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By: Jonathan Simon on December 17th, 2019

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PEX  |  re-piping  |  CPVC

Few things are as frustrating for homeowners as persistent plumbing problems. Small leaks not only compromise the integrity of the pipes, they create water damage that can breed mold and lead to a total failure. Fix one problem and another pops up somewhere else.

Consider the experience of Rick and Janine Jackson in Battle Ground, Washington. The first PEX piping leak that appeared in their 10-year old home was under the dishwasher. The resulting water damage required renovations to the kitchen and basement. Then, a second leak was discovered. And a third. Eventually, “at wit’s end” they made the decision to re-pipe the entire home, replacing the existing PEX piping with FlowGuard Gold® CPVC.

The PEX piping that was pulled out of the home was analyzed and found to have widespread structural issues caused by chlorine degradation. If the Jacksons hadn’t re-piped the home when they did, they would have found themselves in a continual cycle of leaks and repairs.

Recognizing the Problem

Copper, polybutylene and PEX piping can suffer from persistent degradation under certain conditions because of incompatibility between the pipes and the chlorine used in water treatment processes. Over time, this degradation can lead at first to small leaks and eventually to a total failure of the pipe.

Considering that, it shouldn’t be surprising that these materials have been the subject of multiple class action lawsuits. For example, widespread failures of PEX 1006 piping from NIBCO recently resulted in a large settlement against the manufacturer.

If the PEX, copper or polybutylene piping materials in your home have been the subject of a successful class action suit, the plumbing problems you’re experiencing may be the result of inherent incompatibility between the piping material and local water conditions.

There are also early warning signs of chlorine degradation that you can look for. In PEX piping, chlorine degradation first appears as subtle, spotty discoloration on the outside surface of the pipe, which is known as the “popcorn” effect. Copper piping also may show signs of localized discoloration in the early stages of corrosion.

Jackson chlorine degradation

Hot water PEX piping installed in the Jackson home revealed chlorine degradation

If you suspect you may have plumbing problems resulting from incompatibility between your piping materials and water conditions, it may be necessary to re-pipe the home to prevent failures within the system.

Re-Piping with FlowGuard Gold CPVC

Homes originally fitted for PEX or copper piping can typically be re-piped with FlowGuard Gold CPVC without significant structural work. FlowGuard Gold CPVC is impervious to all forms of chlorine and is the only plumbing system on the market with a warranty that specifically applies regardless of the water treatment method.

Not only are FlowGuard Gold pipes and fittings resistant to chlorine, they are virtually impermeable, have a lower biofilm formation potential than PEX piping and have a minimal impact on water quality.

With these benefits you would expect CPVC to cost more than PEX, but it is actually less expensive in both cost-per-foot and time to install. Third-party research conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), found that CPVC installs about 15% faster than PEX in its most common configuration.

CPVC requires no special tools for joining, making it easier to install in tight places plumbers may encounter in a re-pipe situation. It is also flexible enough to snake through walls, but rigid enough that it won’t coil up inside the wall. The simple solvent welding process used in CPVC pipes results in a joint that is actually stronger than the pipe or fitting alone.

PEX, on the other hand, requires expensive expansion or crimping tools for installation. Plus, PEX fittings, including the body and crimp rings, typically cost several times more than comparable CPVC fittings, and take two to three times longer to properly assemble. Even when properly assembled, they can result in joints that have been the subject of several high-profile failures. Finally, with PEX, there is no guarantee chlorine-induced degradation won’t re-occur with the new pipes.

We hope no homeowner is in the position to ever have to re-pipe their home, but this drastic step is sometimes necessary if installed piping has demonstrated the inability to handle local water conditions. Making the switch to FlowGuard Gold CPVC can reduce re-piping costs, simplify installation and ensures a reliable plumbing system that delivers the highest possible water quality.

Download Making the Switch to FlowGuard Gold CPVC brochure now