Although many plumbing systems can outlast the home in which they are installed, there are a growing number of reports of copper and galvanized systems that start leaking in as little as a few years. In fact, the problem is so bad that the use of copper has been banned altogether for plumbing applications.
What causes such premature failures? The most common cause of failure is corrosion and pitting caused by corrosive water or soil conditions.
Homeowners should take more time to investigate their water quality before naively choosing copper as their plumbing material and points out that the copper warranty that many builders and homeowners hope to rely on is void in areas of aggressive water or soil.
What is the best way to protect yourself against costly repairs and replacement of your plumbing system?
We recommend that annually you inspect plumbing pipes for leakage or signs of weakness. Look for rust, corrosion, greenish deposits and mineral deposits around fittings, valves, household fixtures and along the length of the pipe. Remember that most problems start off as pinhole leaks. Water from small holes often evaporates before a drip forms, leaving only a telltale whitish or colored deposit. Once you experience two or more leaks, you should assume that the problem is likely to continue and may require more extensive repairs, or even total replacement, at an average cost of $4,500 to $6,000. Even without signs of corrosion or pinhole leaks, your plumbing may show other signs that a replacement is necessary. Decreased water flow or pressure indicates that scale has built up inside the metal pipe, significantly decreasing its diameter. Scaling occurs naturally with all metal pipe and can sometimes cause as much expense to repair as leaking pipes.
To completely avoid the problem of corrosion, pitting and scaling, which are characteristic of metallic plumbing systems, choose an alternative material, either for repairs or replacement, that is NSF-certified for potable water applications.
CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), which has proven reliable in more than 40 years of field testing, never pits, corrodes or scales– regardless of water or soil conditions. In addition, many CPVC plumbing systems, such as FlowGuard Gold CPVC pipe and fittings, install quickly and easily via a one-step solvent cement bonding system (vs. welding) which eliminates the risk of fire damage during installation. CPVC transition fittings are available for situations where it is necessary to repair just a portion of an existing metallic plumbing system.
FlowGuard Gold CPVC systems offer the additional benefit of quieter operation. In fact, laboratory tests show the systems to be four times quieter than copper, which reduces the need for and cost of water hammer arrestors, which are commonly required with metallic systems. Even more important from a potential water damage standpoint, CPVC plumbing systems virtually eliminate condensation and “sweaty pipes” which can cause costly drip damage to walls, structure and contents over time.