A plumbing system in your house is a network of pipes and fittings. The gas and water is supplied inside and outside your home via these plumbing pipes. Having knowledge of the different types of pipes used in your home can help you tackle plumbing issues yourself and consult a plumber if the need arises.
The pipes used in your home can be made from various materials. But the two major categories of plumbing pipe are plastic and metal.
• Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): The PVC pipe is often used for the main supply of home and can effortlessly transport high-pressure water. The PVC pipe comes in a range of sizes from ½ inches to 4 inches. The PVC pipe is available in white and gray color. The pipe is only made to handle cold water as warm/hot water will cause the pipe to wrap.
• Creamy Plastic Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC): The CPVC pipe is a PVC pipe which has been bleached in chlorine. The pipe found in yellow or beige color is more reliable and less expensive than its counterparts. The CPVC pipe is designed to handle both hot and cold water but it shouldn’t be buried as the pipe will split when freezes.
• Grey Plastic Polybutylene (PB): The gray or beige pipe is available in coils. The pipe once used widely between the years 1970 – 1990 has now proven to be prone to leaks which resulted in the decline of its popularity.
• Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS): The black pipe is the first plastic pipe which was used in residential homes. Although, it was once used for various tasks, the ABS pipe is now prohibited by local plumbing authorities since the joints come loose over time.
• Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX): Many newly constructed homes are using the PEX piping for its heat resistant feature. The PEX piping is ideal for water-based heating systems.
• High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE): The plumbing pipe is the most long-lasting and can be used for various plumbing needs including compressed gas and even hazardous waste. Highly resistant to corrosion, the HDPE pipe is available in extended lengths while the joints can be formed through heat fusions.
• Copper: Although, copper pipes are the most expensive – they are the most reliable also. The copper pipes are highly resistant to corrosion, flame, and is able to withstand high temperatures. The copper pipes are available in three sizes – M, L, and K with M being the thinnest and K, the thickest.
• Stainless Steel: The stainless pipes are less common than plastic pipes since they are hard to find and expensive than others. They are usually used in marine environments since it can resist saltwater which erodes other types of metal pipes.
• Galvanized Steel: The gray metal pipes have been used for exterior plumbing purposes in homes since the year 1960. The pipes have a life expectancy of around 40 years and are only slightly resistant to corrosion and rust. Most homes are now replacing the Galvanized steel pipes with copper or plastic versions. The pipe is usually available between ½ inches to 2 inches in diameter.
• Cast Iron: A few years ago, the pipe was used extensively for drainage purposes. They are durable but heavy which makes it difficult for the plumbers to work with them. A broken cast iron pipe can be replaced with a PVC pipe which joints well with the cast iron.
Advantages of plastic pipes
• The plastic pipes are cheaper
• They are light weight making it easy for the workers to transport and store
• The plastic pipes are easy to install and can be cemented together effortlessly with limited tools
• They can be recycled
Disadvantages of plastic pipes
• The plastic pipes are less adapting to all types of temperatures and should not be installed in high temperatures
• They are easily cracked
Advantages of metal pipes
• The metal plumbing is the most durable and last a lifetime
• The metal is affected by neither – hot and cold temperatures
• Metal plumbing can resist corrosion and rust well
Disadvantage of metal pipes
• All metal pipes are expensive than the plastic versions
• Since metal is heavy, the installation process is time-consuming and costly
• Metal is not as flexible as plastic pipes
Whenever the need arises to perform modifications and/or repair the plumbing pipes of your home – always use the same pipe as the original. If that is not possible and you can’t get your hands on the same pipe – then use the most comparable type which will work with your existing plumbing networks. Make sure you understand the advantages of each type of pipe – which will help you, perform the job easily and successfully.