Robert Lamoureux: Age of plumbing will determine needed action

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]
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Question No. 1 

Hi Robert, 

We are a retired couple living in a double-wide mobile home. We recently had a leak under the house in a hot water line. 

The plumber said it would be good to think about replacing the piping. She said PEX piping would be less expensive, but that copper piping would last longer. 

After reading about both, I found out that PEX is subject to rodent gnawing, but that with the wrong pH, copper would corrode. 

Living in the SCV, which should I be more concerned about: rodents or pH? 

Thank you for your help. 

— Rene V. 

If your plumbing is less than 25 years old and this is your first leak, there’s no need to replace piping, according to contracting expert Robert Lamoureaux.
Courtesy photo

Answer No. 1 

Rene, 

Thank you for being a loyal reader. 

How old is your existing plumbing? If it is over 25 years old and you’ve had problems, then it might be a good time. If this leak is the first one you have had, then you can wait until you see more leaks. 

You can go to PEX, but I recommend that they use the plastic fittings and NOT the metal couplings and fittings. PEX has come a long way, best of luck. 

— Robert

Question No. 2

Robert, 

I read your column all the time — love your advice and your reasoning — great column! 

My brother-in-law used to be a plumber and told me years ago that people should use a small amount of liquid pipe cleaner a couple times per month to prevent buildup and plumbing problems. However, many people recommend to never do this. 

What do you recommend? Thank you. 

— Gary H. 

Answer No. 2 

Gary,

Thank you for being a loyal reader of The Signal. 

There are a multitude of different opinions out there. What has always worked for me is about a half a cup of household bleach in each trap once a month. When applying the bleach to the trap you must be careful to wipe the fitting at the bottom of the sink so that the bleach does not burn the finish. 

What I do is pour it in and just take a paper towel and wipe the throat of the sink. I hope that makes sense. 

I usually do that in the morning before I leave and when I come home, I just run water in each fixture to wash the bleach away. 

Two things happen: The house smells great when you walk in, and the bleach dissolves any scum in the bottom of the trap arm. 

Using bleach is a lot less expensive than any other drain products. As far as I’m concerned that’s the way to go. 

I am not saying the guy next to me isn’t right, but I found this to be the best alternative. 

Hope that answers your questions. 

Best of luck, thank you for writing in. 

— Robert

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