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I just looked at my water meter, and noticed something weird. The water goes into the meter (i.e., city water supply line) using a metal pipe. But then, the output of the meter is a PVC pipe, which goes into the ground. About 2 feet down the hill (my house is built on a downward hill), there is a metal pipe coming straight up out of the ground, which connects to a pressure reducing valve and then goes into the house.

I'm confused as to why a PVC pipe is used for that short distance between the water meter and the pressure reducing valve. My house uses copper pipes. Any thoughts why anyone might have done this? Thanks! Water meter. Output is PVC pipe, which goes into the ground.

A couple feet away from the meter. Metal pipe comes out of the ground and connects to pressure reducing valve.

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Besides the reasons given in the other answer (available or preferred material), there might be a problem related to corrosion and/or grounding/earthing which means to require an electrically separated pipe system for each building.

In the past, earthing/grounding via the provider's metal pipes was a common procedure, nowadays it may be even prohibited, i.e. a special ground rod/grounding system is necessary.

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It is simple , PVC is cheap and easy to install cut to length and glue together. Copper pipe is more expensive and takes some basic skill to solder. There are no real grounding issues if your metal pipe is 10’ or longer in contact with earth it is possibly your only grounding electrode. Today a supplemental would be required a 8’ ground rod is usually driven and connected to the electrical panel , make sure to do this if the metal pipe is removed, I replaced most the homes in a housing track’s grounding electrodes when they removed all the galvanized pipe to the houses leaving them with no grounds or only short sections of pipe, plumbers may not know electrical code.

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  • Thanks! I started going down this rabbit hole because I read somewhere you need a jumper cable connecting the inlet and outlet pipes to the meter for proper grounding (which I don’t have). How can I verify that my house is properly grounded? Water pipes are in crawl space, and not underground. House was built about a decade ago. I hope there is a ground rod, but I don’t even know where to look. – K. Don May 23 '20 at 19:16
  • If your water pipe is in contact with earth 10’ is a legal grounding electrode. 10 years back most jurisdictions required a supplementary electrode, a 8’ rod driven and connected with 6 awg copper is common in every state I have worked , some don’t require the driven rod but I would suggest adding it for safety. – Ed Beal May 24 '20 at 5:00
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Perhaps this was a leak repair and the plumber preferred to use PVC (or that's all he had on his truck).

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