Repipe with Copper or CPVC?

amritakaurAugust 5, 2012

You guys were so helpful when I needed advice for choosing a hot water heater, I'd like to now ask your advice for repiping my mobile home. I want to get rid of the cursed polybutylene before it springs another leak. My husband was a plumber. He had intended to replace the PB with copper, but died unexpectedly last year before he could do so.

Most of the plumbers around here use PEX, but I don't want it because we have roof rats around here and they'll chew it up. I just found a BIG mummified roof rat in a pile of insulation next to a water pipe in the crawlspace under the house. I don't know how it got in through the skirting, but if I'd had PEX it would have chewed right through it. I don't want to lie awake at night wondering if a rat is eating my plumbing.

That leaves copper or CPVC.

Copper would be my first choice (it does well here), but the cost is a financial hardship. Not impossible, but very hard.

Two plumbers have told me that Flowguard Gold CPVC is reliable, if installed correctly. One of them is my brother in NM. All the other local plumbers I've called have disagreed, saying CPVC is garbage that will soon crack and leak. They say Phoenix is too hot and dry for CPVC. But if that's the case, how can CPVC be rated for 180+ degrees?

Whether copper or CPVC, we'll use pipe insulation. I'm also going to replace the insulation batts and bellyboard in the crawlspace after the repipe. Freezing will not be a problem.

Are the local plumbers telling me the truth about CPVC, or are they just trying to steer me towards PEX because it's easier for them?

Would any of you feel comfortable using Flowguard Gold under these circumstances, or is copper my only safe choice?

Thanks for your help.

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alan_s_thefirst

Follow your gut and do what you can to get copper. Copper is tried and tested, and there have been a number of failures after the fact, as per your poly.

I don't know much about the cpvc (I think here in Canada, it's used in irrigation systems. All plastics become brittle and deteriorate over time, and they give off stuff you don't want to drink.

Copper can be good for hundreds of years...yes, copper gives off stuff too but you let the water run, and what traces you get are probably beneficial...we do need a little copper in our diet.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 1:15AM
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amritakaur

Thanks, alan. I do worry about plastic chemicals leaching into water. The office where I work recently put in PEX during a remodel. We couldn't figure out why the water was suddenly so nasty even through the filter. It was like that for weeks. I looked under the cabinet and saw PEX tubing. PEX leaches MTBE among other things. CPVC probably puts stuff into the water, too.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I've had CPVC plumbing for 20 years with zero issues. It replaced 15 year old copper pipes that had all kinds of issues with pinhole leaks. Copper is NOT always the best choice for a situation. It is without a doubt the most expensive choice. That doesn't make it automatically "better" though.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:12PM
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amritakaur

Thank you, hollysprings. This is comforting to know in case I can't afford the copper.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:37PM
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justalurker

hollysprings doesn't live in Phoenix and doesn't have the nasty Phoenix water or the high temps you have.

Lots of homes in Phoenix are re-piped often and if you can afford it copper is the choice.

Premature failure of copper pipe is almost always poor quality pipe, or the wrong specification of copper pipe, or a result of the water conditions not being correctly treated.

Every new tech fantastic plastic plumbing solution for the past 40 years seems to end up as a class action lawsuit down the road.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 10:10PM
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amritakaur

"Premature failure of copper pipe is almost always poor quality pipe, or the wrong specification of copper pipe, or a result of the water conditions not being correctly treated."

Which thickness of copper is recommended? M or L?

"Every new tech fantastic plastic plumbing solution for the past 40 years seems to end up as a class action lawsuit down the road."

It does seem that way. All the plumbers telling me that PEX has been used successfully in Europe for decades fail to mention that Europe doesn't chlorinate their water. PEX is degraded by chlorine. I want to see how it looks here in forty years.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 10:58PM
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justalurker

I'm not a plumber, don't play one on TV, amd didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night so I'd be talking to knowledgeable plumbers regarding the proper specs for copper in residential applications and see if there are any particular considerations for Phoenix.

I have friends down there and the only thing your water does right is that it's wet. Tastes lousy and really needs some serious water treatment.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 12:18AM
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amritakaur

Talking to plumbers is good advice, but my problem is that most of them just want to sell me PEX, and that seems to be the extent of their knowledge.

I tell them I can't use PEX (you should have SEEN that dead roof rat under my house!), they give me a blank stare, and a minute later they're singing the praises of PEX again. I get the feeling they don't know how to do anything else.

The good news is that our water pH is good for copper: 6.48 - 7.72. The water is very hard- 17.1 on average. But when I drained my seven year-old water heater that was rated for six years, the water flowed out clear- no sediment buildup.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 12:41AM
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justalurker

pH is right on but you need a correctly sized softener.

You might consider annual maintenance on your WH instead of every seven years ;)

Talk to the plumbers on this forum. Throw up a post for lazypup and see what he has to say.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 1:28AM
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