Types of Plumbing Pipes | Which Pipes Are Best For Your Plumbing Needs

The most common cause of installing new plumbing pipes in your home might be a leak. Pipes get worn out over time and tend to cause bothersome leaks that can damage your property. Therefore, it's crucial to replace them occasionally for proper plumbing system performance. But what types of plumbing pipes to pick?

Plumber Working On P Trap

In modern times, you have quite a few extra choices when it comes to choosing plumbing pipes. Things were simple in the past when the main plumbing pipes were made of galvanized steel or cast iron. Today, you can choose between several different types to suit your needs, and that can be rather confusing. There are pros and cons to consider with each material, and the choice is not always easy to make.

To help you make an informed decision and pick pipes that are best for your home, we composed a guide to different types of plumbing pipes. We also included pros and cons to each one of them so you can choose depending on the situation and your particular needs.

Copper Pipes 

Copper is one of the most common materials used for plumbing pipes in the past and is highly popular today as well. The two main types of copper pipes are rigid and flexible. Rigid copper pipes are most commonly used for a water supply because they don't pose any health risks. Flexible copper pipes, on the other hand, are very useful for limited space and tight areas that require more flexibility. They are usually installed in corners or as a supply line.

Pros and Cons of Copper Pipes

Copper is a reliable material that can last for at least 50 years. It's not prone to leaks or corrosion, which makes it highly durable and very safe too. Copper doesn't pollute water, and what's even more important, bacteria can't grow in it. The material is resistant to extreme temperature changes as well, and it can be recycled.

Still, copper has its drawbacks, and the main one is the installation. Copper pipes are not easy to mount and usually require professional help. The material needs to be soldered together, and plumbers do that better than DIYers. Another drawback comes from the fact you'll pay some extra cash for the professional installation of copper pipes.

PVC Pipes

PVC or polyvinyl chloride pipes became popular in the last couple of years. These are made of a thermoplastic polymer, a combination of plastic and vinyl. PVC pipes are very rigid and often used for highly pressurized water. They can be used for both transporting portable water and draining.

Pros and Cons of PVC Pipes

The main advantage of PVC pipes comes from impressive durability. The polyvinyl chloride material can withstand high pressure and last for a long time. These pipes are not prone to rust or corrosion either, which makes them not only durable but safe for human consumption. On top of that, PVC pipes are easy to install and come at an attractive price.  The main disadvantage, on the other hand, is a high susceptibility to heat. The material is likely to melt and warp under hot water and when exposed to sunlight. That's why PVC is most commonly used for waste and drain pipes.

PEX Pipes

PEX stands for Cross-Linked Polyethylene pipes. These are made of plastic and can be found in most newly designed homes. PEX pipes are flexible and can be used in long runs. They are easy to cut and join together, so the installation is easy and inexpensive.

Pros and Cons of PEX Pipes

PEX pipes are rust and corrosion-resistant and can last for a long time. Along with being very durable, they are incredibly flexible. You can run them across the entire length of your house with ease and get into walls and corners. The installation is inexpensive as well, and thanks to the PEX pipes' high resistance to heat, you can use them for both hot and cold water transport.  Although the environmental regulations in the US approve PEX pipes, some people claim the pipes tend to change the taste and smell of drinking water. This is probably the biggest concern with installing PEX pipes. We also don't recommend mounting them outdoors because the material can get damaged by UV rays.

ABS Pipes

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) pipes are made of plastic and are very similar to PVC. They have a long lifespan and are most suitable for drain and waste piping.

Pros and Cons of ABS Pipes

ABS pipes are very popular in cold climates because they are resistant to low temperatures. They are also rigid and durable yet easy to install. You only need to apply cement to the connections so that the pipes can stay joined. These pipes, however, do warp in warm temperatures. They are not ideal for outdoor use where there's direct exposure to the sunlight. Furthermore, ABS pipes don't contain the sound of running water and allow for noises to travel through the house.

Galvanized Steel Pipes

The two additional types of plumbing pipes found mostly in older homes are steel and cast iron. Galvanized steel pipes were used in the past for drains, water supply, gas supply, and other purposes. While these pipes can't be found that frequently today, cast iron ones are widely present in homes.

Pros and Cons of Galvanized Steel and Cast Iron Pipes

Both of these types are sturdy, heavy, and extremely durable. Cast iron pipes are still used today because they can last for many years and are not prone to outside damage.  The downside to galvanized steel pipes is the fact they are prone to corrosion. They tend to deteriorate over time and block the water supply, causing low pressure. Cast iron, on the other hand, is very heavy, which is why most people don't opt to install these types of plumbing pipes.

Types of Plumbing Pipes

Types of Plumbing Pipes

The different types of plumbing pipes explained above can be found in both commercial and residential buildings. Depending on the type of plumbing, year built, and other equipment, the necessary plumbing pipe may change. If you have more questions regarding plumbing pipes, leaks, repairs, or installation - call Leak Science today! We are expert leak detectives who have worked on all types of plumbing issues both indoors and outdoors. Deciding on the right type of plumbing pipes is important for the integrity of your home or business. Consider the pros and cons of each type of plumbing pipe listed above before making your final decision.

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