“Over time the CPVC is becoming brittle and cracking, so I not any longer apply it,” he says. “Occasionally I need to use it on the repair as soon as the system already has it inside, but I don’t use CPVC for repipes anymore.”
Grzetich will not be alone. Though still an accepted material for piping, CPVC is losing favor with a few plumbers since they encounter various issues with it while at work. They are saying it’s less dependent on if issues will occur however when.
“On some houses it lasts quite quite a long time before it gets brittle. Other houses, I feel it provides more to do with temperature and placement of your pipe than anything,” Grzetich says. “But after a while, any sort of CPVC will get brittle and finally crack. And when it cracks, it cracks very good and then you’re getting a steady flow water from it. It’s nothing like copper where you get a leak inside and it just drips. Once CPVC cracks, it is going. I had been at a house a few days ago, and then there were three leaks inside the ceiling, all from CPVC. And once I tried to repair them, the pipe just kept cracking.”
Sean Mayfield, a master plumber doing work for Water heater replacement Missouri City, Colorado, says in the work he encounters CPVC piping about 20 % of the time.
“It’s approved to put in houses, having said that i think it’s too brittle,” he says. “If it’s coming out of the floor and you also kick it or anything, there is a good chance of breaking it.”
He doesn’t apply it repiping and prefers copper, partly due to craftsmanship involved in installing copper pipe.
“I’m a 25-year plumber and so i choose to use copper. It genuinely needs a craftsman to get it in,” he says. “Not everybody can sweat copper pipe and then make it look great and then make it look right.”
But like a less costly alternative to copper that doesn’t carry some of the problems related to CPVC, Mayfield, Grzetich and also other plumbers say they generally consider PEX mainly because it allows more leeway for expansion and contraction, as well as posesses a longer warranty than CPVC. For Mayfield and Grzetich it’s just as much about the simplicity of installation as it is providing customers something that is certainly not as likely to cause issues in the long term.
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“A great deal of it boils down to budget, yes, and also if you’re performing a repipe on the finished house where you need to cut the sheetrock and everything, it’s always easier just to do it in PEX since you can fish it through as an electrical wire,” Mayfield says. “It cuts the labor down for sure.
“And CPVC uses glue joints that set up for a certain amount of time,” he adds. “With the PEX, you only make the grade having a plastic cutter, expand it with a tool and place it spanning a fitting. It’s a lot less labor intensive with regards to gluing and drilling holes. Gluing on CPVC, you need to glue every joint. Whereas PEX, you might probably run 30 or 40 feet than it through some holes and also you don’t have any joints.”
Any piping product will be vunerable to problems if it’s not installed properly, but Mayfield notes that CPVC carries a smaller margin for error than PEX since it is a much more rigid pipe that has a tendency to get especially brittle as time passes.
“If a plumber uses CPVC and it is, say, off by half an inch on his or her holes, they’ll have to flex the pipe to obtain it in a hole,” he says. “It is going to be fine for quite some time and after that suddenly, due to the strain, build a crack or leak. Everything must be really precise around the measurements with CPVC. Then it’s yet another little nerve-wracking to work on because by taking an angle stop that’s screwed onto CPVC and you’re using two wrenches, you more often than not flex the pipe slightly. You’re always concerned with breaking the pipe because it’s brittle.”
“We did a house in the new subdivision – the house was only 6 yrs old – and we had to replumb the entire house mainly because it is at CPVC. We actually finished up doing three other jobs from the same neighborhood. After that, the initial repipe we did is at CPVC because we didn’t know what else to make use of. Then again we investigated it and found a better product.”
“I’ve done about 20 repipes with Uponor. I’ve had zero callbacks, zero issues,” he says. “I make use of it over copper usually. The only time I take advantage of copper is for stub-outs so it will be look nice. Copper is still a really good product. It’s just expensive.
“I do know plumbers who still use CPVC. Many people just stick to their old guns and once something such as Uponor arrives, they wait awhile before they begin utilizing it.”
But based on Steve Forbes of Priority Plumbing in Dallas, Oregon, CPVC may still be a trusted material for any plumbing system as long as it’s installed properly.
Within a blog on his company’s website, Forbes writes about some of the concerns surrounding CPVC, noting that in his experience, CPVC pipe failures are related to improper installation in most cases affect only hot-water lines.
“CPVC will expand when heated, and if the program is installed that will not permit the hot-water lines to freely move when expanded, this may produce a joint to fail,” he says. “Each instance I actually have observed was as a result of an improperly designed/installed system.”
Based on 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 very important for very long runs of pipe as a way to accommodate that expansion.
“I believe that the situation resides in this many plumbers installed CPVC exactly like copper, and failed to allow for the additional expansion and contraction of CPVC systems,” Forbes says within his blog. “If the piping is installed … with plenty of variations in direction and offsets, expansion and contraction is not an issue.”
Forbes does acknowledge that CPVC will get brittle, and additional care must be taken when wanting to repair it. Still, he stands behind the merchandise.
“CPVC, if properly installed, is nice and is not going to need to be replaced,” he says. “I repiped my own house with CPVC over a decade ago – no problems.”
Most of the time though, PEX is starting to become the material of preference.
In his Los Angeles service area, Paul Rockwell of Rocksteady Plumbing says CPVC plumbing is rare.
“Sometimes you can see it in mobile homes or modular homes, having said that i can’t imagine a foundation home that I’ve seen it in, from the 10 years I’ve been working here,” he says. “I don’t know why it’s not around here. We used a lot of it doing tract homes in Colorado within the 1990s as i was working there.”
Copper and PEX are what Rockwell in most cases encounters within his work. He typically uses Uponor PEX on repiping jobs.
“PEX is nice because you can snake it into places and you don’t have to open as many walls as you may would with copper,” he says. “If somebody stumbled on me and desired to conduct a copper repipe, I’d dexspky68 it but it will be 2 1/2 times the price of a PEX repipe just because of the material as well as the extra time. So it’s pretty rare that somebody asks for that.”
In his limited experience working together with CPVC, Rockwell says they have seen exactly the same issues described by others.
“The glue will take an especially very long time to dry and I do mostly service work so the thought 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 over time. I don’t have a lot of knowledge of it, but even though it were popular here, I believe I would personally still use PEX over CPVC. Given that it’s installed properly, I haven’t seen any issues with it.”