March 18, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 31 (ARA) - If you haven’t built a new home or taken on a major bathroom or kitchen remodeling project in recent years, you might not be aware that today’s plumbing options are very different than they once were. Although traditional copper piping still exists, skyrocketing prices, combined with increased concerns of corrosion, pitting, and scaling -- all of which can significantly shorten the life of the system and cause significant property damage -- have created greater demand for newer technologies. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, high-performance plastic piping, in both the form of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) and cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), now dominates the residential new construction market, and for good reason. Reliability. Unlike copper, neither CPVC nor PEX will pit or corrode, regardless of the pH level of the water. Long-term performance. Also unlike copper, neither CPVC nor PEX are subject to scale buildup, which means water flow remains consistent throughout the life of the system. Cost. Plastic is not nearly as susceptible to the pricing fluctuations caused by the world supply and demand for metals such as copper. Ease of installation. CPVC piping is installed quickly and easily with a reliable, one-step solvent cement joining system. In fact, a solvent cement joint is stronger than the pipe or fitting alone. A PEX system, by comparison, uses a crimped joint which, even though it’s somewhat more challenging than solvent cement, is still less cumbersome than the soldered joint of a copper system. Quiet operation. Both water flow noise and water hammer are magnified in metallic systems. Third-party testing has proven that a FlowGuard Gold CPVC plumbing Home Improvement & Gardening It’s time to rethink your plumbing options system is four times quieter than copper. Energy efficiency. The natural thermal properties of plastic help maintain water temperature within the pipe, keeping hot water hotter and cold water colder than copper does. This not only makes the systems more energy efficient, but also reduces condensation. Track record. This is a critical area in which CPVC and PEX differ. The first CPVC plumbing application was commercialized in 1959 by BFGoodrich (now Lubrizol Advanced Materials, Inc., maker of FlowGuard Gold CPVC). Since then, CPVC piping has been successfully used in water distribution, fire sprinkler and industrial applications. PEX is a relative newcomer to the North American plumbing market, despite the fact that it has been used successfully in Europe for decades. What makes the domestic experience for CPVC more meaningful is the fact that the U.S. uses a higher concentration of chlorine and other disinfectants than any other country. These same disinfectants have been shown to potentially cause stress cracking in some PEX samples. Environmental attributes. With more home buyers and home builders focused on the environment, it’s important to note that CPVC and PEX both offer a number of environmental advantages over traditional copper piping. Because it is lighter in weight, plastic piping requires less energy to transport to the job site. With no corrosion or scale build-up, the interior surface of plastic pipe remains smooth to offer superior hydraulics and require less energy to effectively convey water. In addition, CPVC requires far less process energy to melt and shape during the manufacturing process than other piping materials. Taste and smell of water. Advocates of plastic plumbing pipe have long hailed the product’s ability to maintain water quality. That is to say that neither CPVC nor PEX will leach potentially harmful copper into the water supply. However, Spring a recent sensory impact study conducted by The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of Virginia Tech further documented the superiority of CPVC, in particular, as it related to water taste and smell. A trained panel using Flavor Profile Analysis to assess odors and tastes of water in contact with various piping materials, found CPVC clearly outperformed the other materials in the test. Easy transition. If you are remodeling or adding a bathroom or laundry room and your current copper piping is still intact, the good news is that transition fittings are available to allow fast, inexpensive transitions from existing copper pipe to CPVC or PEX. 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