If you suspect that the plumbing in your home is beginning to deteriorate, it may be time to undertake a repiping project. Depending on the type of piping you are currently using, and the signs of failure your home is exhibiting, your project may only involve certain lines, or may involve your whole house. No matter how small or how large your project is, you must first decide which type of piping you are going to replace your lines with.
What Type Of Piping Do You Have Now?
Everything in your home has a lifespan, including your plumbing. This is often dictated by the type of piping you have, as well as how hard your water is. This is because hard water has a high mineral content, which in turn will leave deposits in your pipes. These deposits will build up over time inside of your pipes and can eventually lead to the failure of your pipes, as well as a reduced lifespan of any of your appliances that use water.
Even if you do not have a problem with hard water, different types of pipes are designed to last different amounts of time. Some of the most common lifespans of some of the older types of pipes that have been used in homes are as follows:
- Galvanized steel = 30 - 50 years.
- Brass = 40 - 70 years
- Copper = 50 + years
- Cast Iron = 75 - 100 years
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) = Indefinitely
- Polybutylene = Unknown, this has a high rate of failure and needs to be completely replaced.
- Lead = 100 years but can lead to lead contamination in your water and needs to be replaced immediately.
What Type Of Piping Will You Choose?
Although some of these pipes, such as copper, are still in use, other newer materials are also now available on the market. Many of these materials are not only cheaper to use, but they are an improvement over the older materials. Some of the newer materials include:
Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) - If you are looking for a lightweight plastic piping to replace the piping you currently have, you may want to consider PEX. It is flexible, does not corrode, and is resistant to a build up of lime, scale, and chlorine. Because it is flexible has fewer connections and fittings, it is faster and easier to install than some of the other materials on the market.
It has been widely used in the US since the early 80's and it continues to grow in popularity. Some additional benefits include:
- Resistant to freezing
- Resistant to heat transfer
- Conserves energy
- Quieter than copper piping
- Less expensive to install than copper
Unfortunately, it also has some disadvantages. These disadvantages include:
- Affected by ultraviolet rays so it can't be used outside
- Not recyclable
- Can be cut or punctured
PVC - One of the most common types of plumbing pipes is polyvinyl chloride or PVC piping. This is the heavy white piping constructed from a combination of plastic and vinyl. It has been used for years as a replacement for metal plumbing. It is lightweight, durable, as well as easy and inexpensive to install. In addition to these it is also:
- Rust resistant
- Have good elastic properties
- Requires less joints, which reduces the chances of it leaking and more
- They can withstand movement and shaking
The disadvantages of this type of pipe are:
- They can easily crack under pressure
- They have poor strength in areas with higher temperatures
CPVC - Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) was designed to help offset these disadvantages found in PVC pipes. CPVC is changed by free radical chlorination reactions used to increase the chlorine content of this piping. This addition allows the pipes to endure a wider range of temperatures. This makes it a better choice for homes in areas that experience extreme temperatures, as well as a good choice for hot water lines and liquid heating systems..
These are just a few of the piping options that are currently on the market. As technology continues to change and improve, you will probably see others. Ask your plumber about their preference. They will be able to tell you which types are holding up better in your area.