Plumbing can be used in many ways, from carrying water to your kitchen faucet to delivering waste to your sewage system. These types of exchange and delivery systems have existed since ancient times. The Greeks used clay pipes to carry water to homes and the public buildings. With the transition into the early 20th century, materials such as cast iron, terracotta, copper, and galvanized steel became more and more popular.
As our understanding of lead poisoning has evolved, things have evolved even more. Today, there are many different types of tubes available, each of which is used for a specific purpose. This list consists of PVC, PEX, ABS, copper, galvanized steel, and cast iron pipe. Check the information below to find out more.
5 main types of plumbing pipes for your home’s plumbing system
1. PVC pipe
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes are commonly used as part of a sink, toilet, or shower drain line. PVC pipes are ideal for this type of use because they protect water from rust and corrosion better than other types of pipes. This ability makes PVC pipes incredibly durable. Unless it’s prone to some kind of damage, PVC pipe will last indefinitely.
PVC pipes are also able to handle high water pressure. This is why it can act as the main water supply line in your home. It is also a lighter material, making it easier to work with than traditional galvanized steel pipe options. PVC pipes have a soft inner liner as well, which protects against sediment buildup and makes it more resistant to clogs.
Disadvantages surrounding PVC pipe include limited size options, inability to tolerate hot water, and concerns about toxicity. Although PVC pipe meets all standards set by the American National Standards Institute, there are concerns that it may introduce polyvinyl chloride chemicals into drinking water, potentially causing respiratory and reproductive problems. This is why some states have banned plastic plumbing pipes from carrying drinking water.
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2. PEX Pipes
PEX, or cross-linked polyethylene, also refers to affordable plastic pipes commonly used for water supply lines. Similar to PVC pipe, it prevents rust or corrosion from seeping into the water.
Professionals remain attracted to PEX pipes because they are flexible and easy to weave through walls, ceilings, basements and crawl spaces. At the same time, it is strong enough to withstand the stresses of your water supply. Interlocking polyethylene pipes for hot and cold water are also color coded, making it easy for plumbers to identify and organize them while they work.
3. ABS Pipes
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) pipes are similar in nature to PVC pipes but are easy to identify based on their black color. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is also particularly flexible to cold temperatures. It is mostly used for ventilation and drainage lines.
Although this type of plumbing pipe is easy to install, it can deform when exposed to direct sunlight. ABS pipes are also noisier than other types of plumbing pipes, causing turmoil among some homeowners.
4. Copper pipes
Copper pipes have been a staple in the plumbing industry for decades. This type of plumbing pipe can last for more than 50 years and is most commonly found in sinks, showers, tubs, and other fixtures in new and old homes. Copper pipes are still popular with plumbers and homeowners alike because they are corrosion resistant and best suited to protecting water quality.
Copper pipes are able to handle high water pressure and withstand hot and cold water temperatures. It can also be recycled, making it a somewhat environmentally friendly option.
However, there are some drawbacks to consider. Due to its extreme hardness, plumbers cannot use copper pipes in confined spaces. It is also the most expensive type of the plumbing pipe. As the price of copper continues to rise, so will the costs of any project involving copper pipes?
5. Cast iron and galvanized steel pipe
Cast iron and galvanized steel pipes are rarely included in new construction, although they are most commonly found in homes built in the early 1900s. However, cast iron plumbing pipes are incredibly durable and are still used as parts of water distribution systems today.
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Cast iron pipes are usually used as sewer pipes or other drainage purposes. Its popularity stems largely from the fact that it is heat resistant and reduces the sound of water movement.
Unfortunately, cast iron pipes are susceptible to rust and corrosion. Over time, this will affect their ability to maintain a clean water supply. These types of pipes have largely been replaced by copper pipes or PEX pipes in residential plumbing repairs.