Until the late 1980's, copper water piping was the dominant piping used to convey hot and cold water in homes. Copper water piping had been used due to its longevity and durability and was the time tested and proven method of distributing water in new home construction and commercial plumbing projects.
This changed in the late 1970's and early 1980's when Poly-B (Polybutylene) piping, the gray plastic water piping, entered the scene. Those plumbing contractors that had been using copper piping previously and were willing to switch over to the new Poly-B piping could provide cheaper pricing to the home building companies because of the cost savings associated with the new plastic water piping. Plastic water piping eliminates many of the turns and joints commonly found in copper water systems, is less expensive to purchase per linear foot, and is quicker to install.
Poly-B plastic piping was eventually removed from the market after homeowners began experiencing numerous leaking issues with the piping and fittings and court cases are pending in the United States and Canada. In my client's homes, I tend to find that copper and brass fittings were used more frequently to join the Poly-B plastic piping together than were the cheaper plastic fittings. However, some plumbing contractors in their desire to save money did use plastic fittings to join the Poly B plastic piping together in areas such as Barrhaven and Kanata and I have seen some plumbing joints fail when the crimp rings have loosened (crimp rings hold the piping onto the fittings and failure of these joints may be caused by the original plumber not calibrating his joining tool correctly and not ensuring the accuracy of his joints after crimping them).
Today, plumbing contractors use a cross-linked PEX plastic pipe which is much stronger and can tolerate much higher temperatures than previously manufactured plastic piping. The walls of the tubing are much thicker and the fittings used today withstand the effects of chlorine much better.
Homeowners with plastic water piping will begin to experience the pin hole leaks and joint failures sooner than the 80 years that they would have experienced with copper water piping. The manufacturers of plastic piping inform us that a homeowner should be able to achieve approximately 40 years from their product and this is one thing to consider when making a house purchase in the next 10 years.
If you have plastic water piping in your home and you have not experienced any leaking, then I would recommend that you not worry about it. If you should start to experience leakages from the water piping in the future, it may be best to replace all the plastic piping in your home instead of doing ongoing multiple repairs. Call Safari Plumbing for more information!
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