Copper V’s Plastic Piping Wellington
Water Pipe Replacement
We offer pipe replacement services in Wellington. We are Wellington’s polybutylene removal and replacement experts. Southern Plumbing installs and replaces a wide range of water piping. We can install and replace black plastic qest (quest) polybutylene.
There are other types of piping that fail due to different reasons. Pressure PVC, low-density polyethylene, medium density polyethylene, and even copper can fail where electrolysis has occurred.
A common material in old buildings is galvanised iron which in soft water either bursts or corrodes until it blocks up.
Poor Shower Pressure Wellington
If you have poor shower pressure and a low-pressure hot water system, you need 20mm copper. It should run from the supply tank or pressure reducing valve to the shower mixer for best results.
Southern Plumbing will only repipe in PEX or copper, and for groundwater supplies, we replace in high-density Polyethylene. These materials are tested to last a long time.
The Polybutylene Disaster
One leak in the plastic pipe can cost you a lot of money. A small leak can result in a big problem. A Wellington owner went away on holiday for a month and came back to the ceilings in his home collapsed, and the lower part of his house flooded. A lot of damage was already done in his absence, the family heirlooms were ruined and half of the house was destroyed.
The house was unlivable for weeks. A large part of what he lost was not covered by insurance, as money cannot replace items of sentimental value, for example, family photos.
Some insurance companies do not cover dux qest polybutylene piping where there have been bursts before. Some insurance companies are not covering it at all.
Some homeowners would wait till the pipe bursts, thinking that the insurance company will pay. Most insurance companies don’t cover the Polybutylene pipe.
When we undertake repairs, some wall linings have to come out while replacing the plastic pipe. Plumbing in front of the wall also needs to be removed and restored. We cannot reinstall some plumbing items. For example, vanities are glued in or of poor construction. Some shower cubicles cannot be taken out without damage.
Polybutylene pipe is the most common water supply pipe in NZ. It is also convenient for the plumber as it is lightweight, needs simple tools, and not a lot of skills to install it. The disadvantage of installing Polybutylene pipe is that rodents chew it and it splits and cracks over time. In the past, Dux had a version called Qest, often spelled wrong as Quest.
The black plastic water pipe was installed all over New Zealand, including Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Karori, Khandallah, Tawa, Brooklyn, and Whitby. The acetal fittings were prone to leakage. More recently the piping itself is failing, both the black and grey and all brands. We can do a lot of things to minimise the replacement cost of this pipe.
It generally pays to replace the lot in one go. Replacing it piece by piece is more expensive. It is usually run along a cheaper route to minimise reinstatement of wall linings.
Brands of Polybutylene –
Dux Qest (no longer available), Black
Dux Secura and Secura Gold, Grey
Buteline, – grey
Hep2O, – dark brown
Speedfit – grey
Polytherm – grey
You dont have to use copper or polybutylene to replace it. There is a new material now Polypropylene or PEX which is a better quality product than polybutylene. The fittings are better too, more robust. The pipe is often double wall. It is much tougher than polybutylene.
The best product for water supply is High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). This has been used for many years and is good for cold water but not for hot water. Polypropylene is good for hot water, hence is used inside. It is slightly more expensive than Polybutylene. It still can be chewed by rodents, but it won’t fail the way polybutylene fails.
We are experts at replacing polybutylene. We have completed many burst pipe jobs in Wellington.
The cost of replacement depends on where it is installed. If it is under the house or in the roof space and if it is accessible, then the cost is fairly low. There is just the piping in the walls to deal with which involves opening up wall linings in some cases. If it is between the floor then ceiling needs replacement too. We usually pick a different route to that which was originally used to minimise reinstatement.
We recommend copper and PEX to replace all internal piping. Some of the grey piping is also now splitting and leaking, we recommend replacing it with polybutylene. Call Southern Plumbing now on 0800 484 353 for a free quote.
If you want the best flow and peace of mind from rodents, then replace plastic with copper. It is rare for copper to burst. If it fails, it is usually a pinhole. The disadvantage of copper is that it is a bit more expensive and can suffer from electrolysis. The level of failure is low. It copes well with high-temperature hot water and rodents. Some hot water piping can only be done with copper.
PEX v’s Polybutylene
These two piping systems are both plastic. Polybutylene has been around for many years here in NZ. PEX has been around for many years overseas and is a much better quality product than polybutylene.
PEX Cross Linked Polyethylene
We use Rifeng PEX, Kembla PEX, and Kekekit PEX. All are European standard products.
PEX has a thicker wall and is generally a tougher product. PEX and polybutylene rely on a crimp ring. If you do not like a crimp ring, we can install PEX with a sliding sleeve. Polybutylene has a shorter life than PEX and a much higher failure rate.
The Cost of Water Leaks
In Wellington, only commercial properties require water meters. Polybutylene fails at a higher rate than other products. It is often used underground, and the leaks go undetected. They can be detected if a water meter is fitted or the leak comes to the surface.
One of our customers was paying thousands per year in water charges. We questioned the high bill and did a pressure test. The test confirmed pipes were leaking. We replaced the piping for the entire commercial property. They saved thousands of money per year from their Body Corp fees. This enabled them to put the money into other building maintenance.
Another house in Karori had a huge leak that came to the surface. They thought this was caused by the surface water running off. The leaks had been going for several months.
Polybutylene has a limited life 15-25 years approx, less if used on hot water and the pressure is high. It may last longer if the water is cold and the pressure is low.
Southern Plumbing plumbers are experienced in resolving water pipe leaks and installing or upgrading water pipes. We undertake both commercial and residential projects. Call us on 0800 484 353 for all kinds of plumbing services in Wellington.