Al’s Plumbing Repairs or Replaces Water Pipes
One of the most common problems in DFW area slab leaks due to a cracked water pipe. This often results due to slab-foundation movement. The clay soil in DFW shrinks and expands to a great degree, based on its moisture content. This causes the slab to move upward (when the clay is wet and expanding) and move downward (when the clay is dry and shrinking).
As a result of uncontrolled slab movement, slab cracks or heaving can occur. In DFW, water pipes are below the slab of the home and are fastened to the slab in places. Slab failures create tremendous pressure on water pipes, which can cause them to crack or burst.
Examples of damaged slabs which can break a water pipe which is attached under the slab.
AL’S TIP: To reduce slab movement, it’s important your home have rain gutters with downspout extensions directing water 2 or more feet away from the home’s foundation. Secondly, the foundation needs to be “watered” in the summer to keep moisture levels consistent. To learn more about minimizing slab movement see our page slab leak detection and repair.
Al’s Plumbing can repair water pipes by removing and replacing the section of pipe which has cracked. For an old home, Al’s can replace all of the water pipes if needed.
When replacing water pipes, Al’s uses “Tunneling” instead of breaking open the home’s slab. We dig a trench under the home and do all repairs from under the home.
Common Types of Water Pipes Used in Homes
There are several types of water pipes used in homes, based on the home’s age.
Galvanized or zinc-coated steel pipes appear thick and heavy with a gray or silver metallic exterior. If your home was built between 1930s and 1980s, it’s common to find galvanized pipes.
Since steel pipe is naturally heavy, it’s more difficult to work with than other pipe materials, and although it’s very durable, galvanized steel does have a limited lifespan. The zinc coating can eventually break down and cause the pipe to rust internally, which may lead to reduced water pressure and clogged lines.
Copper pipes are most in homes built from the 1960s to present. Copper plumbing is typically thin walled, making it smaller in diameter than steel pipe. Over time, oxidation might change copper pipes from their original reddish hue to a dark brown or green.
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly called PVC, can be found in homes built from the 1950s to present. PVC generally looks white. It is a hard plastic with distinctive markings along the length. These markings identify the type of PVC and its temperature rating and diameter.
Cross-linked polyethylene, commonly know as PEX pipe, has become the standard for home plumbing since the late 1990s. Most homes use red tubing for hot water supply lines and blue tubing for cold water supply lines. PEX typically features a slight natural curve because it’s packaged in a coil. Similar to PVC pipe, PEX displays identifying markings and there is no worry of rust or corrosion.
Polybutylene (PB) was a plastic manufactured between 1978 and mid 1995. Pipes made from polybutylene were installed in up to 10 million homes in the Unites States. Production of polybutylene stopped in mid-1996 after scores of allegations surfaced claiming the pipes were rupturing. In homes that still have this material, homeowners must either have the pipes replaced, or risk a potentially expensive plumbing failure.
Why Does Polybutylene Fail?
On average, poly pipes take between 10-15 years to show signs of severe deterioration. The water the pipes were designed to carry causes the problems. All public water supplies contain oxidants such as chlorine and fluoride used to purify the water. These oxidants react with the polybutylene pipe and fittings. This causes them to scale and become brittle, this causes them to weaken the structure and cause micro-fractures.
Polybutylene Pipes Should Be Replaced
Although no regulations require replacement of polybutylene piping, many plumbers recommend doing this. Leaking can happen without warning, resulting in serious damage to the home. PB pipes which are installed behind sheetrock can leak unnoticed for long periods of time causing water damage and mold which may affect the health of those living in the home.
It is far cheaper to replace polybutylene pipes before they fail. The presence of polybutylene pipes can also reduce a home’s value or extend its selling-time on the market. Homeowners might face higher insurance premiums, or be denied coverage entirely, due to the presence of Polybutylene water supply pipes.
Polybutylene pipes are:.
- usually stamped with the code “PB2110”;
- flexible and sometimes curved
- most commonly grey in color, but they can also be white, silver, black or blue. Blue PB is used primarily outdoors for cold water lines.
- not used for waste, drain or vent piping
Polybutylene Pipe with Micro-Fracture
Polybutylene pipes can be in a home’s interior or exterior in any of the following locations:
- protruding from walls to feed sinks and toilets
- near the water heater
- at the water meter;
- at the main water shut-off valve.
Note: Other safe piping materials, not to be confused with PB:
PEX This form of polyethylene may be black, but is blue and red in most homes.
PVC: A popular building material used in residential plumbing which appears white or off-white.
Polyethylene: More commonly used for waste-lines than water supply. This material is black.