What Causes Pipe Failures?

There are a variety of materials used in plumbing piping today; and depending upon when your plumbing system was designed, the materials in your existing system will vary. Failure of the plumbing system due to wear over time is a common challenge, which is especially pronounced in the lower mainland of British Columbia, where the water is acidic.

We commonly see a number of types of pipe failures. Once the cost of repairing and restoring the damage from pin-hole leaks becomes significant, re-piping the building is the financially appropriate solution to prevent future escalating damages, as well as increasing insurance premiums and deductibles.

Pin-hole leaks develop on copper piping over time due to erosion and pitting from the water. This is especially prevalent in the lower mainland of BC, where the water is particularly corrosive. Once pin-hole leaks start in a building, over the coming years, they tend to increase in number and severity.

Ten to fifteen years ago, there were several Hard Polymer (hard plastic) materials used in plumbing system design, as a substitute for copper, and some of these materials have produced a number of failures recently. There are a number of Hard Polymer materials used, some of which have had no issues, others of which have had a number of problems. The key commonality to these Hard Polymer Failures is that in addition to smaller leak failures like we see with copper piping, Hard Polymer piping can also fail with cracks which can be substantially more damaging. A single crack failure has the potential to create very costly water damage. Buildings with even a very small number of failures in a Hard Polymer Piping System should investigate whether a re-piping is a prudent longer term financial decision.

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