For years, home plumbing mostly consisted of copper pipes, but that has been changing quickly. Many plumbers and home builders have switched to using cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX, in their plumbing. PEX pipes are less expensive and longer-lasting than copper pipes, which is why they are used in 60 percent of new construction projects. However, the jury is still out on how safe these plastic pipes really are.
While PEX pipes and other forms of plastic plumbing do seem to be relatively safe at a glance, recent studies have suggested that there is a possibility of these pipes leaching chemicals into drinking water. One study published in Journal – American Water Works Association states that PEX pipes release “…more organic carbon as well as volatile and semi-volatile compounds” into water that passes through them. There did appear to be fewer of these contaminants in water after 30 days, but these findings were alarming to say the least. Many researchers have reported that there is a slight odor and distinct flavor of water that passes through these plastic pipes, which might suggest that this kind of plumbing may not be entirely safe.
So yes, it is possible for PEX pipes and other kinds of plastic plumbing to leach chemicals into drinking water, but the same thing can also be said about older lead pipes and the joints that are holding copper pipes together. Water that flows through traditional copper pipes or plumbing made from other kinds of metal is treated before it goes into people’s homes, and many homes rely on water filters to further purify the water that they use. The same thing can be done for PEX pipes and other kinds of plastic plumbing if it turns out that there is a leaching problem.
Plastic pipes in general and PEX in particular are fairly new, so there is still much we don’t know about them and whether or not they can make water unsafe to drink. For now, we can say that they are a safe and affordable alternative to copper and lead pipes.
If you have a newer home or one in which the plumbing has been updated recently and you are concerned about how plastic pipes could be affecting your own drinking water, don’t hesitate to contact the plumbers at HIS Plumbing. We have been providing plumbing projects of all kinds to our clients for nearly 20 years, and we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.