Use of Plastic (PVC & CPVC) Piping

For Potable Water Systems

With the price of copper increasing, building owners and contractors frequently consider plastic piping (specifically, CPVC) for potable (domestic) water distribution within buildings.

Both copper and CPVC have practical benefits as well as disadvantages.  A practical comparison of the “pro’s and con’s” of copper verses plastic pipe is available from CASCO upon request.

Although CPVC piping is allowed by virtually all major building codes, there are health considerations that may favor the use of copper, especially when the piping system involves water spray or vaporization which could be inhaled by humans, thereby risking exposure to Legionnaires’ disease.

CASCO’s research revealed a number of articles in which showers were alleged to be the source of Legionella infection in humans.   A number of articles allege that copper tubing introduces properties into potable water that reduces the propensity for Legionella strains to develop or exist.  CASCO’s research does not, however, lead to a conclusive determination that CPVC piping breeds Legionella, nor that copper will, in fact, prevent Legionella.

CASCO continues to recommend copper tubing for all potable water piping and particularly for all applications involving bathing, showers, cooking, dishwashing, whirlpool tubs, and other uses where water is sprayed or vaporized.  Clients and/or Contractors making an economic decision to use CPVC piping should do so only on an informed basis realizing the potential risk involved.  

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