How to choose best pipes for your home

Save money by choosing the right pipes

HOUSTON - Water is our best friend during the summer, but not when it's leaking through our pipes. Replacing those pipes can mean breaking down walls or tearing up the floor.

No one wants to deal with that, but Angie Hicks, creator of the service referral website Angie's List, told Local 2 that doesn't mean you can forget about them.

"One of the best times to check the pipes in your house is when you are remodeling your kitchen or bathroom because at that point you'll likely have the floors and the walls exposed, so it will be very easy to check," Hicks said.

Even if you are not remodeling this summer, it's a good time to check to see if your pipes are damaged because Hicks said now there are more and even cheaper options out there when it comes to replacing the pipes in our home.

"Consumers have many choices when it comes to pipes for their houses these days -- whether they use copper or cross-linked polyethylene, called PEX. The important thing when considering your options is to talk to a licensed plumber so they can give you all the pros and cons, " Hicks said.

Plumber Lance Smith points out switching from copper to PEX is a simple and easy task and the best part, PEX costs half the amount of copper.

"Your average cost per foot for three-quarter-sized copper is between $2.50 to $3, where as PEX is between 50 cents to $1.50 for the same size piping. So it's almost half as much less for the material," Smith said.

Smith advised homeowners to be on the lookout for certain symptoms to know when it's time to focus attention on the pipes.

"One symptom is loss of pressure and also, you can start to see what we call stalactites or corrosion around fittings that would be another indication that it is time for a piping replacement," Smith said.

Hicks said make sure when the time comes, you're asking all the right questions.

"Ask them questions such as, 'How long will the pipes last? How will it be installed? And even, how energy efficient are they?'" Hicks said.

What you can and can't use concerning pipes varies from different locations so make sure to check local building codes.

Plumbers who use the PEX pipes have to be certified by the product manufacturer. If it's not installed properly, the warranty could be voided.

Replacing Pipe Hit List Tips:

· Hire a reputable plumber: When hiring a plumber, especially for an expensive project, make sure the plumber you hire is fully qualified and licensed in your state. get at least three written estimates from three different plumbers for your job.

· Ask questions: To ensure the piping system is the right fit, ask the plumber a few questions such as: what material options are best for my situation? How will it be installed? How long will the piping last? Are some systems more energy efficient that others? What are the costs? How long is the warranty?

· Are you certified? Plumbers working with PEX should be certified by the product manufacturer. Should the product not be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions, the warranty could be voided.

· Check local code: Codes specify which plumbing pipe and fitting materials are approved and codes vary depending on where you live.

· Is it time to replace your pipes? A few warning signs include a loss of water pressure or corrosion around fittings. Get an inspection if your home was built in the '50s or '60s and still has all original piping. Whenever you have walls and floors exposed (for example, during a kitchen or bathroom remodel), have your pipes inspected.

Types of Pipe:

· Copper: Most widely used, but more costly than plastic pipe. Long history of reliability, has an average life of about 50 years. Copper takes the most time and skill for installation. prone to burst following a freeze.

· CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride): A common plastic piping that is easy to install and inexpensive, but can be brittle and crack as soon as it freezes.

· PEX (cross-linked polyethylene): Alternative for areas too small or tight for copper and CPVC pipes. Quick and easy to install and lightweight and flexible. Verdict is still out on how long it will last - has only been used for about 10 years.

· The different pipe types can all be connected together, in the event just a section of the pipe needs replaced.

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