizers to protect the pipe against attack by UV present in sunlight. After several months of outdoor exposure a discoloration may appear on the surface of the pipe, however, the performance of the pipe is not affected. After two years of exposure, there is only a slight reduction in the impact resistance of the material. PVC pipe used in permanent outdoor exposures should be protected by a light colored compatible water based paint. Do not use oil based paints.
Is PVC pipe easier to install than alternative materials?
PVC pipe is a light weight yet strong material when compared to many alternatives. A length of PVC pipe will weigh 1/5th of an equivalent size section of cast iron pipe making it easier to install. This product is easily assembled in solvent-welded or gasketed versions that are both intended to be leak free, once properly assembled.
PVC/CPVC – rigid plastic pipes similar to PVC drain pipes but with thicker walls to deal with municipal water pressure, introduced around 1970. PVC should be used for cold water only, or venting. CPVC can be used for hot and cold potable water supply. Connections are made with primers and solvent cements as required by code.
Polyethylene Pipe (PE):
Black polyethylene (PE) comes in several thicknesses with typically only two connections on a single short run and a good performance history. It is estimated that 95% of new home water service lines are black PE. And that 100% of new gas service lines are yellow PE. Polyethylene pipe’s wide acceptance and use for natural gas distribution is the strongest statement that can be made about polyethylene pipe’s corrosion resistance and leak-tight nature. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipes do not undergo galvanic corrosion and are suited for “aggressive soils.”
They do not rust, rot, corrode, tuberculate, or support biological growth.
Galvanized pipe was used extensively in homes that are now over 30 years old. It was originally used as water supply lines. It is steel pipe that is covered with a layer of zinc to increase life expectancy and avoid corrosion. Galvanized pipe has a tendency to react with the minerals in the water it carries, producing scale that can lead to lower water pressure.
As with any pipe material, galvanized pipe can have an unexpected leak and is commonly fixed using a dresser coupling. If you are not having water pressure issues you might consider having the leak repaired. Your plumber can advise the best repair solution.
Copper pipe came into use after WWII and at times, was used for both water supply and waste water lines. Due to the high cost of the material, it has been used primarily for supply lines and even that is less and less common today. With few exceptions, copper pipe is a very reliable water supply line material. In some pre-1980 installations a high lead solder may have been used and this may result in higher lead levels in water supply.
Pex or “crosslinked polyethylene pipe” is a relatively newer product on the market. It has been in use for over 10 years and is establishing itself as an industry standard. Lower cost and ease of installation are only some of the reason’s for its popularity. Pex lends itself to the distribution of water supply be means of a manifold. This means that the water supply for any faucet or room can be controlled at a nearby location and not only at a main valve.
No longer in use and rarely found in US homes. In some older homes some lead pipe may be found in waste lines. As long as such pipes are functional they can continue to be used and don’t pose a hazard. If problems arise or such pipes are found during remodeling, they should be replaced with ABS or PVC pipe.
If you have a leaking water pipe and would like it located for a potentially simple repair without needless guessing and disruption to your property, we can help!
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