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PVC for Potable Water?

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  • PVC for Potable Water?

    A neighbor lady called me in a panic with a busted water pipe. I found that some 20 years ago, her husband (recently deceased) ran about 150' of 1" PVC to reroute the supply line from the original service entrance at one end of the house, around to the garage at the other end, where he was installing a water softener.

    Twenty years later, this PVC is so brittle at the joints that a hard look will break it. The way the joints were breaking as I dug up a section to repair it, I've gotta think that it's a giant failure waiting to happen. Is PVC approved for an installation like this? Or does this need to be copper (this is in California)?

    Follow-up question -- Is the jury still out on PEX (and PEX-related products)? With 20 years of landscaping in the way, it will be difficult to run a new line along the route of the existing, and it would be an even bigger PITA to try to route and sweat 100' of copper through the low attic of this rambling ranch house (thus the circumnavigation with the PVC). But she's having the place reroofed soon, and while the shingles are stripped off, it would be a snap to reach into the attic from outside and run PEX from one end to the other.

  • #2
    Re: PVC for Potable Water?

    Originally posted by JeffeVerde View Post
    A neighbor lady called me in a panic with a busted water pipe. I found that some 20 years ago, her husband (recently deceased) ran about 150' of 1" PVC to reroute the supply line from the original service entrance at one end of the house, around to the garage at the other end, where he was installing a water softener.

    Twenty years later, this PVC is so brittle at the joints that a hard look will break it. The way the joints were breaking as I dug up a section to repair it, I've gotta think that it's a giant failure waiting to happen. Is PVC approved for an installation like this? Or does this need to be copper (this is in California)?

    Follow-up question -- Is the jury still out on PEX (and PEX-related products)? With 20 years of landscaping in the way, it will be difficult to run a new line along the route of the existing, and it would be an even bigger PITA to try to route and sweat 100' of copper through the low attic of this rambling ranch house (thus the circumnavigation with the PVC). But she's having the place reroofed soon, and while the shingles are stripped off, it would be a snap to reach into the attic from outside and run PEX from one end to the other.
    PVC is and has been for a long time, California legal to install as a water service. The only thing you need to watch out for with plastic, is it has to be 18" deep and you have to make sure you still have an electrical ground. PEX is now legal in California but if you have any fittings underground they have to be Bronze not Brass.

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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    • #3
      Re: PVC for Potable Water?

      If it was sch 40 pvc it would have still been there...

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      • #4
        Re: PVC for Potable Water?

        could it be cpvc? I agree w/ delcase, pvc sch 40 should have been fine.

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        • #5
          Re: PVC for Potable Water?

          I got the impression this was an exposed above ground run, and the sun would do the PVC in.

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          • #6
            Re: PVC for Potable Water?

            Twenty years later, this PVC is so brittle at the joints that a hard look will break it. The way the joints were breaking as I dug up a section to repair it, I've gotta think that it's a giant failure waiting to happen. Is PVC approved for an installation like this?


            It had to be thin wall pvc...
            that wasn't that good when they put it in

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            • #7
              Re: PVC for Potable Water?

              Around here PVC Sch40 is legal underground for water service, but you have to use Sch80 fittings. I guess there have been issues with elbows breaking over time, but in 20 years, I haven't seen any failures on fittings. PEX underground is OK, but I don't think any fittings are allowed, although I am not sure. I just know I wouldn't join any pipe underground unless the fitting was approved to do so.

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              • #8
                Re: PVC for Potable Water?

                Originally posted by JeffeVerde View Post
                But she's having the place reroofed soon, and while the shingles are stripped off, it would be a snap to reach into the attic from outside and run PEX from one end to the other.
                For whom would it " be a snap to reach into the attic from outside and run PEX from one end to the other?
                For a licensed plumber? A roofer? Or perhaps a carpenter?

                Just curious.

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                • #9
                  Re: PVC for Potable Water?

                  You may also be able to roll out a length of soft copper, your plumber will be the best person to coach you on this. regardless, some thick insulation on whatever you choose will help.

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                  • #10
                    Re: PVC for Potable Water?

                    Thanks for the replies. To answer your questions-

                    -No, it's not thin wall
                    -Yes, it is sch40
                    -No, it's not above ground (but this stretch was only 6-8" deep, which is how it came to be broken)

                    While I was digging it up and repairing it, I had two couplings break in half, and two places where the pipe broke right at a coupling. So I assume the cement must have continued to break down the PVC over time.

                    -"Easy for who?" - Certainly a carpenter (I wouldn't trust a roofer ), and I would think that most plumbers could handle walking on the 1-story 3/12 roof. But even a plumber with acrophbia could reach into this low roof, standing on a 3' step-stool

                    It seems like most of the opinions on PEX I've seen in this forum run along the lines of "I"ll use PEX the day they pry my torch from my cold, dead hands". But from the replies here, I take it that PEX is an acceptable and reliable piping. I'll tell my neighbor to talk to a plumber when it comes time to re-roof.
                    Last edited by JeffeVerde; 09-17-2009, 06:41 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: PVC for Potable Water?

                      I've got Miles of sch 40 pvc water services in place and functional. Your water conditions may require something different.
                      No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

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