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Most of the time drains clog or supply pipes leak, freeze or burst requiring repair or maintenance. Your water supply pipes may have problems that limit water pressure, impacting everything from the quality of your shower to the reach of your lawn sprinkler. Behind your walls and beneath your floors there is an intricate network of water supply lines, drains and vents that make up your residential plumbing system.
Types of pipes used in plumbing and drain system.
Copper pipe is ideal for 1/2 inch and 1 inch water supply lines leading from the main water supply pipe to household sinks and toilets. Copper is popular with plumbing contractors because it is clean, doesn't rust and is very reliable for both hot and cold water delivery. Copper pipes provide trouble-free service for decades. Copper pipes will freeze and burst if left exposed to the elements. This is only a problem if the pipes run through the outer walls of your home so be sure those walls contain plenty of insulation.
PEX tubing looks something like a garden hose but it's much stronger and more reliable. Its flexibility and strength make it as reliable as copper but easier for plumbers to work with. PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene and it is being used increasingly for water supply lines as a low cost alternative to copper piping. Developed in the 1960s, PEX has been used in Europe for decades but was only introduced to the U.S. in the 1980s. No material is freeze-proof but PEX is freeze- resistant and can expand and contract if the water inside freezes.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) pipe is the most common material used today for household drainpipes and vents. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and is durable and reliable. It is finding renewed acceptance as a copper substitute in pressurized water supply lines. It has long been popular for drainage and sewage piping. PVC pipe is inexpensive and popular with plumbing contractors because its joints fit tightly together to resists root intrusion and it is easy to repair. It can be quickly glued together to provide decades of trouble-free service.
Orangeburg also known as fiber conduit pipe, was a tarpaper-like material used for sewer lines from the 1860s through the 1970s. It became common again during World War II when iron and other materials were diverted to the war effort. Orangeburg pipe is very susceptible to root intrusion and has fallen out of favor with building code writers.
Cast Iron pipes are tough and reliable. Today they are more commonly found in commercial and municipal applications than in residential plumbing. However, iron pipes can be found in older homes. Cast iron resists corrosion and can last 100 years or more under ideal conditions. Plumbers work with cast iron drainage pipes, water supply lines and natural gas lines.
Lead pipes have fallen out of favor today due to the danger of lead-related illnesses and health problems. Lead was the most common type of pipe for centuries because it was easy to work with. The word "plumbing" actually is derived from the Latin word for lead, "plum bum." If you have lead water supply lines, your water should be tested to determine the exposure level of your home. Mr. Drain Plumber recommends replacing lead pipes with safer materials. At the very least, you should always run the tap for two or three minutes after it feels cold before drinking it or cooking with it.
Galvanized steel pipes have also fallen out of favor in new construction. After years of use, minerals from water react with the galvanizing material to cause scale build up inside the pipe. This will eventually narrow the diameter of the pipe resulting in lower water pressure and reduced volume.
Gas Lines which are mostly black iron pipe have also fallen out of favor in new construction. After years of use, the gas starts leaking from the threaded joints and connections. Another reason is the pipe top the thread paste starts drying out and results in gas leak.
A foundation drain tile system has four main components. The drain tile (pipe), the filtermedia (gravel), the gravel cover, and the water outlet. All of these elements must be installed for the system to function properly. The drain tile or pipe is usually 4" in diameter and is perforated or has pre-drilled holes along its length. Fittings are available to allow you to go around corners or interconnect the pipe.
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