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Fresh Water & Drain Pipe

Broken Copper Pipe

The Problem with Copper

As copper plumbing becomes old, pinhole leaks become increasingly common. The primary cause for this, however, is not merely aging of the pipes. Unfortunately, pinhole leaks in copper pipes typically occur in places where they are not observed until there has been significant water damage and mold infection. There are varying explanations for these leaks, but several causes are widely recognized within the industry. The three most common of these are chloramines in municipal water systems, particles of corrosion from aging water heaters, and high water pressure inside the pipes.

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Polybutylene Pipes

Polybutylene Pipes

Homes are being bought and sold at a quick pace again, and any house built between 1978 and 1995 probably started out with Polybutylene plumbing pipes. If your house has not been re-piped it has been blacklisted by nearly all insurance companies. This isn’t because insurers want to be mean. It is because there is evidence that Polybutylene fails more often than other types of plumbing.

Polybutylene was considered the pipe of the future back in the 1970’s because it was very inexpensive and easy to install. Time has shown that oxidants in the public water supply – like chlorine – can actually make the pipes brittle and prone to breakage. In fact, the 1980’s saw multiple law suits filed against manufacturers of Polybutylene. The pipe makers never admitted to a product weakness, but they did settle for $950 million in a Class Action case.

PVC Pipe Inside Your Home

 The reason for not allowing PVC for distribution pipe is that it is not rated to withstand the thermal expansion stress caused by hot water. Even cold water pipe inside a home can end up with hot water in it, because the heat inside a water heater transfers backward through the water in the cold water supply pipe. If you wrapped your hands around both the hot and cold pipes at the top of a water heater, it would difficult to tell them apart based on their temperature near where they penetrate the tank.

PVC Pipes

Cast Iron Drain Line

Cast iron materials are no longer used and haven't really been in use for a few decades now. Most older cast iron materials were installed from the 1930's to early 1960's. What does this mean? It means this material is now 50-80 years old. More importantly, what is the typical life expectancy of this old material? Above ground usage in walls, ceilings, and basement areas had a typical life expectancy of 60-70 years. Below grade usage such as under slabs, or buried in the ground running out to the city sewer had only a 50-year life expectancy. Thus, we are now well within these time frames where repair and replacement are imminent.

Many waste line run under porches, slabs, driveways, swimming pools, garages, etc. Tree root intrusion also can significantly damage these old lines. These lines can also simply become brittle and collapse leading to blockages and back-ups into the structure. Not a pleasant experience. 

One option available is to have a video evaluation of the line all the way out to the street. This is achieved by running a camera down the line and videoing the line all the way out to the main sewer.

Cast Iron Drain Line

Orangeburg Pipe

Orangeburg Pipe

Orangeburg pipe (also known as "fiber conduit", "bituminous fiber pipe" or "Bermico") is bitumenized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together.[1] It was used from the 1860s through the 1970s, when it was replaced by PVC pipe for water delivery and ABS pipe for drain-waste-vent (DWV) applications. The name comes from Orangeburg, New York, the town in which most Orangeburg pipe was manufactured. It was manufactured largely by the Fiber Conduit Company, which changed its name to the Orangeburg Manufacturing Company in 1948.

The useful life for an Orangeburg pipe is about 50 years under ideal conditions, but has been known to fail in as little as 10 years.  It has been taken off the list of acceptable materials by most building codes.