Is copper plumbing supply lines good for you?

The elements written about below are used in all modern house drinking water delivery systems.
These quotes can from different EPA web sites. A little disturbing I called a number of officials this late week to talk about copper drinking water supplies. What I found out was they were more concerned about the brass in the drinking water than the copper piping it’s self.

The 1st element is copper, and then 2nd element of brass is zinc. The amount of zinc varies between 5% and 40% by weight depending on the types of brass required.

“The 1991 rule aims to minimize lead and copper in drinking water by reducing water corrosivity. Lead and copper enter drinking water primarily through plumbing materials. Exposure to lead and copper may cause health problems ranging from stomach distress to brain damage.”

“Everyone must absorb small amounts of copper every day because copper is essential for good health. High levels of copper can be harmful. “Breathing high levels of copper can cause irritation of your nose and throat. Ingesting high levels of copper can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Very-high doses of copper can cause damage to your liver and kidneys, and can even cause death.”

“A wide range of clinical symptoms have been associated with zinc deficiency in humans (Abernathy et al., 1993; Prasad, 1993; Sandstead, 1994; Walsh et al., 1994). The clinical manifestations of severe zinc deficiency, seen in individuals with an inborn error of zinc absorption or in patients receiving total parenteral nutrition with inadequate levels of zinc, include bullous pustular dermatitis, diarrhea, alopecia, mental disturbances, and impaired cell-mediated immunity resulting in intercurrent infections. Symptoms associated with moderate zinc deficiency include growth retardation, male hypogonadism, skin changes, poor appetite, mental lethargy, abnormal dark adaptation, and delayed wound healing. Neurosensory changes, impaired neuropsychological functions, oligospermia, decreased serum testosterone, hyperammonemia, and impaired immune function (alterations in T-cell subpopulations, decreased natural killer cell activity) have been observed in individuals with mild or marginal zinc deficiency.”

“Lead does not noticeably alter the taste, color or smell of water. The effects of low levels of lead toxicity in humans may not be obvious. There may be no symptoms present or symptoms may be mistaken as other illnesses. The only way to know the concentration of lead in water is through sampling and laboratory testing which is described in greater detail in a subsequent section.”

Exhaust fan problems I presume?

My heating contract was called into a house that was about 8 years old. The homeowner had a unique problem. In the master bedroom was located on the 2nd floor the toilet bowl was frozen and the bathroom temperature was 70°. The contractor though at first this was a joke. The owner insisted that he wanted the problem fixed. With a little bit of looking around the contractor saw the bath fan right above the toilet bowl. But the real problem was in the attic the exhaust vent from the exhaust fan was not insulated. With the out side temperature of –20F below. What happened the air inside the exhaust pipe being cold (and cold air is heaver than warm air) dropped from the ceiling fan and fell into the toilet because the husband left the toilet lid up the night before, Allowing the cold air to collect in the toilet bowl and actually freeze the water.

Another job site the homeowner had a new roof put on 6 months earlier and had the attic reinsulated. The first cold morning about –15 below 0 with a hot shower the ceiling fan started dripping water. So he called out the roofer to fix the problem, it was not the roofing but instead the exhaust fan piping again was not insulated. While the high humidity was being blown out and the metal piping was below 0 the humidity was condensing rapidly on the piping, then run back into the ceiling fan, through the vent louvers and end up dripping to the floor.
You have to insulate the entire exhaust vent to the exhaust point.

Close quarters

We built an addition between the house and garageThe owner wanted to put an addition between the house and the garage. The space between the house and the garage was 26’4″, City hall said we had to stay 1′ away from the garage with the addition.


The foundation wall and the framing walls was set at 12″ apart. Adding the siding to both the garage and the addition walls, the space between is now 9″.
Separating foundations

The house’s foundation was down 7′, while the garage only had a floating slab. To get the foundation in, we had to dig down 7′ and remove the soil. The soil we were digging in was sand. Digging this close to the garage the sand under garage will slide out fast and up 7′ away from the garage under mining the garage, then the garage floor will break, this will bring the broken slab and some of the garage wall framing into the excavated hole. to solve this problem we built a shear wall to hold sand from shifting and sliding, keeping the garage safe.

Heating- Types of Fuels

• Electricity

Electricity has been the most costly in the past 30 years, but with energy costs jump on oil it may be the way to heat and cool the home.
• Gas

Next to electricity gas would be the easiest product to maintain.
Simple concepts and the largest number of contractors work with this type of equipment.
Gas has long been the leader in affordable heat.
• Oil

Oil is a good option, the concepts are simple but there are very few contractors who really understand how to fix the equipment when it needs maintenance.
• Solar

Some solar systems are very easy with little to no maintenance.
However, the investment and size of the equipment is often large for the small return of investment.
• Wood

Wood, appears to be cheep, but requires vehicles, chain saws, a huge source of wood and teenagers.
• Hybrids

Dual fuel, Water source heat pumps, and much more are good options.
The concepts are simple but there are very few contractors who really understand how to fix the equipment when it needs maintenance.

Blunders-wet basement

I was called to a house in the summer of 2003; the homeowners built the house.
They called with a problem of water in their basement. When I got there, they had a new swimming pool in the basement. The county required a perk test done the property.

This was to tell which type of sewer system is required.

  • In ground standard.
  • Mound system.
  • On this lot because of high level of ground water a mound system was required.

    When it was time to build about 3 months later being a dry summer they dug 3 1/2 feet below the drain field system, to set the footings.

    The next 2 years were dry. But the spring of 2003 was a couple of wet months above average rainfall that spring and they had 3′ of standing water in their basement.

    Saved about $20,000.00 on construction fees, and lost about 26’x 42′ area in a lower level or lost about $54,600.00 resell value.

    Saved about $20,000.00 on construction fees, and lost about 26’x 42′ area in a lower level or lost about $54,600.00 resell value.

    Lumber, and its markings

    Lumber comes from trees and most building lumber comes from pine trees.

    In the pine tree species there are 14 types of soft woods (pine trees).

    In each soft wood there are at least 5 classifications of strengths of each type of wood:

    * Select structural clear wood
    * No.1 with small knots
    * No.2 with knots 3/4″ and smaller
    * No.3 with knots 2″ and smaller
    * No.4 with large knots

    When the trees are cut into boards at the mill, they spray paint on the ends of the studs. The darker the color of paint, the better quality lumber you are building with.

    Color ratings are purple, red, orange, light blue, and light green.

    The darker the color, the better the lumber. Better lumber holds nails better, and the wood will not bow, twice, cup, or check as much as the lighter colors.

    A lot of information but what does it mean?

    What if your house is designed for Douglas fir floor joists and your contractor wants to save money and installs balsam or spruce floor joists instead?

    The contractor changed your floor load rating from 17.6 lbs. dead load (furniture) and 60 lbs. live load (people) to 17 lbs. dead load, and 33 lbs live load — now your floor is not even legal.

    I’ve seen it happen a lot.

    Similarly, poor quality studs do a number on sheetrock — install it, and you can count all the screw and nail pops over time.

    Roofing in Cold Climates

    Roofing looks to be so basic

    Did you know that the roofing manufactures will not warranty their products if the shingles are installed improperly?

    The warranty does not warrant that your roof shall not leak. But instead they warrant that their product “shall not fall apart over normal weather conditions”.
    The contractor is responsible for the rest.

    1. To make sure that the roof decking is structurally sound, solid and uniform (no damage, loosening, lifting or sagging), for a better roof deck plywood sheathing is better than Norboard/oriented Strandboard.

    Moisture inside of the attic freezes on to the roofing nail on the attic side of the roof sheathing.
    This moisture works on the Norboard sheathing.

    In time the sheathing breaks down much quicker than using plywood sheathing.

    What does this mean?

    In about 6-10 years down the road when a high-wind storm comes your shingles are no longer fasted tightly to the roof deck and portion of your roof will blow off.

    You say “No problem – insurance will pay for it.” and you pay a higher premium for that privilege and keep paying for years to come.
    2. The code requires Ice & Water Shield to be installed 2′ beyond the inside surface of exterior roofs at the eve line.

    The material is designed to keep water from getting to the roof decking.

    The problem is the water sits between the shingles you see and the Ice & Water Shield.

    Moisture on backside of the shingles makes the shingle break down and crumble leaving you with exposed Ice & Water Shield and gutter flashing.

    Now the water is no longer going into the gutter in this area and instead is going between the gutter and fascia board and getting into your overhang.

    Easy solution – install 15# tarpaper above Ice & Water Shield. It wicks water away from an area to a place it can evaporate.
    3. The best way to make a roof last the longest is to keep the attic air temperature and out side air within 2° degrees of each other.

    1. This keeps the shingles from baking in the summer or creating ice dams in the winter.

      To achieve this, have a well ventilated roof.

      Continuous Venting in the soffits, and/or roof venting – as in ridge vents or metal roof vents. Gable end vents are great if you can in corporate them in the design of the building.