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Old 01-28-2015, 07:55 AM   #1
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PEX and boil water advisory...


Our entire city of Winnipeg (pop 644,000) has been hit with a boil water advisory. Apparently they found a (low) level of e coli in the water. It's never happened before so this is a new one on us.... and yes, our water is chlorine treated.

It's times like this however I'm reminded of the age old pex vs copper debate and feel lucky my house is all copper.

Copper has been proven to kill e coli.
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On a dry copper surface, the study shows 10 million E. coli bacteria are eliminated within 10 minutes. On a wet copper surface, one could expect a total kill within around 45 minutes. This antimicrobial property is inherent to the metal, and shared with alloys such as brass and bronze.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0602143444.htm

At this point we don't know where the e coli originated or why it's showing up at several outlets routinely tested, but it will be interesting to find out because I'm betting some of those locations will include the use of pex... pex can't kill e coli and indeed it has been suggested that it may even breed bacteria.


Thinking about pex? Think again.

Last edited by Bob Sanders; 01-28-2015 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:59 AM   #2
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Copper has been proven to kill e coli.
This is undeniably true; however, it's dangerously misleading to not qualify that statement appropriately...

Most importantly, copper does not instantaneously (nor very quickly at all!) kill any bacteria upon contact - especially under "wet" conditions.

Copper pipes within a residence do not offer any significant bacteria protection to its inhabitants, since (outside of a small initial volume trapped in the household pipes) water spends only a very brief period of time rapidly flowing through them from the outside source to your tap.

If you are under the impression that you don't have to boil your water simply because you have copper pipes in your house, I strongly caution you to re-think that plan.

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Thinking about pex? Think again.
I'm still perfectly A-OK with my PEX

Cheers, Chris
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Old 01-28-2015, 12:07 PM   #3
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This is undeniably true; however, it's dangerously misleading to not qualify that statement appropriately...
The statement was qualified properly... including times involved in killing bacteria. It's right there in the quote for all to see. You didn't?

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If you are under the impression that you don't have to boil your water simply because you have copper pipes in your house, I strongly caution you to re-think that plan.
Never said I wasn't boiling water. Copper is an added layer of protection is all. If water stagnates in a copper pipe (as in over night or while on vacation or similar) it can't grow bacteria. This is not the case with pex.
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Old 01-28-2015, 12:38 PM   #4
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So when you get back from vacation, just run your water for a little bit....a minute should do it, then everything that was in the pipes is now down the drain. Like he said, the only water that spends 45 minutes in contact with copper is the...gallon??.... between the source and the faucet.

I seriously doubt your provider used expensive copper for the main lines.
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Old 01-28-2015, 12:40 PM   #5
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The statement was qualified properly... including times involved in killing bacteria. It's right there in the quote for all to see. You didn't?
I did indeed; however, I fail to see how those numbers support an argument that residential copper pipes can provide anything beyond truly trivial protection against bacteria.

The general implication of your original post seems to be that copper pipes provide some sort of persistent protection against bacteria - that is certainly not the case.

But perhaps my pex-foil hat is on too tight, who knows...

Cheers, Chris
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Old 01-28-2015, 01:07 PM   #6
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I did indeed; however, I fail to see how those numbers support an argument that residential copper pipes can provide anything beyond truly trivial protection against bacteria.
It's trivial right up until you get sick.
Copper pipe also does not breed bacteria. Pex can.
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Old 01-28-2015, 02:00 PM   #7
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OK, I give up

With respect to ever responding to this post in the first place, good ol' George Oscar Bluth Jr here sums up my feelings well ...



Have a great day!

Cheers, Chris
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:49 PM   #8
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Thanks for posting that Bob, looks like an interesting study. I didn't see any links to details of the actual study, do you have any? From the last paragraph, it appears that it's about food prep surfaces rather than pipes, but interesting none the less!

From the article:
"Deployed as a touch surface in food preparation areas, copper will continuously kill any pathogens that settle on it, reducing the risk of cross-contamination, and helping to prevent the spread of infection."

As for E. coli in pipes, I wonder if it actually has to come in contact with the pipe surface to be killed, or if there is some transference through the water to kill it. I suppose if the former, pipe diameter would come into play as the larger the pipe, the greater chance that more molecules won't actually contact the surface of the pipe.
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Old 01-29-2015, 12:40 AM   #9
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Sounds like a story a copper pipe salesman would come up with.
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Old 01-29-2015, 11:36 AM   #10
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Bob, the facts you presented don't support your hypothesis that copper is better. Your facts say that it requires 45 minutes to kill e coli. But the contaminated city water won't reside in your pipes for 45 minutes before yo shower in it or drink it - so no benefit.
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