Copper, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) are the most frequently used materials for residential plumbing. Each material has its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Determining that is the safest type of plumbing is dependent upon individual preferences and concerns.
Most contractors and homeowners pick copper over most other kinds of plumbing, although rising costs and the ease of installation of other materials eventually may supplant this metal. Where water is slightly acidic — a pH of 6.5 or less — copper may leach from pipes and into drinking water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a maximum contaminant level goal of 1.3 milligrams per liter, or 1.3 parts per million of copper in drinking water. The EPA expresses concern that some people who consume water using copper in excess of this aim may endure gastrointestinal ailments. Furthermore, before EPA regulations put in 1986, copper pipes may have been combined with lead-based solder. But copper piping joined with lead-free solder and utilized in less-acidic water has a good history of safe usage.
Vinyl chloride and organotin chemicals used in fabricating PVC are dangerous substances, with plastic substrate known as carcinogenic. Organotins are metallic chemicals utilized to stabilize PVC and help it withstand degradation from heat. These substances typically stay locked within the material and pose little threat to individuals. But they could leach into drinking water in some cases. The solvents used to wash PVC, and the glue used to bond sections of pipe together contain strong solvents.
Builders like PEX tubing for its simplicity of installation and the need for several joints. PEX also has an edge over copper pipe in it’s a lot more immune to acidic water. One big disadvantage is that exposure to sunlight, even for periods as short as one week, lessens the material’s capability to resist chlorine. Not so much is known about whether this plastic leaches chemicals into drinking water.
Even when the home has copper, PVC or PEX, that doesn’t mean the city providing water to the home uses exactly the exact same material. Many towns replaced aging pipes using PVC, and several still rely on older distribution systems that may have been combined with lead-based solder before it was outlawed. Most regulations regarding copper, vinyl chloride and guide simply pertain to new products, repairs and new construction, but do not need communities to make wholesale changes to existing systems. You may choose to find out what type of material your water provider uses, and what strategies are in place to change to other materials in the future.