Think about this – all the water in your home is brought to you by pipes. Simple concept. Another age-old truth that holds true in our world today: out of sight, out of mind. We typically don’t put much thought into what our piping looks like, what condition it’s in, or what material it’s made of – until it starts causing problems. Let’s take a quick look at the most common types of water lines in homes today, how they can affect your home, and when it’s best to get those lines replaced.
Up until the 1960’s, galvanized iron piping was the most widely used material for water supply lines in homes across the United States. If you see metallic gray piping in your home, chances are you have galvanized water lines. The galvanization process produced incredibly strong piping initially, but led to future issues in homes. As this material corrodes, lead and rust are introduced to your water throughout your home, which pose a great risk to your family’s health. The EPA's website features an awesome PDF breaking down the dangers of lead in plumbing systems. The corrosion of galvanized lines also leads to the damage and clogging of valuable fixtures and vital emergency shut offs when rust breaks off from the interior of the pipe and is carried down line, which greatly limits the water flow and your experience at the faucet.
In the 60’s and 70’s, most new construction plumbing was done with copper piping, which was introduced as the new, much safer way to deliver water. Copper’s strong point is that it does not release dangerous contaminants and chemicals into the water supply over time. However, it has proved to be extremely susceptible to acidic water, aggressive municipal water, and electrolysis, which all lead to decomposition of the piping. You can check out a report on copper pinhole failures here. You may notice green or white corrosive marks on piping, especially where it contacts other metals such as strapping and fasteners, eventually resulting in pinhole leaks throughout the home.
Because copper is so expensive, an alternative material was created for water distribution known as PVC (poly-vinyl chloride)and CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride). You’ll recognize these water lines by their white or yellow plastic hue. This plastic piping could be manufactured for pennies on the dollar compared to copper, and became a favorite material for pinched budgets. While it avoids the dangerous corrosive components of galvanized and copper, it becomes very brittle overtime with temperature changes and freezing temperatures almost always results in broken pipes. The plumbing industry has primarily moved away from PVC for water supply, but it remains the most efficient material for drains, venting, and waste water lines.
The Solution – Type A Expansion PEX
Now the reigning champion of water supply systems around the world, Expansion PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) has become the go-to for both new homes and plumbing replacements in existing structures. PEX contains no corrosive components, and boasts the ability to expand and contract without cracking or bursting, making it virtually weather-proof.
If you’ve been fighting pipe leaks, poor water flow, or bad water quality, it’s probably time to consider replacing your old piping with Expansion PEX. At Tennessee Standard, we have mastered a cutting-edge process for removing old water lines and replacing them with new Expansion PEX from the water meter all the way to every fixture in your home – all with minimal disturbance to sheet rock, the structure of the home, and most importantly, your life. If you’d like to know what this would look like for your home, give us a call - our re-pipe specialists are ready to create a custom quote with multiple options to get your home’s plumbing systems up to date and leak-free.