Poly Vinyl Chloride or PVC, it's not a subject of everyday conversation, but without it plumbing systems can't function.
It's the plastic pipe you see at construction sites and under the kitchen sink. But now, there's a shortage and if it continues local home builders could experience major delays.
"If we don't have the product for a contractor or home builder to start or finish a project then we are basically slowing down the economy," said Jeff Joyner, Moore Plumbing Supply.
From delivering water to a shower or water fountain to draining the bathtub, PVC is needed for all types of plumbing. Randall Pitcock, a local builder says, its shortage is affecting builders bottom line.
"If you have immediate demand, you could be spending more money," said Randall Pitcock, Pitcock & Croix Custom Homes.
23 of the 48 PVC refineries are located in Texas or Louisiana. The recent hurricanes caused suppliers to "over buy" the product in a panic, thus causing the shortage. Many suppliers and builders say they don't expect the shortage to last long.
"I think it's short term. I think it's something that is going to be 3 or 4 months to catch up. But, it all stems back to Katrina," said Joyner.
Since PVC is necessary for any building project the shortage has sparked some price gouging.
"The price increases that we are seeing now are real. We're paying today 50 percent more than three months ago," said Joyner.
Most building codes do not allow contractors to use pipes that aren't PVC so there aren't many alternatives. But there is good news, once refineries are back online the shortages should end. Until then, finding cheap PVC will remain nothing more than a pipe dream.
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