Remodeling a home means having choices and making decisions. So if you’re planning to remodel your kitchen, bathroom or add a new room, be prepared to spend an endless number of hours looking at options and making final selections.
When it comes to cabinets, faucets, light fixtures and floor coverings, there are a lot of choices. Such as different styles, colors, finishes, price ranges, etc. Even windows come in different shapes, sizes and energy efficiency ratings. Yet, when it comes to something as important as the plumbing, it seems ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is the norm. Most people don’t ask any questions about the plumbing. They also assume they don’t have any choices to make.
For many decades, metal (in the form of galvanized steel or copper) was the only material available. Look in the walls (or maybe garage walls for exposed pipes) of any un-remodeled home built before the 1960s and you’ll probably see all metallic pipes.
Leading choice of plumbing materials over the last few centuries have been the following:
- Cast iron
- Galvanized steel
There’s nothing wrong with the classic choices of copper and galvanized steel. They work well and have their advantages. But know that today there is a host of other alternative materials, many of which are varying forms of plastic, now available to choose from. We like to help guide our home remodeling clients on the best choice to fit the right application.
PVC and CPVC Plastic Pipe
Plastic pipe also known as PVC and an enhanced version called CPVS are rapidly gaining popularity. Why has plastic gained such popularity? Metal has demonstrated a number of pitfalls through the years that have been documented by numerous studies and lawsuits. Pinhole leaks and premature system failures, caused by metal’s natural tendency to pit, corrode and scale, have opened the door for more reliable, virtually maintenance-free systems.
Not that PVC is without its unique characteristics, advantages and pitfalls too. PVC has a lower external strength than metal. Meaning that is has lower a PSI rating and is more susceptible to damage by crushing or puncturing with tools.
What is CPVC?
You can think of CPVC as PVC’s cousin. PVC is most commonly found in sprinkler pipes and drainage systems. They are similar in many ways, but they shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Both are made of the same basic elements with one distinguishing factor. CPVC is altered by a free radical chlorination reaction that effectively increases the chlorine content of the material. CPVC is also a thermoplastic that is molded into many of the same products as PVC.
This difference in makeup allows CPVC to withstand a wider range of temperatures. This is why many building codes require the use of CPVC as opposed to PVC for use in hot water applications. The ASTM standard allows PVC to be used in applications not exceeding 140 degrees F.
Temperatures over this can cause softening of the material and weakening of joints. CPVC on the other hand can handle temperatures up to 200 degrees F. There are certain advantages of CPVC (post-chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) plumbing systems and pipe fittings over metallic systems.
Top 4 Advantages of CPVC over Metal Pipes
- Primarily, they never pit, scale or corrode, which eliminates the risk of premature failures and costly re-piping, in addition to possible property damage.
- CPVC systems are also highly energy efficient with natural insulating properties that keep hot water hotter and cold water colder than metallic systems. In addition, condensation, which is a common problem with metallic pipes that can cause drip damage to walls and foundation, is virtually eliminated.
- PVC piping has gained high marks for its ability to maintain water quality. There is no leaching or metal contamination into the water supply, so there are no related health concerns. And without pitting or corrosion, CPVC systems are able to maintain full water carrying capacity throughout their entire life. If you’ve ever looked inside a piece of old copper pipe, you’ve probably seen a thick layer of hard minerals. These minerals can dramatically reduce the diameter of the pipe, which reduces water flow and water pressure, and can inhibit the efficiency of many water-using appliances. Eventually, homeowners with corroded pipes must completely re-pipe their home at an average cost of $6,000.
- No more noisy pipes due to ‘water hammer’ when you abruptly shut off flow, such as a shower, sink or washing machine running through its fill and drain cycles. Through the years, many homeowners have come to accept water hammer in their homes, which is typical of metallic systems. CPVC systems, on the other hand, resist water hammer. They also minimize water flow noise, which has been proven by independent testing laboratories to be four times louder in copper pipes.
CPVC systems are most often used in new construction. They are compatible with other plumbing systems used in kitchen remodeling projects, the addition of bathrooms, or the replacement of a failed copper or galvanized steel system. Using CPVC pipe for home water pipes eliminates toxic metal contamination caused by using all other types of new metal pipes. Additionally CPVC eliminates the certainty of contamination in your drinking water that comes from metal pipe corrosion.
Call us today about your plumbing concerns and various choices of piping materials. We are happy to help guide you towards the best plumbing for you and your home taking into account usage, health concerns, cost, and overall plumbing system longevity.