Many of our piping materials are made from plastic now. Water lines are mostly CPVC pipes and PEX pipes. Although there are several other types, those are the most common. We usually use PVC for the drainpipes in our area. It hasn’t always been this way, though. Years ago, copper was more common. Before that it was galvanized pipes and cast iron drainpipes, and even before that it was clay and concrete drainpipes. The products and materials have evolved to become much better (for the most part). However, not every innovation is sound, and sometimes a product is created or manufactured that doesn’t ultimately stand the test of time.
PEX and PVC have held up over the years, and one good thing about using plastic pipes is the fact that they don’t corrode like metal pipes do. Not all water is non-corrosive; water quality called acidic water can actually eat away at metals. If you have copper, brass, or other kinds of metal pipes, the water will eventually eat them away until there are pinholes in the pipe. Plastic doesn’t have this kind of problem. Acidic water will not eat away at plastic pipes. All the products that we use (and from a broader perspective, most of the products on the market today) are safe for drinking water. In other words, you don’t have to worry about the plastic degrading to the point that you’ll end up drinking it along with your water.
As far as drain lines go, PVC has been around for quite a few years and it has really proven itself to have very few downsides as long as it’s installed properly. Metal and cast iron pipes that were used in the drains from years past were the most durable kind of pipe that you could have. However, the joints were its weak spot because they were put together by melting lead (welding). Over time, those joints lose their integrity and become leaky, causing sewage to leak into the home, under the house, etc. which is unclean and unsafe. Plastic is a very good option for drain lines as long as they’re installed properly and you’re using good quality plastic products.
How can you tell when it’s time to think about replacing your plumbing pipes? The water lines are always under pressure, so if there’s a pinhole in a copper pipe, more than likely there will be more leaks to follow. I would say that if you get one leak, you might want to seriously consider replacing the piping entirely. After all, the whole piping system is around the same age and has been used under the same circumstances. You might want to seriously consider replacing the piping simply to prevent a leak that could cause damage to your home.
If you’re thinking about replacing the pipes in your home and want more information about your options, contact us online or give us a call at 540-483-9382. Different layouts and situations may warrant a different recommendation, so it’s definitely something that we can review and help homeowners to understand.