Is My Water Pipe Made of Good Materials and Worthy of Repair?
We hope you find this information both informative and helpful. Most of us are not pipe experts or have the knowledge in choosing the best plumbing materials. Most installed water pipes were installed professionally using good materials for their time and many will have years if not decades of service life left.
This is why we advocate the process of finding and fixing a hidden leak as a discovery process first. This is a good opportunity to request your repair contractor or plumber to save a piece of the repaired pipe for your future reference. If the pipe should leak again even years later this little piece of pipe will help guide future solutions.
If the leak is located in the middle of a long water line, an isolation valve could be additionally installed at the repair site giving opportunity to only replace half the line if the material is poor. If the material is good, then only half the pipe needs to be searched for the hidden leak which saves time and expense. A spot repair is often the least cost while providing a wealth of information.
Here’s a thought to ponder; if a homeowner spends thousands or tens of thousands for a new water pipe, the end results could be the exact same except for one big thing. That is a fixed leak, water bills back to normal and the same looking yard, however with the exception of a much emptier wallet. This is why a discovery process always offers the best value.
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.
Does PVC Pipe Have a Long Life Expectancy?
Yes, studies on PVC pipe made in Europe in the 1930s 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. 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 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 Welded 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 lightweight 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.
Rigid plastic pipes similar to PVC drainpipes 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)
Polyethylene pipe (PE) comes in several different types to serve various purposes around residential and commercial properties.
- Black polyethylene comes in several thicknesses with typically two connections on a single short run. It also has a good performance history. It is estimated that 95% of new home water service lines are black PE.
- Additionally, an estimated 100% of new gas service lines are yellow polyethylene. PE’s wide acceptance and use for natural gas distribution is the strongest statement that can be made about the material’s corrosion resistance and leak-tight nature.
- High density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes do not undergo galvanic corrosion and are suited for aggressive soils. Polyethylene pipes 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 for 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 was used for both water supply and wastewater lines.
Due to the high cost of the material, it has been used primarily for supply lines, though this is 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. This may result in higher lead levels in water supply.
PEX (or crosslinked polyethylene pipe) is a relatively newer product. 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 reasons for its popularity.
PEX lends itself to the distribution of water supply by means of a manifold. This means that the water supply for any faucet or room can be controlled at a nearby location, rather than 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 if such pipes are found during remodeling, they should be replaced with ABS or PVC pipe.
Give Simply Leak Detection a call, day or night, to discuss a hidden water pipe issue beneath your property. I’d love to personally help and care that you receive great service.
Michael Fend, Owner
Simply Leak Detection LLC