By Ben Wanner of Pro Service Mechanical
Today's homes may have one or a number of different types of plumbing pipe to supply water to the fixtures in your home. I will talk briefly about the most common types of supply plumbing pipe and touch on some of the issues with each of them. As always if you are not sure or suspect a plumbing issue in your home, call the pros at Pro Service at 306-230-2442
- Greyish metal in appearance
- used until about 1950
- 40 to 60 year life expectancy
- when found it is usually in need of replacement
Common Problems include pipe corrosion. Rust accumulates in the pipe and makes the pipe diameter smaller and smaller. This will cause poor water pressure. The pipes often rust through and leak at the fittings and threads.
A common solution would be to replace the piping, in most cases it requires replacement.
- started being used after about 1950
- 1/2 or 3/4 inch sizes
- type M and type L the most common
- soldered connections
Copper piping should last a very long, undetermined amount of time unless the water is corrosive or there is a very high flow rate. Older soldered connections may contain lead.
Most Copper piping is generally left as is unless it has other issues.
- used from the late 1970's to late 1990's
- grey coloured pipe
- history of leakage issues and lawsuits
- no longer commonly used
Most of the leak problems with PB have to do with plastic fittings. If you have these type of fittings and leaks are occurring, you may need to replace your entire plumbing system. If copper fittings are present there is less chance of failure, however poor installation can cause issues with leakage as well.
If PB is present in your home I suggest having an inspection from a professional plumbing company to ensure there will not be significant issues down the road.
Cross-linked Polyethylene (PEX)
- most commonly used in new homes
- clear, read, blue, orange colours
- less susceptible to freezing damage and pressure loss than copper
- requires good support
- should not be exposed to long term UV radiation
Certain types of PEX can have serious issues, however most PEX installs do not cause significant problems. This is a newer product so we will have to see how it performs in the long term.
Kitec (specific type of PEX)
- used from 1995 to 2007
- solid wall PEX with embedded aluminum
- pipes may say Kitec, Plumbetter, WarmRite, Ambio Comfort, Kitec XPA, IPEX AQUA, KERR Controls, XPA
- Fittings say Kitec or KT
- no longer used
- orange colour on heating systems, blue and red on supply piping
a class action lawsuit was issued against the manufacturer of Kitec and people with the piping in their home may be entitled to compensation thru the manufacturer. The fittings have high zinc levels which may cause corrosion. Leaks and damage are common as well as low water pressure. Look for bulging in the pipe and dark areas.
Common Problems with Supply Plumbing in the House
During warm weather and high humidity, cold water pipes may sweat. A common solution is to insulate the piping
When closing a fixture off quickly, water hammer can occur. This often sounds like loud banging and shaking of the pipe. It can actually damage your supply piping. A common solution is to pipe in or install air chambers that give the water an air cushion. Properly securing pipes also stops noise and vibration.
Any place where a change in pressure or vacuum could cause the supply plumbing system to draw waste water into the piping and contaminate the water supply is a possible cross connection. An exterior hose in a pail of dirty water could be an example of a cross connection. A common solution would be to install a backflow preventer.
We have talked about this with PB, galvanized and Kitec plumbing pipe. You may wish to have your plumbing system inspected by a professional. Check out our plumbing page to learn more.
For more information about freezing water lines and how to prevent them check out our blog post on freezing water lines here.
Poor Water Flow or Pressure
Poor water pressure can really affect the functionality of your plumbing system. A common approach is to replace a portion of, or the entire plumbing system if necessary.
If you have any other questions about supply plumbing feel free to contact us at 306-230-2442