“Over time the CPVC is becoming brittle and cracking, and so i no longer utilize it,” he says. “Occasionally I have to use it on the repair as soon as the system already has it in there, nevertheless i don’t use CPVC for repipes anymore.”
Grzetich is not alone. Though still an accepted material for piping, CPVC is losing favor with many plumbers while they encounter various problems with it while at work. They claim it’s less a matter of if issues will occur however, when.
“On some houses it lasts quite a long time before it gets brittle. Other houses, I believe it has more concerning temperature and placement of your pipe than anything,” Grzetich says. “But as time passes, any type of CPVC will probably get brittle and finally crack. And when it cracks, it cracks pretty good and then you’re going to get a steady stream water out of it. It’s not like copper where you get yourself a leak inside it plus it just drips. Once CPVC cracks, it is. I had been at a house yesterday, and there were three leaks in the ceiling, all from CPVC. And whenever I attempted to correct them, the pipe just kept cracking.”
Sean Mayfield, a master plumber working for Whole House Repipe Missouri City, Colorado, says in their work he encounters CPVC piping about 20 % of the time.
“It’s approved to put in houses, but I think it’s too brittle,” he says. “If it’s coming out of a floor and also you kick it or anything, you have a pretty good possibility of breaking it.”
He doesn’t apply it for repiping and prefers copper, partly due to the craftsmanship associated with installing copper pipe.
“I’m a 25-year plumber therefore i choose to use copper. It actually needs a craftsman to place it in,” he says. “Not everybody can sweat copper pipe and make it look really good and then make it look right.”
But like a less expensive alternative to copper that doesn’t carry a number of the problems associated with CPVC, Mayfield, Grzetich and other plumbers say they frequently choose PEX as it allows more leeway for expansion and contraction, and in addition comes with a longer warranty than CPVC. For Mayfield and Grzetich it’s just as much about the ease of installation because it is providing customers a product or service which is less likely to cause issues eventually.
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“A lots of it comes down to budget, yes, and also if you’re performing a repipe on the finished house where you have to cut the sheetrock and everything, it’s always easier just to make it happen in PEX since you can fish it through such as an electrical wire,” Mayfield says. “It cuts the labor down beyond doubt.
“And CPVC uses glue joints that create for some time,” he adds. “With the PEX, you merely make the grade using a plastic cutter, expand it with a tool and put it more than a fitting. It’s significantly less labor intensive in terms of gluing and drilling holes. Gluing on CPVC, you need to glue every joint. Whereas PEX, you can probably run 30 or 40 feet of it through some holes so you don’t have joints.”
Any piping product will likely be prone to problems if it’s not installed properly, but Mayfield notes that CPVC includes a smaller margin for error than PEX as it is a far more rigid pipe that appears to get especially brittle as time passes.
“If a plumber uses CPVC and it is, say, off by half an inch on their holes, they’ll have to flex the pipe to obtain it inside a hole,” he says. “It will be fine for a long time after which suddenly, due to strain, establish a crack or leak. Everything needs to be really precise in the measurements with CPVC. Then it’s another little nerve-wracking to work on because through taking an angle stop that’s screwed onto CPVC and you’re using two wrenches, you typically flex the pipe somewhat. You’re always concerned about breaking the pipe because it’s brittle.”
“We did a home inside a new subdivision – your house was just 6 years old – and we needed to replumb the entire house mainly because it was in CPVC. We actually finished up doing three other jobs in the same neighborhood. Afterward, the very first repipe we did was in CPVC because we didn’t know what else to make use of. However we looked into it and discovered a much better product.”
“I’ve done about 20 repipes with Uponor. I’ve had zero callbacks, zero issues,” he says. “I use it over copper usually. The only time I take advantage of copper is made for stub-outs making it look nice. Copper remains to be an excellent product. It’s just expensive.
“I do know plumbers who still use CPVC. A lot of people just stick with their old guns and once something like Uponor is released, they wait awhile before they start using it.”
But in accordance with Steve Forbes of Priority Plumbing in Dallas, Oregon, CPVC may still be a trusted material for any plumbing system given that it’s installed properly.
Within a blog on his company’s website, Forbes writes about a few of the concerns surrounding CPVC, noting that in their experience, CPVC pipe failures are based on improper installation and in most cases affect only hot-water lines.
“CPVC will expand when heated, of course, if the device is installed that is not going to allow the hot-water lines to freely move when expanded, this will cause a joint to fail,” he says. “Each instance I have observed was as a consequence of an improperly designed/installed system.”
As outlined by CPVC pipe manufacturer Lubrizol, CPVC will expand about an inch for every single 50 feet of length when put through a 50-degree temperature increase. Offsets or loops are crucial for long runs of pipe as a way to accommodate that expansion.
“I feel that the problem resides in this many plumbers installed CPVC the same as copper, and failed to provide for a further expansion and contraction of CPVC systems,” Forbes says within his blog. “If the piping is installed … with sufficient modifications in direction and offsets, expansion and contraction is no problem.”
Forbes does acknowledge that CPVC could get brittle, and further care ought to be taken when attempting to repair it. Still, he stands behind this product.
“CPVC, if properly installed, is useful and is not going to have to be replaced,” he says. “I repiped my own, personal house with CPVC over 10 years ago – no problems.”
More often than not though, PEX is now the material associated with preference.
In their Southern California service area, Paul Rockwell of Rocksteady Plumbing says CPVC plumbing is rare.
“Sometimes the thing is it in mobile homes or modular homes, having said that i can’t imagine a foundation home that I’ve seen it in, in the fifteen years I’ve been working here,” he says. “I don’t know why it’s not around here. We used a variety of it doing tract homes in Colorado inside the 1990s as i was working there.”
Copper and PEX are what Rockwell usually encounters within his work. He typically uses Uponor PEX on repiping jobs.
“PEX is nice since you can snake it into places so you don’t ought to open as many walls when you would with copper,” he says. “If somebody came to me and wanted to execute a copper repipe, I’d dexspky68 it but it would be 2 1/2 times the price of a PEX repipe just as a result of material and the additional time. So it’s pretty rare that somebody asks for the.”
In his limited experience dealing with CPVC, Rockwell says he has seen the same issues described by others.
“The glue tends to take an especially very long time to dry and so i do mostly service work so the notion of repairing CPVC and waiting hours for that glue to dry isn’t very appealing,” he says. “And I’ve seen it get pretty brittle after a while. I don’t have a huge amount of knowledge about it, but even though it were popular here, I think I might still use PEX over CPVC. Given that it’s installed properly, I haven’t seen any troubles with it.”