Many things can affect the quality of water you are receiving in your home, from the treatment processes used by your water utility service provider to the material used to make said pipes. Professional plumbers say that the right piping material can spell the difference between clean water and compromised water. Let’s look at the most common types of pipes found in American homes and how the material used could affect water quality.
Given copper’s versatile, durable, and strong properties, contractors used copper piping in residential constructions for close to eight decades. Furthermore, copper’s impermeable nature keeps external contaminants away from drinking water and its interior restrains bacteria growth and biofilm formation. The only drawback to this type of pipe material is that copper can leach from the pipe to your drinking water if the water flowing through it is acidic.
CPVC, which stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, is one of the least expensive piping options. Contractors have been using this type of pipe since the 1950s. CPVC, like copper, resists biofilm formation, although some studies show that it resists biofilm much better when compared to other piping materials. When CPVC leaches into household water, however, it runs the risk of potentially introducing harmful chemicals such as methyl ethyl ketone, chloroform, and acetone into the home’s water supply.
Galvanized pipes use steel coated with zinc as a shield against corrosion. As steel is durable, you can expect these pipes to last a long time. They may release traces of zinc and iron when the compounds leach but health experts do not generally see them as health risks.
Homes constructed between 1978 and 1995 may have pipes that contain polybutylene (PB). When chlorinated water flows into these pipes, the inside surface may grow brittle and flake. This results in drinking water having a strange taste and/or a cloudy appearance. Furthermore, unlike other pipes, PB pipes break down from the inside out. Thus, they may be on the verge of failing despite having a durable external appearance.
The water quality in your home is dependent on the pipes you have installed. When you believe that your pipes are affecting the household water quality, do not hesitate to contact a plumbing professional for advice.