Pipe Choices When Weighing Plumbing Repair Options
Believe it or not, like medical breakthroughs and computing speed, plumbing progress moves forward yearly. Knowing a little bit about how piping materials evolved will help you make a good decision about any simple or complex San Diego plumbing repair you are facing today. The most recent piping material, PEX with its strength, low cost and flexibility seems promising, but just debuting in the 1990s, some believe this material has not passed the test of time yet. Reading here about why some plumbing pipe materials come in and out of favor can help you understand your plumber’s recommendations and pick the right material for your home or business.
Plumbing Piping Over Time
The first plumbing pipes were wooden . . . hollowed out trees, in fact. Because of leaking issues, however, by the 1820’s cast iron and brass began replacing hollowed logs or wood secured with metal straps. Piping from these metals dominated plumbing for more than a century. In some of San Diego’s oldest homes, we still find cast iron piping!
Iron and brass had a big problem, however: they leached lead into the water. Lead ingestion causes delays in physical and mental development in children, along with deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults drinking lead-infused water experience increases in blood pressure and kidney problems.
You can tell if you have lead pipes if you scratch the surface of your black pipe to find a lighter gray beneath. Do not fear, however, if you have iron pipes. It is possible that you may just need to replace the problematic areas. Also, if a water test shows that your water falls under the EPA’s lead 15 ppb limit, your water is safe. Consulting with your plumber helps ease your mind about lead in your water.
1935: Copper Shimmers onto the Plumbing Scene
Flexible enough to bend around corners without a joint and containing lower levels of lead, copper water supply pipes came into widespread use in 1935. For various reasons, homeowners today still choose copper over the more modern materials like PEX and CPVC (see below). Around for 80 years, copper has proven to last more than 50 years.
Copper has some drawbacks, however. It does leach into the water, and while mostly harmless for adults, can affect children under 1 year old. The EPA recommends plumbing repair if copper appears in more than 10% of tap water samples show copper levels higher than 1,300 ppb. Copper piping can also develop “pinhole leaks” which eventually cause damage to surrounding drywall and wood. Finally, with a scrap metal price of $2 to $3 per pound, copper piping can be an enticement to thieves who tear it right out of the walls.
1960: Plastic PVC Takes Over
Lighter and far cheaper than copper, PVC became the plumbing material of choice starting in the 1960s. While at first some complained of a plastic taste in the water, these complaints dissipated and by 1977, PVC pipe was considered safe on the whole. Today, the majority of homes in the U.S. are plumbed with PVC. Some groups still believe that PVC pipe leaches plastic into the drinking water and advise homeowners against using it.
1990’s Flexible PEX Solves Issues
PEX, approved just a few years ago in California, is a flexible plastic material. About one-third the price of copper, PEX can bend around corners where PVC would need a joint. With far fewer joints involved in PEX plumbing, fewer toxic solvents are used, lowering the risk of any chemicals leaching into the water. We have had great success using PEX in new home construction and remodels.
A+ Rated Perry Plumbing Helps You Understand the Pros and Cons of All Plumbing Materials
Choice of plumbing materials is an individual homeowner issue that stems from budget, house age and style, environmental and health concerns. San Diego plumbing repair experts Perry Plumbing always provide information to help you feel confident about your home’s pipes. Particularly in old homes, the plumbing system can be a mish-mash of plumbing materials. You could be looking at replacement in some areas but plumbing repairs and others. Feel free to call us at 619-472-2112 to take care of your plumbing system’s issues once and for all. Our plumbing repair coupons and specials help keep your budget happy. Check out our Better Business Bureau A+ rating and our Google Plus four- and five-star ratings online!