What is the best plastic pipe for installation
With a view to health: which material for water pipes for new builds or renovations?
Would you like to build a new one or have you fallen in love with an old building? Then you will very soon find yourself faced with all sorts of questions that need to be clarified. What needs to be renovated, where can still be maintained or which material for water pipes is best suited for new construction?
The House installation for drinking water requires special attention here, especially in old buildings, because outdated pipes usually still serve their purpose for a while, but can become a health problem - at the latest when the limit values for heavy metals or bacteria, which are specified in the Drinking Water Ordinance, be crossed, be exceeded, be passed.
The material for water pipes sometimes determines the quality of the drinking water in the end. Because although the waterworks and public utilities generally fully comply with the framework conditions for drinking water quality in Germany that are clearly declared and stipulated in the Drinking Water Ordinance, the question of which material has been chosen for water pipes can determine the actual water quality. The fact is: only a minimal amount of contamination of the tap water occurs in the public supply network. The causes are almost always sources of danger in the domestic drinking water system, for example when lead is used as a material for water pipes.
Which material for water pipes is chosen most often in Germany?
In the past, lead was the most commonly used material for water pipes. However, it has been known since the 1970s that lead has tremendous health effects when ingested with drinking water. Lead is not a suitable material for water pipes and should no longer be installed in any drinking water installation - old lead pipes may need to be renovated. Because the limit value for lead cannot be complied with if the water flows through lead pipes. Here homeowners are responsible for compliance with the prescribed limit values, especially if the water is made available to tenants.
Can the wrong material for water pipes make you sick?
Lead-piped drinking water should not be used to prepare baby food. If lead pipes are laid in the house, this applies not only to stagnant water, but also to running water. The consequential damage caused by the continuous intake of lead is enormous, especially in babies and toddlers. Development disorders can occur here, among other things. However, lead in drinking water can also have health consequences for adults. For this reason, the Drinking Water Ordinance provides for corresponding limit values that can hardly be observed if your own tap water flows through lead pipes before it bubbles out of the tap.
For example, you can read more about the health effects of lead in drinking water in this article.
We have important information for parents of babies and toddlers as well as for pregnant women in the articles “Tap water for babies? Information for parents ”and“ Can you drink tap water while pregnant? ”Summarized for you.
However, it is not just lead in drinking water that can be a problem. Copper and nickel are also sources of danger and are often found in house installations. It is important to note that it is not only the water pipes themselves that pose a potential hazard, but also the fittings in the bathroom or kitchen.
In addition to toxic heavy metals, there is also the risk that biofilms will form, especially with materials that tend to be porous. This is where bacteria find the ideal conditions to multiply.
What material are the water pipes for your own drinking water installation made of?
With a few looks and a few simple steps, specialists determine what material the water pipes in your house are made of and whether they need to be replaced.
- Copper pipes stand out due to their red-brown color and a metallic sound. Along with plastic and stainless steel, copper is the most popular material for water pipes. In the case of copper, the cables are connected to one another by soldering and pressing processes far more often than by screw and press connections. One problem is the high copper solubility, which is particularly an issue when the water tends to be hard and acidic. Therefore, copper is not particularly suitable as a material for water pipes in various regions of Germany. Before deciding on copper, you should therefore find out whether the material is suitable for water pipes in your own region. If the copper value in the water exceeds the limit of 2 milligrams per liter of drinking water, a risk to the health of babies and newborns cannot be ruled out. If the value is even over 3 milligrams per liter of water over a long period of time, children and adults can also suffer from stomach and intestinal problems, for example.
- The less frequently installed pipes internally tinned copper look just like copper pipes from the outside, but are silvery-gray on the inside.
- Stainless steel pipes are matt gray and also have a bright metallic sound. Press connections can be found here almost without exception. Screw connections are only common on fittings and welded connections on distributors.
- Plastic pipes can have different colors, are rather dull in sound and are connected by gluing, welding or so-called press fittings.
- Lead pipes are gray and sound dull if you knock on the pipe with a screwdriver, for example. In addition, the material can easily be scratched with a screwdriver or a fingernail. Typically, lead pipes were laid in generous arcs.
We have more about how you can tell whether lead was used as a material for water pipes in your house in our special article “Warning, toxic! This is how you can recognize lead pipes! ”In summary.
Most materials, however, can be easily distinguished even for the layperson
Also the Fittings in the bathroom and kitchen can impair the quality of the drinking water. Chromium-plated materials in particular are a problem here, because they can cause an increased concentration of nickel to get into the water.
When should you change water pipes?
There is a very clear need for action, especially in old buildings in which lead pipes are still present. These are no longer up-to-date and compliance with the limit values set by the Drinking Water Ordinance is hardly possible. So if there are still old lead pipes in your own house, the renovation of the water pipes is usually unavoidable. If necessary, a check of the entire drinking water installation should also be considered.
Copper pipes also indicate a need for action. Water analyzes can be used to determine whether the provisions of the Drinking Water Ordinance are being observed or whether limit values have already been exceeded.
In general, any line material can cause stress in any form. For example in the form of heavy metals loosening from the pipes or through biofilms. These serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Regular checks of the entire house installation, including hot water preparation, should therefore be a matter of course.
Which material is best for renovation or new build?
The ideal material for water pipes depends not least on the nature of the water in the region. The advice of a specialist is to be obtained here. Are especially popular Plastic pipeswhich are most suitable due to their long service life and the highest level of harmlessness.
These are often used in new buildings because they are robust and flexible materials. This reduces the possibility of heavy metals such as lead loosening from the pipes and getting into the water.
However, this does not necessarily apply to the risk of bacterial contamination. Classic lead pipes are much more susceptible to rust and deposits, but biofilms can also settle in plastic pipes. These represent an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens. Here, too, regular maintenance and control are essential and water tests provide security.
What are the costs if water pipes have to be replaced?
It's hard to say in general terms. Various factors come together here, including, for example, the effort required to remove the old pipes and the scope of the entire renovation.
It is clear, however, that renovation cannot be avoided, especially when old-fashioned lead pipes are installed in the house. There is an urgent need for action here, especially if third parties, such as tenants, also use the water. But even if you use the drinking water exclusively for your own use, you should invest in your own health, have the water tested and, if necessary, carry out renovations.
How extensive the renovation of the water pipes must be can only be determined by a specialist. It is advisable to seek the advice of a trained specialist and to have the renovation measures carried out professionally.
Also pay attention to the hot water preparation and the pipes from the water meter!
One should also pay attention to the hot water preparation. Weak points can be found here, especially in older installations, which promote the multiplication of bacteria.
In addition, it must be ensured that the water pipes from the water meter are the responsibility of the house owner. The water suppliers guarantee that the drinking water they deliver is harmless to the point of delivery. As a rule, this is represented by the water clocks. From here on, it should therefore be ensured under professional supervision that no unsuitable water pipes are installed.
A problem not only with lead lines: limit values are exceeded
If it is not clear what material the house's water pipes are made of, water users can quickly determine whether there is any pollution by means of a water analysis. The same applies, of course, if there are abnormalities or complaints that may be related to the water quality.
Water filters offer a remedy if limit values are exceeded
If you notice increased heavy metal contamination after a water analysis, action should be taken as soon as possible. In this case, it is advisable to install an activated carbon block filter behind the fitting. In this way, heavy metals, pesticides, microplastics and other pollutants can be sustainably filtered directly at the extraction point. A good option for this is the IVARIO water filter, with which you can safely enjoy your drinking water.
You can find out more about this in the IVARIO shop or, for example, in the article “Have tap water tested - why is it so important?”.
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