What is the function of a water main?
Water mains receive treated and pressurized water from the city that supply water to your home. After the water travels into the water main, it moves through a large (typically 3/4 inch) pipe into your home. The water pressure can be dependent on the distance between your home and the city water pumps. The further the distance from these pumps, the lower your water pressure. Low pressurized water can easily be resolved by having a professional plumber install a pump on the main line that would re-pressurize the water, thus providing you with increased pressure.
The water main pipe is typically 18 inches underground, making it deep enough to avoid freezing in the cold winter weather. It can be made out of galvanized iron, plastic, or copper. Prior to reaching the water heater, the line branches off into two different paths. These two paths are the cold and hot water service lines. These service lines are what supply water to all of the faucets and appliances on your property.
Galvanized iron pipes are lower in cost than copper piping, but higher in cost than plastic piping. They are considered to be a safe material to transport water, but concerns remain regarding the possibility of corrosion in the water supply due to its low pH (acidity). Dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion and rust, these pipes can eventually break down after years of usage, and prove not to be as safe as once thought. Although galvanized piping can be safe for usage in its initial years, it would need to be replaced far sooner than copper piping to continue providing a quality water supply. This type of piping can also cause low water pressure due to corrosion, discoloration of water due to the break down of iron in the piping, and the risk of leaks from rusting. If you notice some rust coming out of your water from your faucet, this is likely due to your galvanized piping.
Plastic piping is the least expensive of the three types of most commonly used piping. There are three different types of piping: PVC pipes (Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes) and CPVC pipes (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes) and PEX pipes (Cross-linked Polyetheline Pipes).
Let’s review a few of the main Pros and Cons of each:
- Cost & Affordability
- Does not rust or corrode
- Popular amongst sprinkler systems and outdoor irrigation systems
- Does not handle hot water well. These pipes can become misshapen over time if exposed to hot water.
- More affordable than galvanized and copper piping
- Can handle both hot and cold water
- Safest for fire sprinkler systems due to its heat resistance
- Usually limited to indoor water distributions
- Slightly more costly than PVC piping
- Resistant to freezing temperatures
- Does not scale or corrode
- Resistant to acids
- Not recyclable
- Cannot be used outside
- There is a risk (though small) that due to its impermeability, that your water can become contaminated
Copper piping is the oldest material that’s been used, dating as far back as thousands of years ago. Although it is the oldest method, it has proven to be the most trusted and most recommended by plumbers. Unlike PEX piping, copper is permeable, and contaminants are unable to penetrate it making it unable to move into your water supply. It is also found naturally in the environment, and is not manufactured, making it safer to use. Copper tube fittings are also safe in the event of a fire. It will not melt and will not give off toxic fumes, again due to it being found naturally in the environment. It adds value to your home. Homes are more likely to be sold at a higher price if equipped with copper plumbing due to the pipes typically outliving the life of the home itself. For these reasons, it is more costly than galvanized piping and plastic piping, but would require much less maintenance during its use.
Why is this information important for you as a Hollywood resident?
The Los Angeles housing market began booming in the 1920s and 1930s. The population grew rapidly and homes were being built in the hills of East and West Hollywood. Filmmakers and actors were drawn to the beautiful views and found themselves in the epicenter of entertainment. Many of these homes are still in existence today. The old, well preserved, homes have been remodeled time and time again, but more often than not during remodeling, the plumbing is overlooked until a problem occurs.
Water main bursts can be devastating to your property and is considered a plumbing emergency. If you notice that your water bill is unusually high, it is important to have your main lines checked for leaks, as this may be the cause of your inflated bill. If a leak is present, repairs can be made, and your water and power company might reimburse part of your water bill upon submittal of the invoice. (Please check with your local water and power company for policies regarding this).
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