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Community and Q&A

What is the greenest and best material to use for indoor plumbing?

J FARNOCCHIA | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I read that PEX and copper are not the best. Then if PVC is used to bring city water to my home, does that contribute to any chemical leakage? Should I make my plumbing out of natural materials?

What is the best and for how long will it last?

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Replies

  1. Nate G | | #1

    The best would probably be ductile iron piping. It'll probably last 1,000 years, and the water will be carried along a chemically inert interior concrete liner.

    Of course unless you are a millionaire and planning to build a castle or a municipal structure, using ductile iron pipe domestically probably isn't realistic. PEX and copper are both fine, health-wise. Copper has the disadvantage that hot water may leach lead from any solder joints and fixtures that have lead in them, and PEX has the disadvantage that it may (not firmly established) leach chemicals from the plastic. In terms of longevity, PEX will probably last forever as long as it's out of direct sunlight. Copper will probably last forever as long as the water in it isn't allowed to freeze.

    Pick your poison. Realistically, you should worry more about being killed by just about anything else besides the material used in your plumbing system. They'll both be fine, but PEX generally gets the nod because it's cheaper and better facilitates plumbing best-practices (e.g. not using a million elbows everywhere).

  2. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    J. Farnocchia,
    Either PEX or copper will work well, and either material will last for many decades. Neither material is associated with any health problems.

    This issue has been discussed many times on GBA. If you want more information on the topic, you can read the following articles and Q&A threads:

    How Safe is PEX Tubing?

    PEX vs Copper

    Water supply - PEX?

  3. Richard Beyer | | #3

    Personally I would suggest COPPER. It's tried, proven and there's no risk of lead contamination within the new blends of solder. There's numerous articles and controversy over plastics in plumbing, health problems and birth defects associated with their use. Our building environment has become saturated with chemicals made into modern conveniences. What's safe is in the eye of the profiteer.

    Here are some good reads..

    PVC... http://www.epa.gov/ttnatw01/hlthef/vinylchl.html

    Flame Retardants... http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es502227h

    Public comment "TRA Environmental Sciences" over plastics in plumbing California.. http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/bsc/pex/exhibit_a_reid_pex.pdf

    BPA... http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/newscience/oncompounds/bisphenola/bpauses.htm and http://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Bisphenol-A.htm

    Article published by the CDC... http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha09.htm

  4. Malcolm Taylor | | #4

    If you are thinking of using copper you might want to find out if buildings using the same water source experience pin hole leaks due to the presence of minerals.

  5. Richard Beyer | | #5

    Good point Malcolm. That's what water filters are for even though I personally have never heard of this before, even with all the wells around me. Not to say it never happens. I have heard of this in area's where there are high acid level's in the tested water. It also happens where copper piping is in direct contact with concrete.

  6. Malcolm Taylor | | #6

    Richard, It seems to be a bit of of a mystery as to exactly what all the possible causes are. Not that using pex would necessarily eliminate the problem as most pex systems use some copper fittings or stub outs, and many codes mandate pex not be used outside of the wall for things like water heater supply lines. Just another annoying problem to think about.

  7. Peter L | | #7

    Malcolm,

    You bring up a great point. The building I work in has a plumbing leak every week caused by pinhole leaks in the copper plumbing caused by the hard water and calcification caused by the reaction to copper. The damage and costs caused by these pinhole leaks is leading to thousands of dollars. The joints are especially prone to pinhole leaks.

    You have better odds of being killed in a car accident , cancer, etc. than you do by PVC or PEX plumbing. Don't over think it and just stick with PVC and PEX.

  8. Richard Beyer | | #8

    Interesting analogy Peter. Your analogy from your experience is easily corrected with a professionally installed water filtration system. Clearly your example is not in relation to a copper pipe failure as it is a water purification issue. Maybe the reasonable cause is acidic water or high mineral concentrations?
    The same failure could occur at every connection point with plastic piping since these fittings to are copper, brass or both.

    Your risk of plastic poisoning from leaching plasticizers and other toxic chemicals do lead to cancer as many studies have shown with many older forms of plastic pipes and water bottles, old and newer versions. It's a matter of proving the pipe or bottles caused the cancer. There's your challenge.

    JM sold defective plastic pipe to numerous government agencies as shown here for public water supplies...

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/jury-finds-pipe-maker-defrauded-governments/?_r=0

    The list goes on with water contamination due to plastics and it does not necessarily have to be installed in your home...
    PVC has shown it to causes environmental harm and if water is left stagnant in the pipe, chemicals have been found to leach into the water supply. Automatic flushers are the modern solution to minimize risk while wasting natural resources.

    Below are several links associated with plastic water piping and risks of cancer among other issues.

    http://chej.org/2013/09/pvc-pipes-bringing-toxic-lead-to-drinking-water/
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/125022-health-risks-plastic-water-pipes/
    http://www.ask.com/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride?o=2800&qsrc=999&ad=doubleDown&an=apn&ap=ask.com
    http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=84
    http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/vinyl-chloride.cfm

    I was in a million dollar home yesterday where the homeowners experienced multiple plastic water pipe connection failures over 18 years. Their water comes from a municipal water supply. Most all of the bathroom and kitchen connection fittings have failed over the years and this has cost them thousands in plumbing, wall, ceiling and complete hardwood flooring replacement due to these phantom leaks which went unrecognized sometimes for weeks. Good thing for them they are both doctors with good salaries.

  9. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #9

    Richard,
    Your dismissal of the problem of pinhole leaks in copper tubing is not supported by the findings of researchers. This is a troublesome problem in some regions, and in spite of extensive research, the causes of the pinhole leaks is not entirely understood.

  10. Richard McGrath | | #10

    Richard . Copper tubing is not as tried and true as you seem to think . It was introduced in the 20s and gained limited acceptance by the industry in around 1932 . It started really gaining popularity as late as the 1970s , in fact 85% of copper potable water piping has been installed in the last 35 -40 years , much of that has been replaced already for various reasons . 1970s , right around the time PeX was discovered . Pex piping like all materials has been subject to more than it's fair share of fear mongering . One is no more dangerous to human beings than the other . Copper has physical flaws and shortcomings that Pex does not . I will agree with the fact that PolyVinylChloride or ChlorinatedPolyVinylChloride should not be used for potable water distribution anywhere .
    Copper suffers from many weaknesses including but not limited to fluid Ph , excess flow velocity ( the main cause of wear ) , acids required to flow solder products (flux) and the fact that lead free only means =<.25% lead contained in a product .
    Both types of piping allow a protective film build up within the tubing , what is this stuff that builds up ? Pex is routinely now used for implantation within the human body with no known problems thus far . All Pex is not created equal . Pex A is far superior than B or C and at least one manufacturer does not use UV inhibitors in their product , probably why we buy it as we need it and cannot leave it laying around in the sunlight . That same product was subjected to ongoing elevated temp and pressure testing by Studvik in Sweden and BASF in Germany for 36 years from 1973 until 2009 at 203*F and 175 PSI . Within this time there was no measurable difference in wall thickness nor any dimension . I contend that we would have run through 6 coils of copper under that stress . Pex s molecular structure is stable , inert and unaffected by chemicals commonly found in plumbing systems . I personally have replaced much more 20 year old copper than Pex , as a matter of fact every piece of Pex I have replaced , the damage or failure was due to installer error . As Martin stated above , there are many very unhospitable environments within the confines of our borders that just make copper quite frankly , unusable .

    Copper used to be used for medical devices used internally ( IUDs) , any ideas why it is no longer used internally ?
    Is it really that unsafe ? http://www.whichmedicaldevice.com/by-category/3/64/302/polyethylenes

  11. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #11

    Terry,
    It's all fine and good to show off your knowledge, but it's unclear how your advice helps J. Farnocchia.

    You have explained to J. that PEX can react to toluene. Fortunately, however, most water supplies are free of toluene.

    Polyethylene (the type of plastic used to make PEX) is the material used to make milk bottles.

    You have told J. that plastics like PEX "are a hazard to the environment and not green. Metal is in the same boat." That's hardly helpful. I seriously doubt that J. wants to craft his residential plumbing system out of glass laboratory tubing.

  12. Terry Lee | | #12

    Richard M: You contradicted yourself with this statement below. If it is "inert" and "stable" it does not react with ANY other chemicals period.

    "Pex s molecular structure is stable , inert and unaffected by chemicals commonly found in plumbing systems"

    Here is a large manufacture that uses Polyethylene.

    http://jmeagle.com/products/pex/EverPEX_plastic_pipe.html
    http://jmeagle.com/pdfs/2008%20Brochures/EverPEX_web.pdf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyethylene

    You don't have to look far to see it anything but "stable and inert", and there are many grades and over a dozen classifications, and ways to manufacture it. Do you have data showing it is inert and stable with all water systems across the world? ASTM F876 only requires chlorine cross linkage test, to test the stabilizer function and resistance. These manufactures are not require to test for all chemicals found in potable water. Please include the additional reactions, stability, to copper and all its alloys, other heat treats and metallic finishes used in "plumbing systems" ?

    Here is a list of chemicals this PEX reacts to,
    Aromatic hydrocarbons such as toluene or xylene, chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethane or trichlorobenzene, at elevated temp? and other oxides and reducing agents depending on grade?

    So what PEX exactly are you referring to? Not that it matters since this product will be installed in homes making your point moot.

    Peter L: You have better odds of being killed in a car accident , cancer, etc. than you do by PVC or PEX plumbing. Don't over think it and just stick with PVC and PEX.

    People like this taint forums with erroneous information to make a pointless argument without any link to real data.

    Listen to Beyer, he has done his home work when it comes to toxins and green materials. Although plastics have great use, they come in many forms, they do not belong in our water supply, they are a hazard to the environment and not "green" ....Metal is in the same boat. We really do need a true inert chemically stable material as proven by a world class chemical lab indi test.

  13. Terry Lee | | #13

    Martin, I think Richard B already provided the best data. My last post is in question format, perhaps someone will show a "chemically inert and stable" material and potable water system. I don't have the answer, just baffles me with all the material technology, the chemist have not figured this out. I do know this, there are many forms of most material reactions, unless you are a chemist don't make unsafe analogies to something you really don't understand....there is my advice.

  14. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #14

    Terry,
    So, if you consider that both PEX tubing and metal tubing are "a hazard," what type of plumbing have you installed in your own house?

  15. Terry Lee | | #15

    My house is old metallic I don't drink the water, but I am getting ready to build innovative "green" or better "all natural, environmentally friendly" to the greatest extend possible spec homes in a new development next spring. We are working on the development and home designs now. If anyone has found a new material to be inert and stable in a potable water "system" and I don't mean a system component such as copper or pex, let me know. Otherwise, I'll probably go with copper with a proper installation. One rule of thumb I have followed based on many years of design, is stick with similar materials whenever possible. Many are not compatible with one another, unless you are a Chemist or a Material Technology Engineer that understand the differences.... I usually have one review my designs, I don't pretend to be one.

  16. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #16

    There is no "natural" anything today. Terry, you eat and drink from containers or from streams and snare rabbits with your bare hands? No canned food? No cereal in a box with a plastic liner? No Starbucks in a man made paper cup. I worked in a paper making plant, and I can tell you lots and lots of chemicals involved in the paper making world. One of my many summer jobs was to load some of the chemicals into the mixing hoppers.

    I use PEX and I use copper both. PEX is great to work with many of us use both still. If a customer wants to spec what I use, I use what they spec.

    My neighbor has a Brita water filter jug......... the jug... is plastic. The carbon filter that holds the carbon is plastic.

    Natural earth... has.... radon... nature is not always the choice. Too clean a home and you screw up a newborns immune system. We humans need contact with nature and dirt. I am so dirty everyday from construction that I am healthy as hell. LOL... really.

    Anyway who's afraid of the dark? I am... spiders and snakes... bears... and tigers and lions too... natives with poison blow darts... yup... PEX... nope.

    I too like you Terry... this post is not meant to insight a riot.
    ;)
    aj

    Just an additional FYI.... I try never to kill... would never kill a lion tiger or bear... ate a bear once... but a friend killed it... Eat meat... but am not into the killing aspect myself. Never kill spiders except if it even looks like a brown recluse. That's my breaking point. If you're a brown recluse and are reading this... I am sorry.. but please, stay your distance from me. Let's live and let live my scarey brown spider. Not a fan of beheading animals for the wall or humans for religious display purposes either.

    Now what do yaa all think of scarey water pipes?

    Happy post Halloween neighbors. Martin, i can cut this down to I like and use PEX and so far live to post here, if you would like me to edit....
    ;)

  17. Richard McGrath | | #17

    I would be more worried about having anything other than 2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen molecules in my water than debating the quality of what that garbage runs through .

  18. Richard McGrath | | #18

    To the Op . You could find some nice straight logs and auger the center like they used to do . It does not get any grenner than that . Some of those mains are still below the streets of NYC .

  19. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #19

    Richard,
    I have found augured logs in the woods near abandoned springs, leading to old cellar holes.

  20. Malcolm Taylor | | #20

    They just recently took out the last few kilometres of the wood supply lines that serve the town near me here on Vancouver Island. I am the operator of a small community water system that uses a 5000 gal cedar tank as a reservoir.

  21. Flitch Plate | | #21

    I guess everyone in your town, Malcolm, has the cedar fever. Or at least anyone who drinks water.

  22. Terry Lee | | #22

    Martin wrote: Terry, It's all fine and good to show off your knowledge, but it's unclear how your advice helps J. Farnocchia.

    It's not clear to me how the advice since my last post was helpful to the OP, I did however get a chuckle out of the wood, so I'll provide some more "helpful" info......

    PEX has a charge, it is not inert nor stable, it reacts with other materials like metals and minerals that can cause corrosion that leaches into the potable water. For those that don't know, the magnitude of the anode-cathode charge is well known and documented, some so strong the materials can be feet away and not in contact. I have read very large reports on the subject, my designs have incorporated an isolation ply of inert materials such as fiberglass. If the PEX manufacture has a double wall design, with FG(e or s) as the inner wall that extends to dissimilar materials that would be inert isolation.

    Your city has chemist and Engineers you can contact that fully understand the chemical composition of the water supply. They too understand galvanic corrosion of materials such as plastics, copper and cast iron. They design systems based on that data to your home, that are regulated by state and fed design and safe health criteria, codes based on analytically and empirical data. For example, corrosion inhibitors such as sodium nitrite or sodium molybdate can be injected into these systems to reduce the galvanic potential. However, the application of these corrosion inhibitors must be monitored closely. If the application of corrosion inhibitors increases the conductivity of the water within the system, the galvanic corrosion potential can be greatly increased.They can guide you to continuing a safe system from their system into your home.

    Good luck and be safe!

  23. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #23

    Terry,
    Please provide a link to a study (if one exists) that shows that residential PEX tubing reacts with metals or minerals to create corrosion problems in residential plumbing systems or to create toxins that affect human health. I think that you are speculating without data.

  24. Richard McGrath | | #24

    Terry,
    I admire your passion . I stand by my argument and at this time will distinguish the fact that my comments only refer to PEX-a tubing made by only 3 manufacturers in this country . What differentiates this tubing from types B & C is the fact that the crosslinking takes place during the extrusion process as opposed to after the extrusion process . Since this crosslinking takes place when the Polyethylene is in it's amorphic state (above the crystalline melting point ) the level of crosslinking achieved is uniform with few if any weak links . I will let you study how the B & C tubings are crosslinked on your own if you wish . Again , the unique molecular structure of PEX-a tubing is stable , inert and unaffected by chemicals commonly found in plumbing and heating systems . " PEX is also resistant to many other chemical-dissolving agents , making it suitable for many applications ." If you would like to make a list of chemicals that concern you and others you should , then immediately contact Uponor at 1-800-321-4739 ( US ) or 1-888-994-7726 ( Canada ) and simply ask about the chemicals on your list , they will surely furnish you with the answers you are looking for .
    Maybe if the utilities here and in other places stopped using cheap material for their distribution piping they would not have to INTRODUCE corrosion inhibitors into your drinking water , maybe they will stop putting flouride ( most is bad ) into the water too since most of us brush our teeth . As for the meager ASTM listings you pointed out before i add the following approvals :
    ANSI/NSF 14 and 61 certified
    Council of American Building Officials ( CABO) 1 & 2 family dwelling code .
    ICBO Evaluation Service -Er # 5142 , 5143 Probably better than TRA whose report Mr. Beyer linked to
    SBCCI & Standard Plumbing Code , PST and ESI Report # 9661
    UPC Listing - Files 3558 , 3946 , 3960 .
    HUD Material Release Number 1269 .
    On top of that it meets or exceeds the German DIN Standard . You should read up on that one .

    Martin ,
    Those plumbers who used to perform that task must have had some arms huh ? The fact that you still see them attests to the durability . It's a shame that humans started to view hard work undesirable . So many of the old ways are now being looked upon to fix what we have allowed to get screwed up . seems every time I turn around " Old is new " nowadays . Maybe someday in the future the human race will be able to slow down and see the forest through the trees .

  25. Terry Lee | | #25

    Martin, Galvanic Corrosion of dissimilar materials has been a known phenomena in the world for centuries, goggle it for links. I don't claim to be a chemist, I have worked side-by-side with them for decades, I know enough to be dangerous compared to them, but I know more than most and when to seek one for a design review. If you don't know the basics of dissimilar materials or like materials you probably don't belong on this discussion. No offense.

    There are so many types and classes of plastics and manufacturing methods I have been around a long time, water supply systems, etc, it would be a science project for me to study, I'd rather devote my time to design and hire a local chemist or converse with the city which we are now.

    I have worked around and helped write ALOT of standards, in test labs, designs, manufacturing, etc, what I know is many are misleading. ASTM does not enforce it's standards, nor does ISO. They are written by committees that are so called SMEs (subject matter experts), just like code with all it's issues. A big part of why things are screwed up in this country. Listing lots of them does not mean alot to me, looking at local water supply, city and home systems with the proper professionals is of more value.

    PEX, PVC, harmful to the environment, not green. Read and weep: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/plastics.html
    People are concerned are doing something about it, I'm just one, like it or not. Yes passion to reduce it in my homes. Most of my building materials come from local quarries and farmers. To every extent possible. I have devoted alot of time and money in R&D to make that possible, it won't end with plastic plumbing.

  26. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #26

    Terry,
    With all due respect, the link you provided is an article on the negative affects caused by plastic trash that reaches oceans. The article is irrelevant to the point we are discussing.

    Of course I am familiar with galvanic corrosion; I used to work at a plumbing supply house.

    Please provide evidence that PEX tubing contributes to a serious galvanic corrosion problem in residential plumbing systems. I seriously doubt that such evidence exists.

  27. Richard Beyer | | #27

    Enjoy your plastics..... Unfortunately we can not hide or escape the wrath of these building materials due to how profiteers and modern tradesmen and women think today.

    Quotes from a recent publication over Massachusetts drinking water....

    "For nearly 20 years, New Englanders drank and bathed in water without knowing it was laced with a neurotoxin."
    "More than half of New England’s 1,050 miles of water pipes sprayed with the contaminant are in Massachusetts, mostly in the Cape Cod region."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/10/06/in-massachusetts-contaminated-drinking-water-linked-to-stillbirths/

    I do not recall reading anything like this relating to copper piping!

    Martin previously stated above; "Fortunately, however, most water supplies are free of toluene."

    I say this with respect Martin! You brilliant construction master mind, Your wrong!

    Quoted from the World Health Organization aka WHO........

    "In approximately 1% of ALL groundwater-derived public drinking-water systems in the
    USA, toluene levels are above 0.5 μg/litre (US EPA, 1988)."

    http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/toluene.pdf

    TOLUENE defined by WHO... "Toluene is used as a solvent, especially for paints, coatings, gums, oils and resins, and as raw material in the production of benzene, phenol and other organic solvents and in the production of polymers and rubbers. Most toluene (in the form of benzene–toluene–xylene mixtures) is used in the blending of petrol (petrol combustion is a major source of emissions), and it also occurs as a by-product of styrene manufacture."

    In my opinion, it does not matter if it's in the drinking water so much as it is present and that PEX reacts with the chemical Toluene. Imagine the concentrations toluene present in the air when the home is under construction.

    How much Toluene is produced and released to the environment?

    Production of toluene was 6.4 billion lbs in 1993. It is released into the atmosphere principally from the volatilization of petroleum fuels and toluene-based solvents and thinners and from motor vehicle exhaust. It is also released in wastewaters or by spills on land during the storage, transport and disposal of fuels and oils.
    From 1987 to 1993, according to EPA's Toxic Chemical Release Inventory, toluene releases to land and water totalled over 4 million lbs., primarily from petroleum refining industries. The largest releases occurred in Texas and California. The largest releases directly to water occurred in Connecticut and West Virginia.

    http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water-contamination/toluene-contaminants-removal-water.htm

  28. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #28

    Richard,
    Your source says that 1% of water supplies have measurable levels of toluene, implying that 99% don't. I think this source supports my statement that "most water supplies are free of toluene."

    There are two issues here.

    1. Should we be concerned that our water supplies are contaminated with toluene? Of course. If industrial polluters are responsible for this contamination of ground water, they should be held responsible for remediation measures.

    2. Is there evidence that PEX tubing reacts with the toluene in some water supplies to produce new compounds that are even more dangerous than toluene? Not that I know of -- but I will stand corrected if you can point to a study that shows that PEX makes things worse.

  29. Malcolm Taylor | | #29

    Flitch, That might explain a lot!

  30. Richard Beyer | | #30

    Martin,

    To answer your question #1. ... It does happen from time to time (corporations being held responsible) only when there's a wallet to chase or these contaminated lands become brown fields for taxpayers to clean up.
    On the other hand your also saying anyone who drives a car, paints a house, uses adhesives, etc., should also be prosecuted for discharging this chemical. It's simply not going to happen. Frankly, I think the 1% contamination factor is minimized when almost every building product relies on toxic chemicals for their manufacturing process. Tradesmen and women use them daily and we both know the chemicals are not being disposed of accordingly.

    Question 2... You missed what I was implying. If Toluene is present from the off gassing of building materials (outside of PEX pipe) during home construction, will PEX tubing degrade or react with the airborne Toluene?

    You stated; "I will stand corrected if you can point to a study that shows that PEX makes things worse."

    I think the burden of proof should be placed on the plastics manufacturer to prove what they are selling is in fact safe and nonreactive to Toluene, not your readers.

    As I posted above which went unrecognized.... JM told countless municipalities that their plastic pipes were safe and look what happened.

    "In some places, pipes made of PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, that were supposed to last 50 years or more exploded in their first year, causing injuries, floods and other dangers."
    "largest maker of plastic pipe defrauded states and municipalities over a decade by knowingly selling them defective pipe for use in their drinking water"
    "JM Eagle’s former corporate parent, the Formosa Plastics Group of Taiwan, was a co-defendant, but it has offered to settle its part of the case for $22.5 million"

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/jury-finds-pipe-maker-defrauded-governments/?_r=0

    There will always be somebody to refute or ignore scientific data. It's buyer beware.

    A consumer protection agent with the State said this to me a few years ago...

    "If you do not take the time to study the in's and out's of product's your purchasing for your home, you have nobody to blame but yourself when your harmed."

    BUYER BEWARE

  31. Richard Beyer | | #31

    Toluene Releases to Water and Land, 1987 to 1993 (in pounds):

    Water Land
    TOTALS* (in pounds) 732,310 3,672,041

    Top Ten States*
    TX 16,285 969,210
    CA 0 930,000
    CT 316,068 0
    OK 0 287,000
    VA 27,500 216,000
    VI 2,970 191,504
    IL 56 180,824
    MI 0 129,226
    WV 117,523 1,377
    SC 6,000 89,578

  32. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #32

    Richard,
    Your expressed worry -- that construction workers will use toluene during construction, and the airborne toluene will attack the exterior of PEX tubing -- is speculative in the extreme. Absolutely no evidence exists that this phenomenon is occurring.

  33. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #33

    Richard, come down off the walls my man. PEX plumbing is not being attacked by airborne toluene. Show me one article that reports toluene, and PEX use is killing folks. I have installs and in Europe there are installs that are decades old and are fine. The tubes haven't been importantly they are not making the water so bad that it's worse than Ebola. Get a grip.

    I have been constructing homes for decades. I am alive. Friends have died of everything and they don't build homes.

    Richard you are on the internet. How? Any plastic in your life, how about the keyboard you are typing this nonsense on, is it plastic and are you committin suicide via your posting here?

    This is not an attack. I love Richard. I just think Richard and Terry are in la la land. You both enjoy the use of plastic all through your lives. Either understand that IMO, or move into a cave and disconnect from GBA for your own safety and to follow your own advice.

    love
    aj

    Really... Am not trying to start anything. Just show exact related facts. PEX is the subject. Point to PEX deaths. I could sharpen the end of a piece and stab someone to death with it I suppose.

  34. Richard Beyer | | #34

    Your right Martin... I'm not worried, just aware.

    I'm simply pointing out Toluene (included by another poster above) whether air-borne or water-borne is still Toluene. The question is if Toluene will react with PEX? I don't know the answer to that, but someone reading does. My point is we give manufacturer's to much credit in thinking they will always sell safe products and tell us the truth.
    I posted several links associated with toxicity and plastic piping found over the years. What you want to believe is your choice. They to were SAFE back then and not so safe anymore.
    Of course these products will not kill us harshly, they may ever so softly.

    What tests great in a lab, does not constitute the same results in the field as time continually proves with many manufactured products derived from chemistry.
    Remember BPA?

    Will plastic pipe carry water from point A to point B? Without question. Will it bring pure water without chemical leaching from the pipe? Doubtful!

    These topics are fun for the inquisitive mind to ponder over on a rainy day like today!

  35. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #35

    Richard,
    I accept your latest comments: "I'm not worried, just aware. ...The question is: will toluene will react with PEX? I don't know the answer to that."

    OK. Fair enough.

  36. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #36

    utter unabridged nonsense

  37. Richard Beyer | | #37

    Sharing the love AJ. ;)

  38. Richard McGrath | | #38

    AJ,
    You anywhere near Plattsburgh ?

  39. Richard Beyer | | #39
  40. Richard McGrath | | #40

    Pretty ironic that after a discussion like this one you would include a link to a fire that probably released loads of the stuff you mentioned into the atmosphere . Even more ironic is the fact that you yourself sell, use , and advocate this stuff for use in homes . See curbless shower thread .

  41. Terry Lee | | #41

    RM wrote: Pretty ironic that after a discussion like this one you would include a link to a fire that probably released loads of the stuff you mentioned into the atmosphere . Even more ironic is the fact that you yourself sell, use , and advocate this stuff for use in homes . See curbless shower thread .

    Beyer is a sales guy? With an agenda? I may have just lost all respect, I never done well with sales guys that twist facts to a sale. I like this site since it values accurate info, I thought it does what it can to avoid sales twisted facts.

    I was beginning to believe Richard M had to be a PEX manufacturer sales rep in disguise. You know more than the average layman.

    What industry do you guys work for, what products? Do you design or build homes for a living, or do you work for a manufacture of building materials?

  42. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #42

    Terry,
    You told us that you live in a house with "metal" plumbing supply pipes. Presumably, that means either galvanized steel pipe or copper tubing. Both products are readily available, so any GBA reader who wants to live in a house like yours can go down to their local plumbing supply house and buy some galvanized pipe or copper tubing. Either material works just fine, although galvanized pipes eventually rust, and copper tubing can develop pinhole leaks in some regions of the country.

    Apparently you don't like PEX, although you haven't yet provided any reason to explain your dislike of PEX, other than "buyer beware" and a general warning that some manufacturers do a poor job of quality control. I suppose that any GBA readers who are convinced by your arguments will go out (as I proposed earlier) and stock up on copper tubing or galvanized pipe.

    I've threaded and worked with my share of black iron and galvanized pipe over the years -- mostly in connection with repairs to old plumbing systems or installation of new propane lines. I don't enjoy the work, but these materials are time-tested. Copper tubing is easier to work with, and that's what I have in my house.

    I have absolutely no reason the think that there is anything wrong with PEX tubing, however -- and no one contributing to this Q&A thread has provided any evidence that GBA readers should worry about PEX.

  43. Terry Lee | | #43

    I told you Beyer knows his stuff, :) Just think we just getting started with Toulene. We think alike. Beyer is one of very few that "shows off his knowledge", I all add to that respectful knowledge. And you Martin, of course. I would provide some links but, I know you are intelligent enough to not draw conclusions from limited internet data. Data that every home, or even a lot sample of homes in every jurisdiction in the world, lacks or results in a reliable design guide. With all due respect, I realize you are an internet designer, but don't let it fool you.

    I would think differently with regard to plastics in automotive and aircraft, I never had a chance to design or review the potable water systems in acft, now I wish I had. I was involved in the installation as a ME, I don't remember plastic lines, but the newer tanks are.

    As I said, it gets complicated when you mix materials. Having worked in big labs, Beyer is right, what happens there can not always be captured in life cycle and actual environments, especially worldwide.

    The biggest problem with this industry as compared to others of corporate structure is builders and homeowners(clients) can design single family homes. In corporate, they are not allowed in Engineering departments unless invited which is rare. The only input they have his on the build, QA on inspection. It is evident by some post, and from I have seen around the internet and here, they are not Design or Manufacturing Engineers, and especially not chemist. Just because you have been installing something for years and not done the proper life cycle testing of that system does not make it correct. The designs I have done are monitored closely, sustained, sometimes for decades. Some of the design changes are the result of better materials and processes, which is a fast moving market Engineers struggle to keep up with, more less builders and homeowners, builders that are too busy building to be on the internet. That, and manufactures such as PEX need to be prohibited from code and standards development.

    I've worked for many manufactures in the USA and Beyer is correct again, buyer beware. Quality control is an issue especially for ones that can't afford it. That is why I manufacture my own walls, systems more of challenge since I don't have the facilities and tooling yet, nor budget. If I did I would. I think it is also becoming Architect Beware, tired of manufacturing false claims, take QC in your own hands.

    Without builders and homeowners asking design engineering questions ( your job Martin would drive me nuts), without alot of manufactures in code, or to advertise.....what happens to building internet sites? Hmmmm? More to ponder, I could only hope that is the future. After all, I fully believe in supporting the American economy, better yet our local economy's where our kids need jobs.

    Metallocenes looks like it has made is way into PE, a "metal complex" in LDPE, not sure about HDPE with more burst pressure mechanical property. It looks to improve the chemical property. Not sure about toxicity in potable water, Richard?

    The under carriage chrome moly steel of my Polaris XP900 would be toast if it was not for HDPE with an oil additive. There is no metal that can skid over rocks that last, not even 100KSI CM. Some applications plastics can not be replaced with metal. These skid plates are compression molded, a thermoplastic. How well LDPE extrudes or forms into PEX-A is questionable. I didn't know that mechanical extrusion alone can take a PE to a amorphic state, that usually require heat too.

    Richard M wrote: I stand by my argument and at this time will distinguish the fact that my comments only refer to PEX-a tubing made by only 3 manufacturers in this country . What differentiates this tubing from types B & C is the fact that the crosslinking takes place during the extrusion process as opposed to after the extrusion process . Since this crosslinking takes place when the Polyethylene is in it's amorphic state (above the crystalline melting point ) the level of crosslinking achieved is uniform with few if any weak links .

    Richard, I believe you are referring the the "glass transition" I have experience with seals and developing it in a lab for manufactures. What three companies are you referring to? Please point to the final indi lab test report and galss transition so I can read it? Studies that show it is inert and stable by indi test?

  44. Richard McGrath | | #44

    I am a fifth generation Plumber and heating designer and installer . I apply the building sciences in all my heating / plumbing designs and truly believe in the house as a system . I am also involved in developing better technologies than we presently have to work with and the equipment to make it possible . I do not work for any manufacturer , only the public at large and to help them intelligently sift through the bull crap spread around so easily through this wonderful invention called the internet . My designs never put first cost above quality and the health and well being of my customers is the most important thing . This whole discussion bothered me because we are discussing material selection based on garbage in the water that should not be there to begin with .

    My question is this , bigger than the piping your drinking water flows through is what should we use to build a bubble around every human so they don't have to breathe the air ?
    Terry , by your responses throughout this thread I would have thought that Mr. Beyer and yourself had coffee everyday and were colleaques . Guess ya learn something everyday , I know I do .

  45. Richard McGrath | | #45

    Engel method Pex or Pex a tubing is manufactured by Uponor , Rehau , and Mr. Pex . To my knowledge these are the only 3 US manufacturers . Mr. Pex is a breakaway company of Uponor ( formerly Wirsbo ) and I am not positive of the Rehau origins . As I stated earlier , you can contact Uponor and they will answer questions gladly .
    Wanna talk about Buyer Beware ? Look closely at the energy efficiency and rebate programs throughout this country . Dismal failures at all they make you believe they achieve . The one thing they do really well is rob the rate payer .

  46. Terry Lee | | #46

    LMAO! I try and type while I awake and drink coffee that's is why I spend so much time editing. :) I have never met anyone on this site nor am I am in private communications.

    Fair enough guys. I'll add this, and I don't have to or want to waste time on BS goggle searches. PEX IS NOT the GODSEND of plumbing systems without it's fair share of issues. GBA readers "beware" if you have come to that conclusion.

    Plastics come is so many forms, properties and manufacturing methods alone that can change their mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties. Show me a comprehensive report of PEX use in world wide water systems, and in conjunction with other materials "commonly" found in those worldwide systems and water supplies. Show me a min of three decades comparable to metal systems and empirical data. I don't think you will find that either, Beyer is right the burden of proof is on the PEX industry not GBA readers or writers. We don't have the means to disprove or prove it.

    Time to quit playing on the net and get to my builds. Later :) We do need the "Chemist an Engineers" to come up with something better.

  47. Richard Beyer | | #47

    You guy's are to funny. Yes, I do advocate using Schluter Systems for "Showers" because it's a great waterproofing system which is proven. I do not advocate the use of their foam panels knowing how toxic they can be when they burn. See the fire link for a great example.
    Now picture spray foam insulation burning in your home to.

    Using Schluter's sheet membranes "under" tile is not going to influence your drinking water but it will save your home from major water and mold damage which your not insured for. Now imagine how much I could earn if I was a salesman for this company? First off, I would be fired for refusing to sell the foam panel systems.
    Let's not get off track here and acknowledge there are hundreds of stories out there with bonafide scientific studies illustrating toxins in drinking water from plastic pipe use and plastic bottled water. Unless the chemicals cause immediate harm, life will continue on. When the chemicals are proven toxic our government gives the manufacturer time to switch to another chemical as they figure a way to cover up the problem in the name of saving jobs. This is currently under way with ozone depleting blowing agent's in the foam industry. You don't need to be a scientist to figure this out, but your foolish to think anyone is protecting our families from cancer causing agents used to construct these products.

    We live in a buyer beware society for which no one will assume responsibility for the toxic products they create or generate.

  48. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #48

    Never saw bologna stacked so high.

    PEX is a great product

    You guys should go play on a UFO website. You'll find all the rest of your conspirators.

  49. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #49

    Richard, southern adker, I do take care of an estate in Chazy every spring... June is spring in Chazy. Coffee or an IPA next June maybe

  50. Richard Beyer | | #50

    Martin said, "I have absolutely no reason the think that there is anything wrong with PEX tubing, however -- and no one contributing to this Q&A thread has provided any evidence that GBA readers should worry about PEX."

    Being Martin with his connections to Dr. Joe @ BSC, I would think the two of them would've already taken samples of PEX tubing, boiled it @ 120F and performed a chemical analysis. Where's your report your preparing to toss at us Martin?

    Edited...

    "PEX requires special fittings and is not recyclable. The chemical cross-linking required to produce PEX adds expense, and increases the potential for contaminant migration from plastic to water.
    Durand also reports that organic leachates were low in CPVC and HDPE and somewhat higher in some PEX materials.

    Regardless of pipe material choice, a significant risk of contamination still exists from some plumbing
    fixture types (18). Furthermore, due to on-going and legacy pollution, introduced chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fertilizers, industrial chemicals, etc., are returning to us through surface
    water (19). As a result, drinking water may be contaminated prior to building supply and distribution.
    Plumbing materials may simply add another “dose” to this ongoing contamination."

    http://www.pprc.org/research/rapidresDocs/PPRC_HDPE_Water_Pipe_Safety_FINAL.pdf
    ________________________________________________________________________________
    PEX Plastic Pipe: Victory Results in Significant Protection for Homeowners, Building Occupants and Workers

    "The PEX EIR found that methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) and tert-Butyl alcohol can leach from PEX in amounts that exceed taste, odor and health guidelines set by the State of California for drinking water. The PEX EIR found that PEX pipes can initially leach as much as 290 ppb of MTBE."

    "The PEX EIR found that, unlike copper pipe, outside contaminants such as pesticides, oil, gasoline, and benzene can permeate through PEX pipe into drinking water."

    "Several studies and articles comparing potable water pipe materials, including variants of PEX, polybutylene, polypropylene, CPVC, copper and steel, have found that PEX, at least initially, displayed the strongest biofilm formation and the strongest promotion of the growth of Legionella bacteria."

    http://www.calpipes.org/protectingcalifornians_pex.asp
    ___________________________________________________________________________
    "2,4-di-tert-butyl phenol and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) were two of the major individual components detected."

    "As you can see from this, one chemical that showed higher than average leaching and is a carcinogen was Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), but it disappeared in most of the pipes after five months of use. MTBE has previously been a concern as something inhaled because it is a by product of gas production. Ingestion by drinking isn’t as well studied."

    http://greenhomeguide.com/askapro/question/is-there-any-new-information-on-the-relative-safety-of-pex-plumbing-material

  51. Richard McGrath | | #51

    Will be right on the lake in 2 weeks to tear down a poorly done heating system and assemble it the right way for so my customer can experience this year what he thought he was paying for last year . Such a shame there are so many people impersonating professionals out there .

  52. Terry Lee | | #52

    RM wrote: Engel method Pex or Pex a tubing is manufactured by Uponor , Rehau , and Mr. Pex . To my knowledge these are the only 3 US manufacturers . Mr. Pex is a breakaway company of Uponor ( formerly Wirsbo ) and I am not positive of the Rehau origins . As I stated earlier , you can contact Uponor and they will answer questions gladly .
    Wanna talk about Buyer Beware ? Look closely at the energy efficiency and rebate programs throughout this country . Dismal failures at all they make you believe they achieve . The one thing they do really well is rob the rate payer .

    Ok, thanks, I'll look closer at these manufactures and the data on their sites soon. Agree, I'm not participating in any rating joke program, we have educational material along this line for clients on our website. I have better things to do with my time and money.

  53. Terry Lee | | #53

    Is there an member ignore list out here I cannot find so I don’t have to see some post that are not helpful and add no value to the discussions? (Not you RM)

    Great articles Richard, thank you, that some will ignore…… You’ll notice none of the studies resulted in PE being inert or stable, on the contrary toxic to some level depending on brand.

    These articles are from SME’s (chemist, engineers, scientist) creditable, and are not being ignored by many states and jurisdictions. I do believe you fulfilled Martins request, and we should be highly concerned about the lack of quality empirical data, testing, control at the supplier and jurisdiction level. Here is my input, some of which I already knew having direct experience with plastics and the manufacture of them.

    “A recent review by Stern and Lagos points out the complexity of risk assessment of plastic water pipes (13). Which chemicals migrate from any given pipe depend not only on chemical formulation, but also on pipe material characteristics. Formulations can vary from supplier to supplier and over time. Migration may change with water quality and usage environment. Little is known about some contaminants, while others are known to be harmful, especially to vulnerable populations. With this dynamic background, assuring safety is a challenge. “

    “The chemical exposure risks cannot be fully elucidated, given the complexity of material types, changing formulations, and varying application circumstances. “

    The variations in the design and manufacture of plastic manufacturing is high. On the plus side, it beats metal in its ability to change properties and design to certain applications, leading to cost reductions, ease of installation. On the negative side, as stated, the variations are difficult to control and quantify by standard and manufacturing processes. What the manufacture will do is design to standard or industry allowables, budget, which may or may not produce a safe well tested product. As I said, putting quality control or assurance in a buyer beware approach is the wrong approach, putting system design in the hands of unqualified homeowners and builders is the wrong approach. With limited budget, the released product will be put to field testing for consumer or "field' testing. The results as seen in plastic plumbing history can result in class action law suits….. We as a GC have many release of liability clauses our plumbers have signed for this reason. We're having lunch with our attorney next week, looks like a good topic for discussion. If I were designing PEX into my homes I meet with my agent next to discuss E&O.

    “Failures of PEX and PEX fittings have resulted in consumer lawsuits in Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado and numerous other areas across the United States. “

    “In 2002, the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) filed an unsuccessful lawsuit arguing that review of PEX pipe under CEQA was unlawful”

    Just five years ago…..

    “On December 30, 2009, the Alameda County Superior Court entered judgment overturning the approval of PEX and requiring preparation of a new environmental impact report. The Court held that the Commission failed to evaluate cancer and other health risks from chemicals leaching from PEX, failed to evaluate drinking water taste and odor impacts from chemical leaching, and failed to evaluate the risk of premature PEX pipe failures in certain applications. ”…

    More should follow CA regulations although there still exist unknowns and concerns….

    “There are pros and cons to any choice of piping materials, but it seems likely that the risk of chemical contamination from copper piping is lower and better understood than for plastic pipe.”

    Your local city, as I said, has an understanding supply to the home, have added solvents to prevent leaching and corrosion, adding an unknown plastic increases risk. More materials, more risk. No speculation, a well known fact in many industries …..

    “The PEX industry has done an inadequate job of acknowledging and addressing the known weakness of PEX pipe when exposed to typical U.S. potable water system chemical composition. Our drinking water is chemistry; hydrogen, oxygen, purification (chlorine) additives, etc. When PEX representatives state that PEX has a 35+ year successful history in potable water applications, they are talking about the product history in Europe where little chlorine is used. “

    I got a kick out of this,

    “This low level of test requirement for all PEX pipe to pass was voted and passed by the PEX manufacturers themselves. A stricter more realistic testing for the real and known conditions of chlorinated potable water PEX piping systems in the U.S. needs to exist. “

    I never heard of a such a low .5 design or test standard margin of safety….PEX risk factor increases after 25 years an unknown, copper a known…..

    “The ASTM F2023 testing doesn't use a typical .50 design factor and has extrapolated test data of 50 years. The design factor is nothing more than a mathematical component to the extrapolated test data of expected product life. Take the ASTM f2023 documented 50 years and apply the industry accepted .50 year factor and PEX only has an expected service life of25 years, five years less than the traditional home loan. “

    More UV risk…..more additives, or none. Nice how the manufacture warrantee can be null and void before the PEX is installed in the home. ….compound by UV chlorine additive degradation….some brands have no hot water warranty.

    “Each PEX pipe manufacturer has a written statement or warning concerning the amount of time their brand of pipe may be exposed to UV before their warranty is voided. After their specific brand of pipe is exposed to that amount of UV then their warranty is null and void. The unknown factor is no one knows how long a piece of PEX pipe or a coil of PEX pipe has been exposed to UV throughout the distribution channel that the pipe travels.”

    “Studies show just a one-week exposure to sunlight may reduce the chlorine resistance lifetime of some PEX pipes by half; with a two week exposure completely depleting PEX of any chlorine resistance. The susceptibility to sunlight exposure creates a liability risk to contractors and installers because there is almost no way to tell why PEX pipe has prematurely failed or to determine how long PEX pipe has been exposed to sunlight. “

    This says it all……PB is the basic material for PEX.

    “Polybutylene (PB) passes ASTM F2023 and it failed miserably in US. water conditions. “

    Although both metal and plastic have there issues, I’ll stick to a better known metal and let other people be the test articles. Seems to me, it won’t be difficult in a competitive sales market to win with a historical known vs unknown PEX. As the costly codes, regulations, law suits, pile up, buyer beware word of mouth, I doubt PEX passes the test of time.

  54. Rick Van Handel | | #54

    Gentlemen,

    We are talking about fixture supply lines located inside a house correct? How in the world will these lines be contaminated by pesticides, pharmaceuticals, mtbe, and the like? Most people aren't installing pex underground, so this us a non factor.

    Secondly, those concerned about plastic supply lines must be living in a utopian community, because the municipal water supply system is a being systematically changed over to plastic distribution products. The old ductile iron water mains are being replaced with c-900pvc mains. Why? Because the life expectancy of plastic piping is 2-3 times as long. Plastic piping also withstands vibration and freezing conditions much better than ductile iron. Go figure. In a cold climate like Wisconsin, on a -10 day, there will be hundreds if not thousands of emergency repair crews dispatched to fix ductile iron water main breaks. It's like whack a mole. Shut down water, install repair sleeve, turn water back on, and a new break develops! Same with the laterals from the main to your lot. We haven't installed a copper lateral for over 10 years. Now it's all 200 psi polyethylene.

    I'm not knocking copper. It's a great product with few disadvantages. However, it is expensive and as others have noted, it can develop leaks. I've had to replace a few copper laterals that were only 7,years old. They were installed for future connection. When the houses were built 7 years later, guess what? Pinhole leaks. Maybe because the lines weren't filled with water?

    My underlying point being---you aren't avoiding plastic in your drinking water unless you have your own private well (with copper line from pitiless adapter to house) or you own the complete water distribution system from water tower to your house and have spec'd out ductile and copper materials only.

    Also, brass compression fittings and all 1/4 turn ball valves use plastic, along with every faucet I know of.

  55. Keith Gustafson | | #55

    <<<<"The PEX EIR found that, unlike copper pipe, outside contaminants such as pesticides, oil, gasoline, and benzene can permeate through PEX pipe into drinking water."<<<

    damn, gonna hafta reroute my pex piping out of my tank of benzene...

    really people.

    I personally prefer copper but have a ton of pex for heating and some for water.

    There is no such thing as zero risk, and that includes all metal pipes, so one should invest some thought in the probabilities of pex or something else being more of a risk than what it replaces.

  56. Keith Gustafson | | #56

    Oh, and upon investigation, the people fighting pex are, among others, the union pipe fitters.

    yawn

  57. Terry Lee | | #57

    To understand the material you have to be able to understand it. Some referred to indoor plumbing, others referred to outdoor. Much was sited as a lack of regulations and history using different brands of PEX. Not all brands are created equal. Your limited experience with it will not be the next ISO or ASTM design and test standard. The massive litigation behind PEX should be evident enough...to each their own.

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/young-modulus-d_417.html

    BTW: Iron is not ductile when exposed to heat and cold temp, the modulus of elasticity is high compared to many plastics depending on material composition (alloys), additives, tempers, heat treats, along with yield strength and ultimate tensile.....Cold working (bending, etc) makes it more brittle (less ductile) but better UTS. Some heat treats elevate iron to 1000-2000 F, cold quench, cold work to a manu spec to control brittleness and ductility, MOE, other mechanical/thermal properties. Plastic can be designed to have a high plasticity property, but since PEX is a thermoset they are normally brittle and worsen by UV and cold working....Electrical wall plates are thermosets....Thermoplastic have high ductility, MOE, better in UV such as your car dash board.

  58. Malcolm Taylor | | #58

    Terry, You have an interesting perspective and a lot of professional experience but for us to appreciate it you need to somehow express it in a way others can understand.

    "To understand the material you have to be able to understand it. Some referred to indoor plumbing, others referred to outdoor. Much was sited as a lack of regulations and history using different brands of PEX."

    Paragraphs like this simply don't make any sense.

  59. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #59

    This thread is utter nonsense. We can go deep into this that and the other thing... toluene and lists of secret chemical use and plastic leaches...

    We all live with plastic. Terry has plastic all around him and all through his world. Every product he uses is not tested fully to his liking,... the toothpaste, the tooth brush, coffee... tea... oatmeal... car... computer.. same with Richard.

    This is a thread for nuts. to yap about.

    And you all know I love nuts... especially you two nuts... this is not meant to be disparaging. I love reading nutty yap. Keep going.. great entertainment

    Oh by the by I love the smell of toluene... my favorite food bananas... like you two.. I love bananas and people that go bananas...

  60. Terry Lee | | #60

    To avoid confussion, let's stick with indoor and PEX, not HDPE or ground applications which is a different material design and discussion. Chlorine and not some of the other water purifiers the industry needs to look at.

    Malcolm, simply put the test data in the material Beyer presented shows that PEX when exposed to sunlight can loose it's antioxidant or oxidize as the result of a water purifier such as the chlorine additive melt down. Similar to galvanized iron and steel loosing it corrosion preventative zinc over time, and it will depending on exposure, oxidation occurs fast. When that happens is an unknown, it can be the minute PEX is exposed to, according to CA regs, 30 days after. That is the risk other than some of the others noted finding's in the test results. The best an installer can do is not throw this stuff in the back of your truck, hope the manufacture kept it out of the sun in transport. Although the manufacture has increased it's flexibility (flex modulus), it will become brittle if it sees alot of flexing. Other than that look for a manufacture warrante, especially in hot water, and follow the CA regs until more are mandated which is just a matter of time.

    There are two basic families of plastics, thermoset (PEX, ABS, PVC), thermoplastics, used extensively in aircraft/auto as well. It is a well know fact we don't design thermosets for dashboards or canopy's.....Not to say it is impossible with the expensive additives, but thermoplastics lend themselves better to high UV strength applications, especially if they are reinforced with fiber, glass, carbon, kevlar, etc. Carbon graphite being very strong especially when infused with pressure (300f ish psi, and temp 600f ish) ....these plastics compare in fatigue life, mechanical, thermal properties to steel and iron. Thermosets lend themselve to being extruded, the mechanical action of extruding increases strength(tensile failure or UTS (ultimate tensile strength) but can become brittle, thermoplastics to high curvature compression and injection molding. Bench test determine materials properties (UTS, burst pressure (compression), et, it is not a guessing game. Designers should look at these properties. Yelid is another big one in plastics, the point when a material starts to yield to plasticity.

    For aircraft buffs......
    These plastics beat out metal in corrosion by approximately 1/3 life. When we switched from aluminum skins on most of the Boeing fleet to CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic, the feild inspections dropped by 1/3, and we don't have to do chem treats every 5 years anymore. We used this on the new Dreamliner an amazing product and assemble line we Americans should take pride in, now the 777, 737 New Generation big sellers are getting re-winged with it, and better engines. Airbus is the competitor. I recently got an offer to go to Seattle to redesign the 777 I turned down since I'm having way to much fun here on GBA trying to explain things in simple terms. I use to take pride in that since I am a mechanic and installer too, but I guess my writing skills are no good. ;)

  61. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #61

    Terry,
    We're going in circles here. You like metal water supply pipes; you've got them in your house. We get that. As I wrote in one of my earlier comments, any GBA reader convinced by your arguments can buy copper tubing at any lumber yard or plumbing supply house. It's readily available.

    There is no evidence whatsoever that sunlight exposure damage to indoor PEX tubing is a problem. There has never been a single report of a failure due to that mechanism, as far as I know.

    But listen -- you can come up with all sorts of scenarios if you want. Maybe a plumber wants to leave a coil of PEX in the hot sun for 12 months. Maybe a builder spills a gallon of toluene on the basement floor. Maybe this, maybe that.

    The fact is, PEX has been used for decades, and these proposed scenarios -- which sound a little bit like, "What would happen if Lex Luther put some kryptonite in a time machine, and sent it to Smallville so that Superman would be exposed to kryptonite as a baby?" -- haven't happened.

  62. Terry Lee | | #62

    Again, please read this time....

    http://www.calpipes.org/pdf/Lubrizol_Letter.pdf

    "The two known degrades of PEX longevity arc chlorine found in the water and exposure to_ultra violet sunlight. Both of these PEX degraders are prevalent throughout the State of California in the distribution channel, installation and installed use of PEX pipe in potable water systems. "

    So I guess you are saying CA has adopted a manufacturing mandate of a UV additives without just cause.....the 30 days is what all manufactures need to be held accountable to so that installers have time before the antioxidant decomposes.

    http://www.calpipes.org/protectingcalifornians_pex.asp

    If your not reading the material this is waste of time. It won't matter if stacks of evidence is presented, some including manufactures and their supports will ignore it. I got better things to do, please do ignore all concerns and use PEX it is the best thing that has ever happen to the plumbing industry, it is impossible to have any issues, that is the simple answer some want to read period.

    Good luck! I got what I needed out of the thread, thanks again RB.

  63. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #63

    Terry, I started installing PEX decades ago. The pipes are fine. Nuttin.

    In the same time, pumps are being replaced, wetrol tanks being replaced, hotwater tanks being replaced, homes being repainted 4 times since the first time... metal rods in docks rotted down to nothing, replaced.... deck screws that bragged of lifetime coatings rotting to nothing with dock boards floating away in the waves...

    But no problems with PEX and no problems with copper.

    And every camp used to have galv pipe plumbing. All of us that work on camps have replaced all of it over the last few decades... it lasted well for fifty years... but it all is crap now and been ripped out.

    Next item to start ripping out is old BX. You're the one with all the answers... to me it seems the copper wire used back then was very small diameter per supposed current abilities and the wire is quite brittle. When I redo an old BX juncttion box... I add a box extender.... and cross my fingers that all is OK dokie internally.

    Biut my PEX.... sorry to tell you real world use... is fine.... dandy... doing great.... surviving chlorine and bananas.

  64. Stephen E | | #64

    Using pex in rentals for a while with copper manifolds. Use all brass fittings. They can freeze and no harm done. Easy to install in existing structures and last. Copper in residential uses is not needed at all. I understand why plumbers want to make money with the labor involved in copper installs. I get that. Giving the best option to the customer is where Christianity meets to road.

  65. Richard Beyer | | #65

    The question(s) which started this discussion...

    Here's your politically correct answers.........................
    Q; I read that PEX and copper are not the best.
    A; Because it's not the best. It's another source for delivering water from point A to B

    Q; Then if PVC is used to bring city water to my home, does that contribute to any chemical leakage?
    A; Yes!! As pointed out in the numerous links shared previously, chemical leakage comes from the generators piping straight through to the home which delivers that same potable water through your tap or shower head.

    Q; Should I make my plumbing out of natural materials?
    A; Good luck finding a commercially available "all natural" material aside from carving out your own pipes from timber or stone.

    Q; What is the best and for how long will it last?
    A; On average plumbing will give you 20 years of use without major concerns. Everything else can be cured with proper filtration.

    Martin's most recent comment; "There is no evidence whatsoever that sunlight exposure damage to indoor PEX tubing is a problem."

    Martin what exactly are you seeking from this debate? Several links have been provided to answer the original posters question with extreme technical explanations to difficult for old goats to comprehend who have done the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Therefore it's easy to dismiss what you do not want to see or read.
    Based on the original question, it does not appear as though the question is of any significance, rather asked as a question to form a debate. It was successful now, wasn't it?

  66. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #66

    Richard,
    Thanks for your input. I suggest that GBA readers who are interested in other perspectives than mine read Scott Gibson's article, How Safe is PEX Tubing?

    In that article, GBA technical director Peter Yost concluded, "Your selection is likely to be driven by project-specific design and construction considerations. For example, I prefer piping that best accommodates structured plumbing design and efficient hot water flow; the ability and ease with which PEX permits large radius bends reduces turbulence and means more efficient plug flow of hot water. "

  67. Nate G | | #67

    So we have an industry expert saying that chlorine in the water can degrade PEX. And we have installers in the U.S. where the water supply is chlorinated saying that PEX installations have lasted for multiple decades without leak or degradation problems.

    What's the disconnect? Is the level of chlorine low enough that it's not a big issue? Are the experts wrong? Is there another compound in the water that's protecting the PEX from chlorine?

    I'm as interested as anyone in devising a system that will not be degraded by its expected inputs. It's a fun exercise. Longevity is good. We all want things that don't have to be replaced regularly at high expense. But if plumbing systems that we would theoretically expect to degrade in the presence of the chlorine we all know is in the water aren't actually degrading… that suggests to me that the theory needs an update to explain it.

  68. Nate G | | #68

    And for that matter, chlorine corrodes copper, too. And yet I live in a house with an original copper plumbing system that's 42 years old. Should I expect it to leak any minute now? Maybe... But 42 years ain't bad. 400 would be nice, of course. Maybe cement-lined ductile iron pipe used residentially out of soil contact will last that long. Jerry, why don't you put it in your test chamber and let us know? ;)

  69. Malcolm Taylor | | #69

    Working under the assumption that the water supply lines might need replacing before the rest of the house fell down, when I built my own place I made several allowances for their eventual removal. The main line enters the house under the slab in a 4" PVC sleeve. The lines feeding the bathrooms and laundry are clustered as far as possible in a single bulkhead. It's still going to be disruptive, and some drywall removal will be necessary, but a little forethought can go some ways to alleviating the eventual pain.

  70. Terry Lee | | #70

    I’m amazed at how naive some people are that think ease of construction, longevity, dimensional stability, flow, etc, and what the eye can see makes what the naked eye cannot see safe. Did anyone take high school chemistry? Ever see a microscope? Ever been in a lab? Plastics add far more chemicals to safe water equation than metals and the number is growing, the lack of history add to the risk. Your very limited field observations, chemically, mean nothing, period! Nor do mine or anyone else that is not equipped mentally and physically (lab) to do a proper analysis. Martin, making reference to my home or anyone else, or using anyone especially non-professional analysis or reference is confusing the GBA reader.

    I found this on GBA. “Black Mica”, you can learn a lot by watching the many videos, but claiming a “4th” phase of water “structured” is where I began to raise big flags. This miracle mineral can magnetically pull contaminates out of water being the 4th phase. It is so profound it can cure health issues, not create them. The videos do put in perspective the complexity of the chemical nature of the subject matter, and what the eye cannot see, I’ll give it that. Did a quick goggle for scams finding they are not allowed to sell in CAN since they were caught lying about approvals. They have test results from a lab showing an EPA number I did not verify. If it's such a miracle cities would be using it, not private selling as supplement. They scams claim thay have added magnetic metals that cause health issues.

    This product is controversial, I am surprised GBA advertises it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scjr2KZwKxM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKE9QskWLcU
    http://www.naturalnews.com/035664_adya_clarity_black_mica_extract_complaints.html#

  71. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #71

    Terry,
    I can assure you that BuildingGreen's review of the environmental pluses and minuses of different plumbing supply pipe materials -- the review that was referenced in the GBA article by Scott Gibson -- was anything by "naive." In fact, it was fairly thorough.

    The BuildingGreen report concluded, "Just as USGBC’s PVC report suggested that PVC and ABS have lower environmental costs than cast iron DWV pipe, multiple points of evidence suggest that plastic supply pipe, particularly PEX and Fusiotherm, offers benefits over copper."

  72. Terry Lee | | #72

    Ok, I'll read it tomorrow. I been in enough labs, know the design process very well, seen ALOT of empirical evidence to know it is never that simple, especially chemistry. I hope to read the final lab test report produced in a world class lab for starters, the monitoring of at least 30 years of field observations across the globe that include all chemicals found in water supplies today, all plastic additives, manufacturing processes, etc. That burden of proof is on the PEX industry, not GBA, or any single individual (that is a joke, ha!). Anything less is speculation.

  73. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #73

    Terry,
    Scientific knowledge is always evolving, as new data emerge. Each of us, every day, makes decisions based on our best understanding. This does not require certainty. In fact, certainty is rarely possible.

    The many uncertainties surrounding the use of PEX have to be balanced against the known problems associated with copper (including the devastating environmental effects of copper mining, as well as the known problems associated with pinhole leaks in copper tubing) as well as uncertainties surrounding possible hazards associated with metal piping.

    We weigh these uncertainties in our minds when we decide on what type of piping to install in our homes. And, whether we realize it or not, these uncertainties affect us every time we drink water from any source other than an unpolluted mountain stream -- for example, when we drink from a water fountain connected to a municipal water system, or when we drink from a plastic bottle of Evian important from Europe.

    When we take a drink of water, we are not declaring that all of the uncertainties have been settled. We are simply doing our best, in this uncertain world, to quench our thirst.

    If you have traveled in rural Latin America, Asia, or Africa, you know what a blessing it is to have regular access to water that is uncontaminated by giardia, hepatitis, or cholera. A high percentage of the world's population is not as lucky as we are -- those of use who have access to clean water for ourselves and our children. In comparison to this huge, world-wide public health issue, the decision to choose copper or PEX for the last 30 feet of piping to our faucet (piping that may extend for 30 miles from the reservoir to our house) matters -- but it doesn't matter as much as you think.

  74. Paul Conte | | #74

    I'm building a new home and confronted the PEX or copper question. I have a builder and plumber who are experienced, quality folks; and they had every answer for why PEX was "better and less expensive" than copper.

    Leaving aside health issues for this post, I looked into durability. I will distill this down from lots of literature review and discussions. The "final straw" was a result of my discussion with a technical person from Uponor:

    * Does PEX itself oxidize and erode in the presence of oxidants, such as chlorine and fluoride? "Yes."
    * Would unprotected PEX exposed to the flow of water with oxidants eventually erode to the point of failure? "Yes."
    * How is PEX water supply pipe manufactured to address this problem? "Sacrificial agents are added, and they oxidize instead of the PEX itself."
    * Will the sacrificial agents eventually be depleted when exposed to the flow of water with oxidants? "Yes."
    * Will the PEX itself then be oxidized? "Yes."
    * What is the expected service life of your PEX pipe when exposed to the flow of water with oxidants? "We have extrapolated data that, under most conditions, the PEX pipe will last at least 25 years. We expect it will last much longer."
    * What evidence do you have to support a longer than 25 year service life for water supplies that are chlorinated or contain other oxidants? "Our tests only provide evidence of at least 25 years." [He was unable to provide anything in this regard.]

    I'll add that the Uponor tech guy's answers were consistent with the information I got from e-mail exchanges with several Ph.D. researchers.

    I realize that copper is not "permanent." I'm aware of conditions under which it's especially vulnerable (e.g., acid soils). I'm aware that copper does erode under normal use; and, for example, high velocity flow through undersized pipes or turbulence from bad fitting joints (and other installation errors) can lead to premature erosion.

    However, all that said, we do have many years of experience with properly installed copper under "typical" conditions, and Type L copper appears to have provided a service life in the field much longer than 25 years. (I replumbed my current 1929 house to replace galvanized supply with Type L copper 37 years ago, and it hasn't had a single issue.)

    Because the service life of properly installed copper pipe under "normal" conditions is a result of erosion, my decision was to use thicker Type K pipe with generous sizing to lower velocity. (Our "philosophical" design point for the new house is a 200-year life.)

    Please appreciate that I'm not preaching any religion. I'm reflecting a "risk averse" decision process: In the end, I could not find compelling evidence that PEX would last as long as Type K copper.

    As a final note, being "risk averse," I also found that the evidence regarding health risks were better known with respect to installed copper pipe than with PEX. The scale again tipped to copper.

    BTW, my plumber thinks I'm nuts, but my builder said he agreed with the call.

  75. Malcolm Taylor | | #75

    Paul, Sounds like a sensible approach which lead you to a reasonable conclusion.

    "Our "philosophical" design point for the new house is a 200-year life."

    Beyond the foundation and framing, can you tell me which of the house's elements you think will last for this time-frame?

  76. Paul Conte | | #76

    Hopefully will last 200 years with proper care ...
    * In Living Room, Dining Room and Sun Alcove: Solid, 3/4"x4" T&G floor (probably, rift-sawn oak from local mill), installed over 1-1/8" Edge Gold subfloor "glued and screwed"; sanded and finished on-site with penetrating oil and wax.
    * Finger-jointed, beveled, CVG cedar lap siding (4" exposure). Primed 6 sides before installation over a furred rain screen on top of ZIPsystem sheathing. Siding primed after installation. Two coats S-W Duration.
    * #1 CVG individual cedar shingles under eaves. Ditto prep and installation as siding.
    * Exterior cedar trim. Same prep as above
    * Masonry fireplace and chimney. CMU "core" with 4"-thick Tuff (native stone) veneer.
    * Bluestone over compacted fill front porch and steps.
    * ZIPsystem roof sheathing..
    * Plaster walls in LR, DR and Sun Alcove.
    * Solid wood doors
    * Electrical wiring and high-quality light fixtures (no "cans")
    * Various locations with porcelain and ceramic tile floors and counters
    * Wood cabinetry & stairs
    * Metal-clad wood windows (Jeld-Wen Custom) (cladding may need replacement)

    Obvious replacements:
    * Carpet
    * Marmoleum floor
    * Laminate counter
    * Composition roof shingles
    * Gas furnace
    * Water heater
    * Plumbing fixtures
    * Pre-molded shower; tub
    * Ventilation fans
    * Appliances

    Probably major repair/replacement:
    * Drywall
    * Plumbing

    And ... the BIG question is how the insulation will fare.
    * Thermomass CIC stem walls with 3" XPS inside the concrete
    * Inside wall cavities -- TBD

  77. Malcolm Taylor | | #77

    Paul, That's a great break down. Once you separate them out like that you can detail the elements that need replacing so it isn't that intrusive.
    I wonder what the expected lifespan of ABS or PVC drains are? And carrying on that thought whether it's better to use metal or plastic pipe for bathroom exhausts?

  78. Paul Conte | | #78

    I am guessing that the waste drains will last that long because they have no UV, no pressure and low frictional wear. We (me, designer, builder, plumber) are having a constructive "debate" right now about AAV's, but in any case, no plastic vents above the roof (avoid UV deterioration).
    Ducts are challenging, too. Round, rigid metal for most things. But straight section of flex for the last 5 to 10 feet for noise isolation.
    I'm finding the "durability" issue can have a lot of surprises. Like ... We were looking at Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations -- very cool science -- capturing the heat as ground moisture changes state to ice. Midway through my education and analysis of which foam and how to protect, a casual comment -- "Have you thought about the carpenter ants? They love to build in the foam."

    Yikes! Sure, one might get ten years protection from insecticide additives in the foam and another ten by remembering to call Orkin every year (ugh!). But what happens when we let that slide because of life's unexpected intrusions?

    We decided we couldn't depend on preventing the carpenter ants from chewing our clever system up. So ... we've constructed a Thermomass CIC foundation wall with 3" of XPS inside an 11" stem wall (4" concrete on each side). I'll admit I'm not sure the XPS will provide the thermal resistance for 200 years, but we can always add foam on the inside. (Or decide to fight the carpenter ants.)
    BTW, if you'd like to see that foundation and other aspects of our new home, you can visit http://home4jp.com . Be aware that the site is not completely up-to-date, and not all of our decisions have been "politically correct." ;-)

  79. Richard Beyer | | #79

    Paul are you designing for longevity and health or just longevity? I ask because several of the building products you listed have known toxins and carcinogens. For further research into this if it is something your interested in you can view the numerous tested building materials by visiting...

    http://www.healthybuilding.net/

    Also, I seriously doubt any modern home will last 200 years let alone 100 years with all of the unknowns involved with modern building products. It seems every time we turn around new science comes out telling us how toxic our homes are to our children.

    This article was released today with several hyperlinks to more research...

    http://www2.buildinggreen.com/article/report-warns-asthma-causing-chemicals-building-products?utm_source=BuildingGreen.com+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=5a10b0948e-BGB_2014_11_10&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d558b0594a-5a10b0948e-157196569&mc_cid=5a10b0948e&mc_eid=a658fd5b9b

  80. Paul Conte | | #80

    Richard,

    Healthy(ier) practices might increase my longevity, right? ;-) At my age, however, the cellular die is probably already cast.

    In seriousness, I'd value your comments on specifics regarding health impacts.

    As to the longevity of the house, I did allow that 200 years was a "philosophical" design point. By that I meant that I want to use materials (and practices) that will last as long as possible or be repairable or replaceable without unreasonable (amortized) cost, and that won't fail catastrophically. And, of course, while we have a substantial budget, it's not unlimited.

    I should also add that we want a house that's a joy to live in. Thus, our unapologetic choice of lots of windows and a traditional wood-burning fireplace.

  81. Malcolm Taylor | | #81

    Paul, Good call on the carpenter ants. I have had several battles with them in foam and by the time you realize there is an infestation and deal with it quite bit of damage can already have occurred.
    I know GBA features a number of projects that have load-bearing elements supported on foam, and my apprehension may turn out to be misplaced, but it's not something I am comfortable doing.

  82. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #82

    Richard, you are not going to live for a billion years or for eternity or longer than eternity...

    Question Richard. If you could define the perfect home and life. What is in it, of course none of it would be toxic. But what to you is not toxic? Anything?

    If you eat too many free range rutabagas even, you will reach a state of toxicity. Even my favorite bananas... like you two... are not non toxic... but come on man...

    What other interest do you have besides tile and toxicity searches on the internet. (love your tile knowledge sharing)

    This thread is toxic to basic common sense thinking IMO.... posting...living... relaxing... not worrying... peace harmony... dancing to a great live band... and best of best... hang gliding off a 2000' cliff, those are much healthier and less toxic pursuits than.... pursuing an endless list of products that may effect .002% of those that make a life of worrying.

    Do you play chess? Tennis? Build models? Sing in a choir? Crochet? Any activity will lower your stress and toxic pursuit disease... What do yaa think? No? No right... gotta search out toxins.. got to aj... got to... so they don't get us.... it's us or them.

    Yes we must agree to disagree... I'm just feeding this animal so she gets to 100... a good life... for a thread right... help it live and beat back any toxins....that might have a .001% chance at ending her before her natural time.

    I think a piece of PEX tried to get me this morning when I past by it... too much UV or chlorine in the air maybe... or my banana toluene breath made a bit more vicious or no... it might have put a key logger on my puter and knows I am yapping bout it.. good bad and ugly like... i use it. it's in my servitude.... involuntarily... that's it!

    All in jest folks... look away if yaa might be harmed by this here contents... love yaa all... even you toxic types.

  83. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #83

    Now carpenter ants.... coming to destroy a home near you... look out folks... don't try to arm wrestle one.

    Carpenter ants bad for plumbing...with PEX.. or copper... or hollowed out trees? Where on earth do any of you feel safe? Anywhere?

  84. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #84

    This year the yard is chocked full of nuts....nuts everywhere every square inch... and overflowing onto the net even...

    Anyone have a yard full of nuts? Acorns.. by the millions here.

  85. Richard Beyer | | #85

    Paul,

    I'd be happy to review your building products and share with you some of the less "toxic" alternatives available to you if your serious about it or you can research the products yourself on the link I shared with you. http://www.healthybuilding.net/ May I also suggest you select GreenGuard certified building materials as shown in this link... http://www.greenguard.org/en/index.aspx

    AJ...

    I committed my life to the building trades and was awarded several training certificates. As a trained Certified Floor Covering Inspector, Sr Carpet Inspector, Certified Hard and Soft Surface Floor Covering Installation Trainer, Expert Witness (Court Ordered), 18 years as a Stone Countertop Manufacturer, High End Shower Systems Builder, 3 dedicated years to researching toxic building materials with a focus on spray polyurethane foam insulation (now I'm labeled as an expert in this field by the State of Connecticut). I think by now I have some knowledge of what I'm talking about. I'm also the first man in the Country to challenge the spray foam chemical industry on the record with the help of our State Representative to achieve a unanimous vote to pass a consumer protection safety bill (HB5908) between the House of Representatives and Senate to protect consumers and installers from the harmful affects of toxic spray foam insulation. Unfortunately for consumers and installers, Connecticut's Governor Malloy vetoed in err HB5908 by confusing a pending UFFI Bill which he reversed a former ban on making phenolic encapsulated foam insulation legal to be sold and installed again in Connecticut.

    http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/malloy-vetoes-first-bill-of-2013-would-have-required-regulations-and-safetycertification-standards-for-spray-foam-insulation/

    Pharos Project, Treehugger and the Hartford Courant (above) have written about my work with the state legislature on this subject matter. I testified before the General Law Committee for HB5908 and against HB05100 which in my opinion was manipulated to trick consumers into thinking this Bill 05100 CT HB05100 was written for their protection. I'm confident my testimony killed that Bill considering I was the only one present who testified in opposition and pointed out the legality issues associated with the Bills language. You bet the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance and the American Chemistry Council had something to do with that language knowing OSHA and the EPA do not have jurisdiction inside your home.

    http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/TOB/H/2014HB-05100-R00-HB.htm

    I know my posts can easily be read as a chemical conspirator, that's not my intention. It's only to inform those who are seeking answers. Did you know according to a source at the Department of Consumer Protection it's your own fault if your harmed by a building material when the research is readily available to you online? Yes, if you fail to take the initiative to learn about the product before you buy and your harmed, it's your own fault. I didn't know this when I hired my contractor to install toxic spray foam in my home and there was no data to be found online when I committed to purchasing this product. Now there is plenty. ;)

    Personally I learned some very hard lessons in life working with modern materials and I've known men harmed by these products which many people call safe. Simply stated, industry dismisses chemical toxicity as a workforce problem and not a consumer risk.
    In my opinion, I think the general public's lack of attention to things which matter have allowed manufacturer's to bring these toxins into our homes. We use more plastics and chemistry in our homes today then anytime in history. Smart builders are now coming to realize there is a very real problem with building products today. Hence...LEED, ASHRAE 62.2, USGBC and the many others who see there is real need for enforcement. That was until the American Chemistry Council infiltrated the system designed to protect you.

    Now there's another group coming forward labeled the WELL building standard. The standard, now being piloted in homes, offices, and hotel rooms, takes a proprietary set of health-focused design guidelines used by real estate developer Delos and attempts to codify and share them with the world. For a well justified substantial fee of course.

    With all of this said, there's more to building safer homes today then following yesterdays standards. There's substantial evidence that modern products are in fact harming people. Now it's our job as building professionals to find solutions mutually agreed upon to make these homes a safer place to live.

    PS AJ.... Carpenter Ants and Termites LOVE FOAM of all kinds! Maybe you would be interested in learning about agricultural spray foam which has all of the unwanted pesticides included into the matrix?

  86. Terry Lee | | #86

    Martin, I’m not going to waste my time reading any more GBA articles when I already know there is a lack of data and research with regard to PEX. Pointing to uncertainty is not the answer, if the PEX industry wanted to it could properly test the product before it released to the world. I say “industry” since that includes manufactures and regulations that obviously failed.

    I’ll repeat myself for you, the budget to properly test the “uncertainty” is not there. It would be in the billions, so, they ignore the proper regulations and testing and release the product for field testing for us to test and the results have not been good. I can tell you this since I have been in many telecoms where the manufacture has either stopped testing since they meet some limited spec, or, had budget constraints. In order to test HDPE to a 25 year life, a test environmental box would be set up with pressure lines, pumps, chemicals normally found in water supplies ( or the ones of concern for the materials(which is increased year after year for PEX) sun, wind, moisture, etc. The test is run continuously until a 25 year life is reached. The test is VERY expensive, most manufactures will not be able to afford. The test results are documented, the design should be installed in many prototype buildings around the globe and monitored. Those results taken back to the lab results and crosses checked adding even more expense. That is the PEX test I asked for in my last and previous post.

    That is the test of time that is available for copper, iron, stainless, for centuries now along with their mating materials such as ‘thermoplastic” compression and metal-to metal fitting’s, mechanical crimping, etc. I’m all for innovation as long as it has been properly test and determined safe. I’m not saying the metal industry followed this protocol, but we should learn from our mistakes.

    Add those plastic complexities to a water supply that is no better in many places you pointed to, now we are finding pharmaceuticals and plastics chemicals in water supplies. Add to that the uncertainty of PEX manufacturing that can change the base polymer structure to reduce manufacturing cost. We can heat metal to change its structure, but we cannot change it from one chemical family to another, a thermoplastic to a thermoset, pure copper to some other metal family that I know of anyway. We surface treat metal for protection or anneal it to control brittleness. Annealing so copper can be bent has been around for centuries, unlike cross-linking, it is not that complex, most any ma and pa manufacture can assure quality of metal manufacturing that dominates many industries. .

    PEX vulnerable point is the expanded end, just as flaring copper, it will experience a property knock down factor and will be prone to failure first, perhaps pitting and leaching just as a sweated copper or heavy metals are leached, analyzed and dealt with. Lead free solder helps, we need more PEX history since it did not undergo the proper testing.

    The electrolytic pitting or “stray current corrosion” is due to a lost ground. Again, people that don’t know what they are doing. Homeowners may find that a new plastic water filtration device or plastic repair union has interrupted the water pipe's electrical continuity to ground, when they start seeing pinhole water leaks after a recent install. Damage occurs rapidly, usually becoming obvious about six months after the ground interruption. Correctly installed plumbing appliances will have a copper bonding jumper cable connecting the interrupted pipe sections. Pinhole leaks from stray current corrosion can result in thousands of dollars in plumbing bills, and sometimes require the replacement of the entire affected water line. The cause is fundamentally an electrical defect, not a plumbing or material defect; once the plumbing damage is repaired, an electrician should promptly be consulted to evaluate the grounding and bonding of the entire plumbing and electrical systems. Stray current corrosion occurs because: 1) the piping system has been connected accidentally or intentionally to a DC voltage source; 2) the piping does not have metal-to-metal electrical continuity throughout its length; or 3) if the voltage source is AC, one or more naturally occurring minerals coating the pipe interior may act as a rectifier, converting AC current to DC . The DC voltage forces the water within the piping to act as an electrical conductor (an electrolyte). Electric current leaves the copper pipe, moves though the water across the nonconductive section (a plastic filter housing, for example), and reenters the pipe on the opposite side. Pitting occurs at the electrically negative side (the cathode), which may happen to be either upstream or downstream with respect to the water flow direction. Pitting occurs because the electrical voltage ionizes the pipe's interior copper metal, which reacts chemically with dissolved minerals in the water creating copper salts; these copper salts are soluble in water and wash away. Microscopic pits eventually grow and consolidate to form pin holes. When one is discovered, there are almost certainly more that have not yet leaked. Correcting the problem is a simple matter of either purchasing a copper bonding jumper kit, composed of copper cable at least #6 AWG in diameter and two bronze ground clamps for affixing it the plumbing. Correcting problems with plastic are either impossible or not that simple.

    Every time I look at the plastic industry more additives and ways to manipulate its molecular structure are being discovered, that are not properly evaluated adding to the complex risk. That’s great for some designs applications, the manufactures ability to make changes to structure (eg: cross-linkage) to some percentage, material composition at will. When I look at the metals manufacturing I don’t see a lot of changes in the chemicals or manufacturing processes that have been around for centuries, corrosion surface treatments more precisely. I’m not saying I know it all, but I’ve been around both metal and plastic design over thirty years, and the testing. Plastic have less understanding and less utilization in aircraft and auto, more in construction. That is changing rapidly as I said, but the difference is the big corporations have high dollar professionals making decisions homeowners, builder, plumbers, “advisors”, should not be making. The best advice is what I gave a long time ago, seek a local professional to help decide the best choice in extending the city system into your home. That Martin should be GBA’s advice, not it is ok to for you to decide since there is uncertainty anyway.

    Richard, I will not use any names, you did not have to put your resume out here for review or defend your post. Your expert advice and research is bluntly obvious by your post, unlike others that continue to cloud the subject matter with irrational unfounded non-sense!! I know you are trying to educate the people that are making stupid decisions, but until regulations are in place that forbid non-professionals (rather, engineers, chemist, sme’s) from making these decisions at the home level little will change. It is not any one professional’s analysis or opinion, it is industry wide knowledge and resolution as you pointed out, and as I said we are not equipped to determine.

    My eyes opened up when you pointed to fault and being an expert witness. I heard some are making a living out of testings against primes, subs...Homeowners are on their own. Advisors that advice off on the sidelines won’t be there when plumbers and builders make decisions to even pay the legal retaining fees, GBA reader beware. You better carry some E&O, have a corporation that is difficult to asset judge, be asset poor, couple million in insurance to settle up a health hazard suits you caused. Richard already pointed to “class action suits”. I knew the day would come that “on-line” knowledge would become and be viewed as a "standard" for legal industrial knowledge and prosecuting attorney. I can see the judge or jury thinking, you made your money by making decisions you should have hired a professional(s) for, or giving advice for something you lack understanding of. This industry is especially vulnerable due to the lack of corporate structure I described above. Law, always up for interpretation and development of new case law. Our company won’t be developing that case law by using PEX. We will ignore the lower installation cost and flexibility, save the potential legal fees. We have lunch with our attorney today, as I said, a good attorney with 'hold harmless" clauses for our plumbers to sign. can’t wait to discuss this. BTW: Every state is different when it comes to construction and liability laws, also read your CLP.

  87. Richard Beyer | | #87

    Great point on E&O insurance Terry. CLP does not cover workmanship error, product liability, gas, contamination and the list goes on. It's also contractor beware of who's selling you the wrong insurance.

  88. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #88

    Very little in this world is tested to the Terry Lee level, yet it surrounds us all and is usefully a part of the modern world.

    I am a builder. Live with all the supposed deadly materials 24 hours a day. My genes are pretty good. Family generally living into the 90's... 99 for grandma.

    No PEX deaths, leaks, stray electric, one stray cat, actually not stray, he just like hanging out at my place.... He likes water from PEX piping.

    Both of you toxic experts are trying to earn income from the supposed toxicity of things.

    And all the lawsuit yap.... That's as scary as the lawyer commercials with guys dialing a lawyer as they jump off scaffolding.... Death is less scary and I love death. It's painless for the dead. It's the survivors that feel the pain.

    Happy toxic trails gents.

    I'm with Martin, the natural world is much more deadly and toxic than our modern PEX world. Go drink only from ground water and see how that works out.

  89. Stephen E | | #89

    I agree that it is up to the consumer to know the information and use it as they will. I also believe its up to the governement in its public school to educate people. The lack of real knowledge being taught in the education system is appaling. Teaching both sides of arguements and finding information is lacking.

    Governement enforcement of a morality is laughable when the governement agencies are amoral. People having rights to decide based on their morality makes sense. Never like the government becoming a church. Laywers as the preachers. Education is the answer.

  90. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #90

    Richard, you don't carry E&O in your tile business. Contractors do not carry E&O. There is no market for homes that would include the cost. Do you guys know the cost of that insurance?

    Wcomp is already a disaster in added costs and lawyers. Libertarian talking now. We need public trades training and separated liability. Individual responsibility. Individuals should certify there up to date with their own safety knowledge and pay for their insurance needs.

    Lawyers. A new found source of income the courts Richard?

    Well I love the fact that I ultimately win upon death.

    Have a nice litigus day gents.

    Gotta go install some death shingles.

  91. Paul Conte | | #91

    Terry,

    Regarding "stray current corrosion" ...

    As I understand it, this phenomenon occurs when a "stray" current flows from some source to the copper pipe, travels along the pipe, and then flows from the pipe to the destination. Buried copper, being a better conductor in most cases than dirt, can be vulnerable where there are "stray" currents running through the ground, e.g., produced by old electric trolley systems.

    It's not clear to me how the typical above-ground residential copper pipe system would provide a path for a "stray" current. And, if it did, it would seem that wherever the current left the pipe system, the electrolytic corrosion would occur in any case. IOW, while bridging a copper pipe gap might remove one location of electrolytic corrosion, it wouldn't necessarily solve the problem.

    It seems to me that the issue is driven by whether or not any of the pipe is providing a path for a "stray" current. Are there common situations where this is the case?

    The document below has some interesting information re iron pipe, much of which would be applicable to copper, as well.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=18&ved=0CEwQFjAHOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dipra.org%2Fapp%2Fuploads%2FCorrosion-Control-Stray-Current.pdf&ei=iS9iVPvkHaTpiAKP-oCgDg&usg=AFQjCNEDejxfxMfnMAKUm3zN_giy8nrPNQ&sig2=EyUM0_UV34ogjdFdotHTQg&bvm=bv.79189006,d.cGE

  92. Richard Beyer | | #92

    AJ... There's nothing a 6 pack of beer and a pack of smokes can not fix, right?

    E&O fee's are based on your experience, claims made and the trade you are attempting to cover. Generally it can add $2-4K a year onto your current premiums depending on your risk. To answer your statement, it is affordable when the risk is present and you actually have something worth losing. If your asset poor, there's nothing to fear, right? Lawyers go where the money is.

    Terry,

    I thought about your conclusion that poor grounding is the source of pin holes. In fact the EPA published the below document about this issue. I find it interesting there's no mention of your theory. I took the sweat out of clicking the link for those who jump to conclusions before reading the attachment and pasted the most relevant comments made by the EPA below. ;)

    http://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/april2011/leaks.htm

    "EPA researchers are gathering data and conducting experiments in an effort to get to the root of this aptly-named, “pinhole leak” problem. Pinhole leaks result from a localized copper corrosion called pitting corrosion, but the causes of this form of corrosion are poorly understood."

    "It’s hard to predict and the mechanisms are difficult to sort out,”

    "Not all copper plumbing experiences pitting corrosion, but often an entire community can be found where pinhole leak problems are prevalent. Researchers have been investigating what exactly separates such a community from the surrounding areas that are not experiencing similar corrosion problems."

    " it is likely associated with water chemistry,”

    "Accordingly, researchers have been collecting water and pipe samples from both communities with pinhole leak problems and from nearby communities without. Using the data collected through these samples, as well as the documentation of full-scale case studies, researchers have compiled a database of corrosion distribution information and the associated water quality.

    Using this information to compare problematic waters with corrosion-free waters will not only allow scientists to identify the mechanisms of pitting corrosion, but also to identify possible solutions to these problems. For example, one case study near Cincinnati, OH involved two neighboring communities, both receiving water from the same main source, but one community had prevalent pinhole leak problems while the other did not.

    “We went to the community that doesn’t have a problem,” recalls Lytle, “and we found out the only difference is that they add a phosphate-based chemical for corrosion control, and the community that has a problem does not add phosphate.”

    "Conclusion"
    "The EPA-designed pipe-loop testing system offers the potential to provide a solution, giving water companies a low-cost early warning system for identifying water likely to lead to pinhole corrosion, and preventing homeowners from facing the damage and health risks that come from leaking pipes. Such pipe-loop testing systems could also help water companies to identify potential solutions for existing problems."

  93. Richard Beyer | | #93

    Again... NO mention of poor grounding as the cause for pitting in copper plumbing.

    EPA evidence suggests the following....

    Pitting Corrosion of Copper in High-pH and Low-Alkalinity Waters

    Copper pitting corrosion remains poorly understood despite a number of reports released in recent years. There have been cases of pitting in waters having:

    high pH,
    low alkalinity, and
    significant levels of sulfate and chloride.

    These materials may also cause pitting:

    aluminum,
    silica,
    total inorganic carbon.

    Orthophosphate has shown some promise as a corrosion inhibitor and reducer of pitting tendency of water.
    EPA continues to research pitting. EPA researchers are systematically investigating the effect of water chemistry, such as:

    pH,
    sulfate, and
    alkalinity or
    inorganic carbon and
    orthophosphate
    both localized and uniform.

    Figure 3. Experimental pilot-scale copper recirculation system.

    Uniform corrosion is identified by the presence of a relatively uniform layer of copper corrosion by-products across the inner surface of a pipe wall. It is typically associated with elevated copper levels at our taps.

    http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/wswrd/cr/corr_res_copper_ai2.html

  94. Richard Beyer | | #94

    Right when you thought you heard it all.... You can't make this stuff up!

    http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/tsca_21_petition_hfsa_2013-04-22.pdf

    "The action will simultaneously prevent hundreds of cases of lung and bladder
    cancer through the reduction in the amount of arsenic now being delivered to our citizens
    who drink water that is fluoridated with hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA)"

    Our petition asks that you exercise authority under section 6 of the TSCA, (15
    United States Code, Chapter 53, Section 2605), to prohibit the use of HFSA as a water
    fluoridation agent. A commercially available substitute, pharmaceutical grade sodium
    fluoride, delivers at least 100-fold lower levels of arsenic than does HFSA when water
    authorities choose to adjust their water supply to contain about 0.7 milligrams per liter of
    fluoride."

    I now see PEX and COPPER is the least of our worries after reading several research reports over water quality, plastics, resins, pipe failures and thanks to Terry copper pitting!

    This banter should rightfully be about how do we remove the impurities and chemicals added into our water by our local municipality rather than over the pipes in our homes. My conclusion is this.... even if we use the safest pipe commercially available we wasted our money if we do not treat the incoming water from the street.

    Sediment collection, Carbon adsorption and Reverse Osmosis is the answer at the tap?

    HAPPY VETERANS DAY & KEEP THE WATER FLOWING! ;)

  95. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #95

    No wonder you smoke and drink Buds Richard, you worry enough for all the billions of us. And you make money doing it.

    I'd rather build, I drink craft not Bud and would never smoke and have non smokers for friends, family sub's. I despise smoking, butts all over and those that worry. Exception for you as you have shared good tile knowledge.
    And builders cannot get O&E for 4 grand, maybe guys that lay squares can...

    Find me a policy worth buying for your 2 grand. I have never had a claim or a call back, most are ewith me for decades.

    We get this baby to a hundred pinhead posts and I'm dropping out.... Leave all the fun and toxins and lawsuits for the rest if you to play with... Enjoy your Camel's.

  96. Richard Beyer | | #96

    I'm enjoying your bantering AJ! To bad I'm like you in the sense I do not smoke (can't stand the odor) and I'm allergic to beer now! How great is that! I'm thinking you own a Camel for transportation? Lol

  97. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #97

    Three more inane posts and we can put this thread out of its misery. Where is Robert Riversong when you want a manly debatist?

  98. Terry Lee | | #98

    Just as AJ is not asked "how you are answering the OP" or of what value most of your corrosive post answer the original question, by GBA editor's and Martin (has to a buddy-follower political call) , copper is not immune to corrosion. In aircraft at the end of production the entire aircraft is subjected to a many test, HIRF (Highly Induced Reactive Fields), lightening, etc. I know that HIRF is difficult with a home, but, I'm surprised it is not part of the EPA investigations, or at least a consideration. After all we are talking about electro-chemistry.Perhaps all testing assumes a good ground I'd need to see the test plan. Pitting corrosion has never been easy to understand. Since plastic have a small charge it is not immune either, how metal-to-plastic fittings are cathode protected by direct ground will be an issue, a cathode field would solve or electrolytic solution such as conductive soils in ground applications. Back in the day, we embedded a wire mesh in plastic skins to ground, or used metal fasteners. These days there are metallic additives to ground, all plumbing is to ground. I would not practice attaching plastic fitting's to copper, unless you understand galvanic or local pitting corrosion just to eliminate the possibility. I'd keep copper out of highly corrosive soils too, unless encased in PE or other cathode protection.

    I'm no expert, I simple don't have the time. I'm thankful for the links Richard provides and some quality info GBA provides. I'm too busy designing-building. Martin, I highly suggest adding an ignore feature. I take my business seriously don't have time to weed through lots of junk AJ post, now in attempt to get the thread to 100. A joke here and there, fine, but your no site entertainer or comedian your actually quite annoying! I think your high as kite all day long, you can't have the time to build, as obvious by your many post.

    Very rewarding having the chance to be designer and builder. That unfortunately does not happen in corporate. Engineers should follow their designs, but often another is waiting. I would have gone to a SME by now in corporate, they have Material Engineer's and Chemist that specialize in metals and composites(plastics, etc) since the two are entirely different alone more less together in a water system with many chemicals...I'm not sure I'd worry too much about our water supply, as Martin pointed out, for the most part we live in a safe country. I've known chemist here that work everyday to stay on top of safe water, teams of chemist always analyzing. I imagine the addition of PEX and other plastic of the future has them on their toes.

    I don't know if 100 shuts the thread down seems to be AJs goal, so, to others, great discussion, to the quality contributors, thank you!

  99. Richard McGrath | | #99

    Told you long ago in this thread that flourides in our water are'nt good and that the stuff in the water was the problem , not the pipe . We always try to remove all the garbage that we can from the public water supply . Most homeowners don't go for the added equipment when they have city water , they trust the government . HA HA . Here is what we try to do for every house , http://mechanical-hub.com/langans
    Protect the occupants and the equipment the best we can . This is a city water home .

  100. Terry Lee | | #100

    Fluoride was once an industrial waste product if I remember right? Someone had the bright idea it cleans teeth. It was banned here. Sorry I had to be the 100 poster, beat AJ to it. :)..Now an e- bomb goes off or something?

  101. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #101

    Terry,
    You have it backwards. Fluoride does not clean teeth; rather, when present in high concentrations, it causes staining of teeth.

    Fluoride is not added to drinking water to clean teeth; its purpose is to prevent dental caries.

  102. Richard Beyer | | #102

    "Many communities add fluoride to their drinking water to promote dental health."

    "Exposure to excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may lead to increased likelihood of bone fractures in adults, and may result in effects on bone leading to pain and tenderness. Children aged 8 years and younger exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride have an increased chance of developing pits in the tooth enamel, along with a range of cosmetic effects to teeth.

    This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for fluoride. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with fluoride in drinking water."

    "What are EPA's drinking water regulations for fluoride?
    In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks and exposure over a lifetime with an adequate margin of safety, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG). Contaminants are any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances or matter in water."

    "EPA has also set a secondary standard (SMCL) for fluoride at 2.0 mg/L or 2.0 ppm. Secondary standards are non-enforceable guidelines regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic effects (such as skin or tooth discoloration) or aesthetic effects (such as taste, odor, or color) in drinking water. EPA recommends secondary standards to water systems but does not require systems to comply."

    http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/fluoride.cfm

    KEY WORD.... "NON-ENFORCEABLE"

    Standards without enforcement, only recommendations... Brilliant! Once again your on your own folks!

    "We The People" have created a government which is held unaccountable and the cronies who subject us to this nonsense, because everything is a "recommendation" designed to make you think there is an enforceable standard.

  103. Paul Conte | | #103

    Long story ... but for this discussion, here's the short version providing another "take away" (or I should say "stay away" regarding PEX water supply tubing. ...
    With the unusually wet Fall we're having in Central Oregon, our "semi-conditioned" (i.e., mostly sealed) below-grade crawlspace has developed some patches of feathery, white mold. Our project is not alone; and we, like other builders want to stay on top of this by remediating the existing mold. Once we're dried in (soon, hopefully), we can dehumidify, and we should be OK. No big deal.
    Except ... I don't recall if I mentioned that before I learned the full story on the service life of PEX, I followed the plumber's advice, and PEX was used for the below-subfloor distribution pipes. Rather than tear it all out, I figured I could live with the possibility of a failure that leaked into our graded and drained crawlspace.
    But I just got a response from Uponor that any anti-microbial with bleach would likely react badly with the PEX, and I should "wrap it." I think I have a better idea -- rip it out and replace it with copper. Who knows what I or a future owner may unwittingly use around the PEX that would "react badly."
    Pffft! This is not the kind of material that should be placed in the context of typical homeowners, since I doubt if many of them have a clue about how to baby the PEX to avoid problems.
    And who knows how many other construction projects have exposed PEX, wet weather; and the contractor ends up using the old DIY standard of spritzing bleach on mold to destroy it.

  104. Terry Lee | | #104

    Paul, our luncheon got cancelled with our attorney due to illness. I take it you are a homeowner. I was wanting to ask him with regard to knowledgeable industrial standards and practices created by the internet some courts are recognizing Richard mentioned, in our state, and perhaps fed, how does a knowledgeable homeowners such as yourself that are part of the discussions with builders and plumbers, play out. Since they are involved in the decision making process and design, does that make them part of the liability, meaning if you are harmed or die, you may not be able to point the finger at a plumber, builder, etc. You may be learning too much for your own good.
    I see this often with Real Estate Investors trying to save bucks by acting as GC, I warn them they don’t have to proper sub contracts in place, entity, insurance, etc…..Richard you ever seen a case like this? I would think it depends on state, but I would also think the homeowner is held liable in part 9 times out of ten. We document every communication with the homeowner, especially when it comes to potential harmful health decisions they are part of. We use fully disclosed plans, drawings, etc, they sign off on before work begins, supplements, etc, especially when they go against what we recommend.

    As I said, the chem treatment of plastics if far less understood than metal.

    Our local so call "energy guy" carries E&O I talked to that does not know what he is doing, little new builds, green builds, it is dirt cheap here. All plumbers should carry if you are making design decisions that affect public health.

    Lime lined rice earth bags rain water tank and bamboo pipe, green! : < )

  105. Terry Lee | | #105

    Our local so called "energy guy"guru with the most respect carries E&O I talked to that does not know what he is doing, little new builds, green builds, it is dirt cheap here compared to legal defense fees. All plumbers should carry if you are making design decisions that potentially affect public health.

  106. Paul Conte | | #106

    Terry, Hmmm. Not really sure how to parse the stream of consciousness posts. I will just say that I think it would be incredibly stupid to willfully stay uninformed and unengaged to preserve one's ability to sue. My visual image is of my hand reaching from the grave to grab the leg of some plumber cawing "you should have told me!"

  107. Richard Beyer | | #107

    Terry,

    I'm not an attorney, therefore your asking the wrong person. What I will say is the courts do not always see things through the eyes of either side of the argument.

  108. Terry Lee | | #108

    Paul, good point! As a client the industry has failed you. You not only pay a high price, you also have to spend alot of time in your own R&D.

    When you put your life in the hands of an aircraft or pilot you can rest assured the design and build has been bought off by educated and experienced professionals. You can not design unless you have a bachelor's at a min, senior level requires it and at least 15 years experience in design. There are stiff enforced regs and standards, QC engineers, and even with all that we have failures. Empirical data plays a large part in the design process, more metal than plastic.

    Most plumbers and builders can not afford to hire the proper professionals and still make a profit. I don't know what the answer is other than better design guides and standards. This case is complex due to the uncertainties of the water supply. One BIG part of design in having unknowns identified to design to, without them an engineer can't do their job more less a plumber.

    Richard, I gathered you are not an attorney. I was just wondering if you ran across case law. I'm not even sure what area of law this gets into, construction, personal injury, two different laws and attorney's. If you are a sole proprietor vs entity and that law. I've researched all the above extensively, read our state statues, case law, just not on potable water and internet knowledge. I'm here to tell you, don't expect a straight answer on any of from one single attorney. Richard is correct, law is written ambiguous and vaguely, so no matter how good an argument in the end a judge or jury decides, a place you don't want to be or chance to unknowns.

    When we can't predict future liability our attorney tells us to go see our insurance agent, the two work hand and hand. Some under the false impression that insurance is all you need. An entity protects in ways insurance does not. Read the insurance policy, another area of intentional cloudy writings. Laws do not require all exemptions since there are too many that can arise in construction situations. Trying to make sense out of CLP or WC is almost impossible. Again, don't expect a straight answer from any one agent, even after they call the underwriter.

    The biggest identified risk with copper is pitting corrosion, I would think it has the lowest risk based on copper being 99.9 % pure and highly non-corrosive. It would be next to impossible or at least difficult to compare since plastic do not have the same history, so I think until it does it is safe to assume the risk is lower.

  109. Terry Lee | | #109

    Some people think stainless in non-corrosive. Here the manufacture label pushes liability to the home owner if an inspection is not performed every 6 months, meaning tear down R&R as req'd. How many plumber inform their clients of regular maintenance, or, in most cases think it's no big deal don't worry about it, or just don't read the label and inform clients of the warning's. Take note of CA cancer and birth defect warning. Why is one of the poorest air quality states in America have better building regulations than most. Must be the law suits.

  110. Richard Beyer | | #110

    Terry,
    Like I said previously (after reading the EPA docs above), you have more to worry about what's being delivered to your home through your municipal pipes than box store plumbing parts. Here's something to ponder over... Reverse Osmosis delivers the purest water man can generate. Almost every residential system I have seen is constructed from.... wait for it... PLASTICS. How pure is that RO water now?

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-Reverse-Osmosis-Filtration-System-GXRM10RBL/202073853#product_description

    Here's the MSDS... Oh and it's made by who and where?
    "Baiguan battery Co"., Ltd, Shenzhen, China ;)

    http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pdfImages/73/73fcb9ee-beee-4aa7-818b-7933e9c17e8a.pdf

  111. Peter L | | #111

    Hasn't anyone learned it is a futile effort to argue with people who are conspiracy theorists and/or those with psychological problems?

    There was no need for this blog to have over 100 posts. Let him believe what he wants. You will not change his mind and are spinning your wheels trying to reason with him. People like that cannot be reasoned with. This whole discussion turns into a train wreck when you try.

  112. Terry Lee | | #112

    Hey Richard, I bought a winter work coat yesterday and the only ones available were Walmart, China, or Bangladesh at our local "Tractor Supply" with an American name brand "CE Schmidt" . I can rarely find American products anymore and some are so naive to believe they are held to higher manufacturing standards.

    Odd there is some lead (Pb) additive in that RO China machine.

    Goggle "RO World Health Report" on demineralized water, the removal can make some toxins worse. One can opt to depend on China to put them back in, or perhaps some "Black Mica" or vooboob! :)

    I am working a 1940 metal plumbing system remodel, nasty corrosion everywhere......end of life, low pressure in the sink is the next tear down.

  113. Richard Beyer | | #113

    I'm not sure who Peter is addressing with his "crazy" comment, but that's one of the best compliments anyone could receive.

    Crazy defines every entrepreneur out there. It's a mind set which sheep (followers) do not understand. Entrepreneurs do not fear judgement or failure. Crazy people scare men who are trapped in the University box of thinking. Crazy means your willing to risk it all to learn about everything others fear most. Sheep dream about it, crazy people make things happen. Crazy is as crazy does.....

    Terry,

    Why is it odd that products made in China contain lead when they follow their own rules? Remember those three EPA links I presented to you above? It's only a recommendation without enforcement.

  114. Terry Lee | | #114

    Some people are not educated or experienced enough to see that it’s not crazy to constantly identify hazards in potable water, building’s, imports, etc., it’s an on-going process in a fast forever changing industry, and other manufactured toxins in buildings. If you question their believe, or whom they follow (IE: Martin) they think you’re nuts and/or a conspirator. Let’s be thankful Martin and GBA does not think that crazy. The followers that cannot think for themselves, or outside the box, present no evidence why that is the case, there is no changing an erroneous or opinionated mindset in many cases even with fact. If you look at the industry, its monkey see monkey do for the most part, most homes have the same products with the same well known issues, proven and documented, little changes. Many installers do not disclose the hazards since they themselves are unaware, or ignore. I never seen an industry were all health hazards from a design or label or MSDS (IE: Stainless corrosions, lead content and UV protection in plastic, leaching, etc.), are not captured in single document and made available to homeowners.

    Perhaps there are some installers that fear the client disclosures and being questioned or viewed as being incompetent. In many industries, there are teams of professionals (Design Build Teams (DBT) or Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) to properly handle designs and disclosures like this. There is no one person or professional that knows it all, you become a dangerous designer if you think you know it all, which includes everyone. This mindset gets shot down in peer and design reviews and it becomes evident whom did not do the proper research and coordination with other members of the team. Sites like this are the DBT/IPT, unfortunately the internet where all kinds of errors and lack of communication exist. That’s crazy!

    The industry needs more Richards that constantly does the R&D and questions it, fights the regulators for better standards, unfortunately homeowners like J. Farocchia (op) and Paul that takes health matters into their own hands, attempts to identify the issues and makes them available to installers and homeowners on the internet.

    What I find crazy is the discussion even exist. I’ll repeat myself, non-professionals that were never schooled in basic engineering and chemistry have no business designing, especially systems that can affect health. As a matter of fact, you need an extensive background and the proper design tools. If that were the case, this site would not exist for the most part. In a crazy unsafe free for all industry like this, we should be thankful for sites like GBA that allows open unadulterated dialoged and values accurate information at any cost, AND as many post as required. It’s a vehicle for professional designers to communicate with homeowners, installers, the ones that are willing to share that design-build experience and knowledge others charge a premium for. If this industry were set up properly, all would focus on their specific jobs. Project Engineers would lead the R&D effort bringing in chemist and material tech pros as req’d. Installers would focus on builds with its share of complexities,maintenance, reliability, etc., they would have an input in the design but, would not be involved in complex engineering, chemistry they more than likely do not understand…The homeowner would not be involved in any of that other than aesthetics and some architectural preferences if they did not create a health hazard design-build issue.

    This thread has discussed the hazards of both metal and plastic, hybrids, there is no sales gimmicks or “conspiracy” obviously! It’s done a great job of identifying the issues, risk, of both metal and plastics. A solution is not clear to me.

    Richard did you read the issues with reverse osmosis? Here is another: I always find it interesting to see what the competition is saying: http://www.aqualiv.com/education/85-reverse-osmosis-water-filter-health

    Seems to me the best greenest resolution is at the facet?

  115. Terry Lee | | #115

    Here is a metal kitchen supply line I just pulled apart with facet pressure issues....you can see the galvanic corrosion, greed fungi mold, leaching into the water supply. City lines look like cased iron or steel....the stainless shut is welded to it and I'm afraid to pull it and break the city line. 65 years old. The copper inner wall looks good although small....I'll replace the lines with stainless, had the lines been all stainless, copper, iron or steel, of similar metal I don't believe there would be this much galvanic corrosion. The copper is definitely the cathode protection in this assembly, not the iron or steel that probably had a sacrificial cathode film or antioxidant. According to today's stainless manufactures this can happen in as little as 6 months. Scary to even wash dishes more less drink. I wouldn't give this to my dog to drink.

  116. Nate G | | #116

    for the benefit of the poor OP, how about this for a reasonable answer for the original question which plumbing system would be the longest-lasting and "greenest"?

    - Whole-house activated charcoal filter to remove chlorine and other contaminants that will damage the plumbing and possibly your health
    - Type K copper pipes
    - Lead-free solder
    - Low-zinc, lead-free fittings
    - Dielectric unions whenever different metals would otherwise contact one another

    This system will probably last 100 years or more. Notably, with the exception of the thicker pipes and the whole-house filter, this is more or less the standard copper job in any new construction house. Use the thicker pipes and add a filter and move onto the next terrifyingly toxic building material. :)

  117. Terry Lee | | #117

    Poor OP? Where did he go? Not one comment in 116? I often wonder where some of these OPs go? It's heart wrenching isn't it? ;)

    Type K is rated for underground, I'd stick with Type L or M and it's proven histroy and what the engineers engineered it for. Paul's concern for "erosion" should be replaced with pitting corrosion, more thickness will not solve. But I guess it does not hurt to have a buffer. I'd like to see a copper that eroded, or pitted through. Keep it out of corrosive soils or environments in a home which are rare.

    Lead free solders makes sense to me anyway, although there is argument about their ability to solder compared to tin-lead based, and some challenge leaching as a health hazard that has been linked.

    No need for low zinc fittings, more of need to mate zinc with zinc, copper with copper or brass is acceptable since it has a high copper content.

    Galvanic corrosion is the result of large differences in "anode index" brass and copper is very low in difference (.35, .40). Steel and iron due to alloys, high. Plastic are not inert due to fillers and additives. Plastics are used are isolators in dielectric unions, you don't have to search far to see corrosion build up in history, doubtful the design last 100 years without it.

    The best design I believe I pointed to over 100 post ago, is of similar anode index compatible materials of the same composition as possible. That is as green as it gets in MANY industries, why construction thinks it is exempt from the basic rules is mind boggling, for now, copper assemblies, until they create a high copper content plastic with brass fittings :)

    Now we just need a pure water supply and we're all set ;)

  118. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #118

    Uponor PEX is my favorite, and I use copper where applicable for my needs.

  119. Richard McGrath | | #119

    AJ, Contact me > dmcgrath40@comcast.net

  120. Peter L | | #120

    PLEASE! Someone show some humanity and kill this thread already. It's suffered long enough and after 3 pages of ranting, raving and conspiracy theories about PEX and how it causes cancer and diabetes, this thread needs to be put out of it's misery.

  121. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #121

    Peter what if the thread outlasts the 100 year lifetime of Uponor PEX? And also by then, Uponor might post and update stating 500 year lifetimes for their PEX....

    Stay tuned...

    Richard, glad to have you aiding me with my hydronic systems, thank you. Be nice to those that differ with you even though I too have a hard time following my own advice as most do.

  122. Flitch Plate | | #122

    I can't resist.

    Terry, that is disgusting. That shut-off valve is not green because of anything to do with the potability of the water running through it. It's green because that is a filthy dirty cabinet with mold due to the food particles and liquids running down the pipe and splashing over the valve. Look at the wall behind the valve. I would not let my dog go in that house. But I would probably let it drink the water. I bet the food waste garbage can is kept in (sic. thrown in) that space; right next to the caustic and corrosive chemicals..

  123. Jose Castro | | #123

    I use PPR (Polypropylene)
    It has great resistance to frost, I think it leaks nothing, and is great to work with (children love it, but be careful with burns). I guess it's the greenest also.

  124. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #124

    Jose,
    I think it's safe to say that the number of homes with polypropylene tubing are so small that you could count them on one hand. It is very, very rarely used.

    Here is a link to one of many articles that surveys different types of plastic tubing used for water supply pipes -- and you will notice that polypropylene is not mentioned: Plastic Plumbing Systems

  125. Richard McGrath | | #125

    PP is becoming very popular Martin and soon may make that list . It is very good pipe and for many who have vision will become very dominant in the market .

  126. Wayne Dauer | | #126

    Just to give my own humble opinion. Personally, I like PEX for hot water lines. I find it better for insulation and keeping the water hot in the system. Great to help with issues like delayed hot water in large houses and reduced efficiency because of all the heat lost to the outside while water runs through. I did a lot of research on PEX safety with hot water and I am satisfied.

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