What Types of Plumbing (PVC, PEX, Metal Pipe) Are Safe for Potable Water?
Consumers may question whether a type of pipe is safe for potable drinking water for a variety of reasons.
Plumbing Pipe Health Concerns
Consumers may be concerned about the safety of the water they drink and the potential health risks associated with using pipes that are not safe for potable water. Just look at how things happen in places like Flint Michigan.
Plumbing Pipe Quality Concerns
Consumers may be concerned about the quality of the water they drink and the potential for pipes to affect the taste or odor of the water. Many times, In fact, people will mistake pipe quality with water quality.
Plumbing Pipe Age
In some cases, consumers may be concerned about the age of the pipes in their homes or business, as older pipes may be more prone to corrosion or other problems that could affect the safety of the water supply.
The example of old galvanized pipes is a prime example of hard water corroding and junking up the pipe while lessening water pressure over time.
Lack of Information
Consumers may not have access to information about the type of pipes in their home or business, or they may be unsure about how to determine if the pipes are safe for potable water.
This is where a quick call to a plumbing shop can point you, the DIY person, in the right direction for free.
It is important for consumers to be aware of the safety of the pipes in their home or business, as using pipes that are not safe for potable water can pose a serious health risk.
If you are concerned about the safety of the pipes in your home or business, it is a good idea to consult with a local professional plumber or your local water utility for more information. They can help you determine the type of pipes in your home or business and provide guidance on any necessary repairs or replacements.
Keep this in mind when buying a home. Home inspectors are often not licensed in a trade, so you can't expect them to catch everything. Heck, nobody catches everything.
Why Types of Pipes Are Safe for Drinking Water?
PVC, PEX, and metal pipes are all commonly used for the conveyance of potable drinking water, and they are all considered safe for this purpose.
In this article, we will delve into the details of why these materials are safe for potable water, as well as the factors that can potentially affect the safety of the water supply.
The Safety of the Water Supply
is important for a number of reasons. Safe drinking water is essential for maintaining good health and preventing the spread of waterborne diseases. Contaminated water can contain a variety of harmful substances, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals, which can cause serious illness or even death if ingested.
Access to safe drinking water is also important for maintaining good hygiene (and we all need that) and preventing the spread of disease. Water is used for a variety of purposes, including washing hands, cooking, and cleaning, and it is important to ensure that the water used for these purposes is safe and free from contaminants.
In addition to the health impacts, the safety of the water supply is also important for economic and environmental reasons. Contaminated water can damage infrastructure and reduce the effectiveness of industrial processes, which can have a negative impact on the economy.
It can also harm the environment, as contaminated water can pollute rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water and harm the plants and animals that live there.
Let's break in here for a second and talk ice. Besgroups.com said in a February 04, 2021 article that "in China in 2013, ice cubes at fast-food chains were found to be riddled with 13 times more bacteria than toilet water.
And in Hong Kong in 2017, edible ice samples collected under the routine Food Surveillance Program of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) were found to contain excessive coliform bacteria, organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans."
Now granted we live in the United States, but I think you get the point that proper piping most definitely aids the course of clean water (or ice).
Overall, the safety of the water supply is essential for maintaining good health, preventing the spread of disease, and protecting the environment and economy. It is important to ensure that the water supply is properly treated and maintained to ensure that it is safe for consumption and other purposes.
The Pipe Itself
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is a popular choice for water supply lines in residential and commercial buildings because they are strong, durable, and resistant to corrosion. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to work with, which makes them a practical choice for many plumbing applications.
PVC pipe is made from a synthetic plastic polymer that is derived from petroleum. The material is mixed with various additives to improve its strength, flexibility, and other physical properties. The finished product is a hard, rigid material that is resistant to water, chemicals, and UV radiation.
PVC pipe is safe for potable water because they are made from non-toxic materials and do not leach any harmful chemicals into the water supply.
In addition, PVC pipes are treated with a chlorine solution during the manufacturing process to kill any bacteria or other contaminants that may be present. This ensures that the pipes are safe for the transportation of drinking water.
A note about PVC pipe. It does well in warmer temps but can become brittle in colder temps. It can, over time, age, become brittle, and need replacement. So just be sure it's insulated well and be aware of any unusual moisture in or around fixtures you have PVC attached to.
PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipe is another popular choice for water supply lines in residential and commercial buildings. Like PVC pipes, they are made from a synthetic plastic polymer, but the manufacturing process is slightly different.
PEX pipes are created by cross-linking the polymer molecules, which improves the material's strength, flexibility, and resistance to water, chemicals, and UV radiation. They also hold up well in freezing conditions. Notice I didn't say they were "Freeze Proof." Just that they hold up well.
PEX pipe is safe for potable water because they are made from non-toxic materials and do not leach any harmful chemicals into the water supply. They are also resistant to corrosion, which means they are less likely to leach metal ions into the water supply.
In addition, PEX pipes are treated with a chlorine solution during the manufacturing process to kill any bacteria or other contaminants that may be present.
Metal pipe, such as copper and galvanized steel, is also commonly used for water supply lines in residential and commercial buildings. Copper pipes are highly durable and resistant to corrosion, which makes them a popular choice for plumbing systems.
Copper pipes are also relatively easy to work with, which makes them a practical choice for many plumbing applications.
A note on copper. Since PEX has become so popular a lot of plumbing shops and suppliers will downplay the effectiveness of copper. Going so far as to suggest that you replace copper with PEX.
18 years of experience have shown me that copper, while it doesn't hold up as well to freeze (it will burst), is just as durable as PEX and looks more professional on the wall.
Anywhere I have something like a backflow or pressure reducing valve, I will put copper on to help support the equipment. It's just stronger and more rigid in such cases than its counterpart PEX.
Galvanized steel pipe is also a popular choice for water supply lines, particularly in older buildings. They are made from a steel core that is coated with a layer of zinc to protect the metal from corrosion. However, galvanized steel pipes are not as durable as copper pipes and are more prone to corrosion over time.
Metal pipe is generally considered safe for potable water because they do not leach any harmful chemicals into the water supply. However, metal pipes can potentially leach small amounts of metal ions into the water supply, but the levels are typically low and not considered harmful to human health.
It's important to note that all types of pipe should be properly installed and maintained to ensure the safety of the potable water supply. This includes using proper fittings and seals and avoiding damage to the pipes during installation and use.
Pipes that are damaged or poorly installed can potentially leak contaminants into the water supply, which can pose a health risk to the people using the water.
In conclusion, PVC, PEX, and metal pipes are all considered safe for the conveyance of potable water because they are non-toxic and do not leach any harmful chemicals into the water supply.
However, it is important to properly install and maintain these pipes to ensure the safety and quality of the water.
But if we are going to look at what's good to use we should probably touch on what not to use as well.
There are a few types of pipes that are not safe for the conveyance of potable drinking water. These include:
Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can leach into the water supply, causing serious health problems. Lead pipes were commonly used in the past, but they have been largely replaced with safer materials due to the health risks associated with lead.
If your home or business has lead pipes, it is important to have them replaced as soon as possible to ensure the safety of your water supply.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once used in a variety of building materials, including pipes. Asbestos pipes or asbestos covered pipes are no longer in use, but they may still be present in some older homes and buildings.
Asbestos can release fibers into the air when it is disturbed, which can cause serious health problems if inhaled. If your home or business has asbestos pipes or asbestos covered pipes, it is important to have them removed by a trained professional to ensure the safety of your water supply.
Polybutylene pipe is a type of plastic piping that was commonly used in residential plumbing systems in the 1970s and 1980s. These pipes are prone to breaking and can cause serious water damage if they fail.
If your home or business has polybutylene pipes, it is important to have them replaced as soon as possible to ensure the safety of your water supply.
There are certain materials that are not approved for use in plumbing systems due to their potential to contaminate the water supply.
These materials include rubber hoses, garden hoses, and plastic toys, which can leach harmful chemicals into the water supply. It is important to avoid using these materials in your plumbing system to ensure the safety of your water supply.
In conclusion, there are a few types of pipes that are not safe for the conveyance of potable water.
These include lead pipes, asbestos pipes, polybutylene pipes, and unapproved materials. If your home or business has any of these types of pipes, it is important to have them replaced or removed as soon as possible to ensure the safety of your water supply.
It is also important to regularly maintain and inspect your plumbing system to identify any potential problems and address them before they become serious issues.
So all in all you see that on one hand, you should be concerned about what type of pipe is in your home, and on the other odds are your pipes are safe due to the amount of work manufacturers have put in to make them so.
So rest easy. Your family is safe.