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Old 09-20-2011, 04:34 PM   #1
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PVC vs. Copper from Water Meter


I'm planning to re-pipe my home and replacing the 84 year old galvanized with copper. I don't have any leaks but I get some of rusty crusty sediment every few months that clogs the faucet particle filter.
I have been talking to a couple of plumbers and one guy said that if I wanted to save money, I could dig the trench from the house to the meter by myself and also use PVC pipe. I don't mind digging to save money but I do not want to use incorrect or non-recommended materials.
I didn't know if using schedule 40 PVC is legal or good practice. I do know that buying 30 feet of 1" PVC will be less expensive than 30 feet of 1" type-L copper.
I'm also concerned that if use plastic piping, should I run a ground wire from my pipes to the meter since I will break electrical continuity between my pipes and the meter.

Any help, advice or guidance will be appreciated.
Thanks in advance, VC

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Old 09-20-2011, 05:27 PM   #2
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PVC vs. Copper from Water Meter


You need to check with your local water utility about what type of material is allowed between the street and your house. They may have requirements. In some communities, only the utility provider can make the connection. As for grounding, it is certainly true that grounding to a plastic water line is not a ground at all, so if you replace a copper line that has a ground strap on it with a plastic line, you are certainly going to need to install ground rods at the meter in accordance with local electrical practice, if they are not currently installed.

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Old 09-21-2011, 12:09 AM   #3
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Copper is the most expensive way to repipe your house. I think Cali approves PEX, go with that. Including from the meter. That and a new ground rod.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:01 AM   #4
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Copper is the most expensive way to repipe your house. I think Cali approves PEX, go with that. Including from the meter. That and a new ground rod.
We haven't been using pex for our main water services yet, but I really think it's a great idea. Still using schedule 40 pvc.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:06 PM   #5
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Use of PEX inside the house is generally covered under the State plumbing code. I believe that in many jurisdictions, state plumbing code does not apply to utilities, which have their own regulations. As usual, it is essential to check with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) about what materials are permitted, who can do the work, and what the specifications are for the work.
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Old 09-22-2011, 05:39 PM   #6
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Copper is the most expensive way to repipe your house. I think Cali approves PEX, go with that. Including from the meter. That and a new ground rod.
I'm not too concerned about price. I'm not rich but I can afford to re-pipe the house in copper because I have plumber who is giving me a good deal since I'm going to help.

Regardless, this PEX sounds interesting. I would only be interested in using it for my main service feed. I read that PEX should not be exposed to sunlight. If were to use it for my main service feed, there would be one point where I come up to penetrate the side of the house and that section could be exposed to sunlight.

I like the idea of using schedule 40 PVC. I gotta check with the local utility to see if is acceptable. I live in Santa Clara, CA.

Thanks guys for the advice, VC
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:58 PM   #7
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PVC vs. Copper from Water Meter


I agree with checking with the local AHJ first. You may want to take into consideration the soil conditions which the piping will be put into. Around here we have a large amount of what we call "pea gravel", tiny rocks within the soil. Schedule 40 PVC is permitted here for the main from the meter to a residence, not commercial though. BUT-we have found that after some 10-15 years of the PVC being in the soil with this pea gravel, that the pea gravel will rub a tiny hole in the PVC. It is highly recommended here to place the PVC within a layer of sand to protect it from being "rubbed" by the pea gravel. PEX is not permitted here as the main supply line, only used within the residence.
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:06 AM   #8
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PVC vs. Copper from Water Meter


Quote:
Originally Posted by Thurman
I agree with checking with the local AHJ first. You may want to take into consideration the soil conditions which the piping will be put into. Around here we have a large amount of what we call "pea gravel", tiny rocks within the soil. Schedule 40 PVC is permitted here for the main from the meter to a residence, not commercial though. BUT-we have found that after some 10-15 years of the PVC being in the soil with this pea gravel, that the pea gravel will rub a tiny hole in the PVC. It is highly recommended here to place the PVC within a layer of sand to protect it from being "rubbed" by the pea gravel. PEX is not permitted here as the main supply line, only used within the residence.
I will check with local AHJ. I stopped by the local commercial piping and plumbing store today to get pricing for some schedule 80 PVC and the CPVC. The schedule 80 pipe is heavier duty and should last longer and resist the problems that you mentioned about the pea gravel. We don't have a pea gravel problem here. We have earthquakes instead.
Does any one have any opinion about using schedule 80 PVC or CPVC. The 1" schedule 80 cost $.73/foot and the CPVC costs $1.99/foot.

Thanks, VC
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:31 AM   #9
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I wouldn't put CPVC in the ground ever personally. Can you do it? Maybe. I sure wouldn't.
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Old 09-25-2011, 04:08 AM   #10
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I wouldn't put CPVC in the ground ever personally. Can you do it? Maybe. I sure wouldn't.
Hi Alan,

Just out of curiosity. Why no CPVC underground?

I've attached a couple of photos of my water meter. There is a 3/4" pipe running from my meter to the house. It appears to be galvanized pipe. The nut on the end confuses me. It look like some kind of compression fitting.

I want to run a 1" PVC pipe from the meter to the house. I'm curious to hear a couple of suggestions about how connect the new 1" PVC pipe to the meter and if there are any problems that will occur by upsizing my main water service line diameter. My plumber said that most of the repipe jobs that he does involves upsizing the pipe. any help or advice will be appreciated. Thx, VC

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Old 09-25-2011, 07:20 AM   #11
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PVC vs. Copper from Water Meter


I don't know its technical name, but around here the connection from the meter to the house or, in my case, from the well to the house, is made using black flexible pipe that comes in rolls. It's less expensive and easier to work with. I don't think PVC or CPVC would fare well in an earthquake-prone environment.
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:13 AM   #12
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PVC vs. Copper from Water Meter


vcheez,

The nuts in the picture are union nuts. Specific thread to match the meter, sealed with a rubber washer. The entire unit is called a tailpiece. At the other end of the tailpiece (going through the box) is the threaded end, likely 3/4" MIP.

To join your new pipe, would simply need an adapter for whatever you're threading in (ie. 1" PVC pipe, use a 3/4" thread by 1" slip female adapter).

In our municipality, we typically use a black HDPE pipe we call municipal tubing, similar to PEX.

Call your local water department and ask them their opinion. They'll know what materials are the most reliable in your area and what's legal as well.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:14 AM   #13
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I don't know its technical name, but around here the connection from the meter to the house or, in my case, from the well to the house, is made using black flexible pipe that comes in rolls. It's less expensive and easier to work with. I don't think PVC or CPVC would fare well in an earthquake-prone environment.
If it's black, it may be polybutylene, a material that got a bad reputation in the 1980s due to poor manufacturing quality that resulted in a huge class action lawsuit that put the main manufacturer out of business. It could also be High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is good stuff.

I live in earthquake country and my water service from the meter to the house is 1 inch Schedule 40 PVC. It works fine. In fact, it's better than copper, because we have very hard water here that is known to destroy copper pipes in a few years. Consequently, our local plumbing codes require Type "L" copper as a minimum, even above ground. PVC is fairly flexible, so it will give a bit with soil movement. Any soil movement large enough to damage PVC will also damage galvanized iron and copper lines. In fact, if there is local shear in the soil, it's most likely because the house is (was) located directly over the fault, and any movement sufficient to rupture the buried water line will most likely flatten the house, too.

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Old 09-26-2011, 09:46 AM   #14
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PVC vs. Copper from Water Meter


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Originally Posted by vcheez View Post
I want to run a 1" PVC pipe from the meter to the house. I'm curious to hear a couple of suggestions about how connect the new 1" PVC pipe to the meter and if there are any problems that will occur by upsizing my main water service line diameter. My plumber said that most of the repipe jobs that he does involves upsizing the pipe. any help or advice will be appreciated.
I did exactly what you're contemplating about 10 years ago. The brass tailpiece coming out of the 3/4" meter ended in a male pipe thread. I added a brass 3/4" x 1" reducer (bell) at the end of the tailpiece, then screwed in a a PVC 1" MPT x 1" Slip fitting, using about 5-6 turns of Teflon plumber's tape, and the 1" Schedule 40 PVC pipe was cemented into it. For long-term reliability, a male PVC thread should be screwed into a female metal fitting, so that the plastic is in compression. Screwing a female PVC fitting onto metal puts the plastic under tensile stress, and it can crack over time. The galvanized pipe that it replaced had a bend in it to negotiate a change of grade from the meter to the house. Since the PVC line was flexible, it was not necessary to bend it; a gentle curve was sufficient. (If you're going to bend the PVC run, it is actually better to cement the MPT x Slip fitting onto the end of the first length of pipe and let it cure for 30-60 minutes before screwing it into the brass reducer.) As the PVC pipe leaves the brass tailpiece from the meter, it should have zero angle to (1) avoid putting asymmetric stress on the rubber washer in the union at the meter, which will eventually cause a leak, and (2) avoid stressing the thread of the MPT x slip adapter, as the threads act as stress risers and will likely cause the adapter to fail at the thread eventually.

I could have used 3/4" PVC, since my service from the city's water main is only 3/4", but I wanted to lower the dynamic pressure drop between the meter and the house, so I chose to step up to the next larger standard pipe size.

When using Teflon tape to seal threaded PVC joints, I've found that at least 5 turns are needed, especially when transitioning between metal and plastic. If one uses only 3-4 turns, the joint is likely to leak.

Bear in mind that the pressure regulator is located at the house wall in most installations, so the PVC run from the meter will be carrying full main pressure continuously. In my area, the static pressure is 100 lb/sq. in. Bursting pressure of 1" PVC is about 1440 PSI, and maximum operating pressure is 270 PSI, according to ASTM D1785, so my water main pressure of 100 PSI is well within the safe operating range and allows for pressure spikes on the main.

Last edited by andrew4096; 09-26-2011 at 09:51 AM. Reason: syntax
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:36 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by andrew4096 View Post
If it's black, it may be polybutylene, a material that got a bad reputation in the 1980s due to poor manufacturing quality that resulted in a huge class action lawsuit that put the main manufacturer out of business. It could also be High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is good stuff.
I've never seen PB that wasn't gray. In any case, what I have must be HDPE since it's only two years old.

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