Frequently Asked Questions
The most common type of pipe being replaced is polybutylene, however you commonly see old galvanized lines, black IPS well pipe lines, and copper lines in need of replacement. The best method in terms of installation with longest life of the pipe in mind would be open trench. The best method with simply aesthetics in mind would be the splitter, however, the splitter can only be used on polybutylene pipe or black IPS well pipe. My least recommended method of installation is the vibrating plow.
Typically when a line breaks under the house, we abandon the old pipe and determine the simplest path to get to the main shutoff valve. Typically that involves rerouting the pipe through a utility room or doing a short directional bore under the slab. Sometimes we can move the shutoff valve and regulator to a new location, which can save some rerouting work.
First of all if you have polybutylene piping, any repair to the piping is strictly temporary. Using leak detection equipment to find the leak and the excavating the pipe can cost more than a replacement. A replacement comes with a full warranty and peace of mind. A repair on polybutylene plumbing carries no warranty.
First all three are poly pipes, there in the same family. Polybutylene (PB) is the least desirable of the three mainly because of its deterioration, and low pressure rating. Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) is favored by many plumbers, however, the pipe becomes brittle over time, the pipe has little flexibility, repairs cannot be done quickly (glue time), pipe comes in short sticks and many joints are required. Black polyethylene (PE) comes in several thicknesses; I would say the only suitable version of PE for a water service is the 200 PSI version combined with brass coupling. The benefits of PE pipe are flexibility, typically only two connections on a single short run and a good performance history. It is estimated that 95% of new home water service lines are black PE. And that 100% of new gas service lines are yellow PE.
The piping materials all have long warranties on workmanship and extrusion quality, etc.
Copper institute says 50 years, the polyethylene manufacturer says 25 years, the PVC manufacturer says approximately 10 years. Each manufacturer may be a little different, however, they all have plenty of clauses for installation problems, soil conditions, water conditions, contaminated soils (petroleum), etc. The realistic service life of a service line in good soil, with compatible water quality and on a good base ranges from 10 years to 50 years. Copper pipe is the most proven reliable and in ideal conditions should last at least 25 years, black polyethylene should last at least 25 years (the Natural Gas Design Board rates the expected service life of polyethylene at over 50 years) and PVC should last at least 15 years.
I have over 600 feet of 1″ black polyethylene outside my home for over 10 years and have never had a problem. Inside of my house we used copper piping. I prefer either copper or black polyethylene water service lines. I regularly use PVC for sewer piping but only rarely for water service lines.
We reconnect your sprinkler system at the meter, typically we use copper tees and a brass gate valve whether you choose a plastic or copper service line. We will repair all cut water lines supplying your sprinkler system.
The average replacement time is 2 to 5 hours.
Most repairs and replacement can be done on the same day, if for some reason we cannot perform the work on the same day, we can arrange a temporary water line in most cases.
- Locate the critical points: Water meter, entrance to house and sprinkler connection (if underground sprinkler exists)
- Planning: Plan the simplest route for replacement including factors such as underground utilities, landscaping, large tree root systems, slope of the property, accessibility for equipment, soil type (rocky), soil stability (a water line does not do good on an eroding slope or floating in muddy soil) and future changes to the property or structure.
- Start excavation: Excavate the meter and the house, use open trench or other pipe replacement techniques.
- Clean up: Backfill all holes, seal all holes through foundation walls with hydraulic cement to prevent future rain water leaks, and sweep up work area.
- Invoice: Written invoice will be given with description of work and warranty period. This invoice can be photo copied and submitted to your water department. (You may receive a credit of some type if you have a large water bill, depending on your water department and who you talk to at your water department.)