No one likes broken or dripping pipes. But, maintaining residential plumbing pipelines can be tricky.
After all, every plumbing pipe comes with specific service life, durability, and longevity. You can’t really expect them to stay in top shape for eternity. So, it’s only natural to change the plumbing pipe of your house from time to time to avoid any unprecedented flooding and leaks at home.
However, choosing a suitable plumbing pipe can be a bit overwhelming. There are different types of pipes that have different functions. So, you need to select the pipe that matches the plumbing requirements of your house.
And that’s why we’re here to help you. We’ve carefully curated a list of different types of plumbing pipes. After going through our guide, you might get a better idea about the suitable plumbing pipe for your needs
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
Different Types Of Plumbing Pipes
A. Main Plumbing Pipes
Main plumbing pipes used to be much simpler and were limited in the earlier days when you primarily had only two options to choose from — galvanized steel pipes or cast-iron pipes. However, the choice is not that simple in the present day.
Over the years, we’ve witnessed various types of main plumbing pipes emerging in the market. And in this section, we’ll discuss the salient features of each of these.
1. Copper Pipes
Copper pipes have become widely popular because of their longevity and durability. They can last over 50 years without any corrosion or leakage. So, if you’re looking for a pipe that won’t start dripping any time soon, then copper pipes might be the best option.
Moreover, copper pipes come in two varieties that can fit your home’s plumbing system — rigid copper pipe and flexible copper tubes. You can use the rigid copper pipe for the primary water supply line throughout the house. In contrast, flexible copper tubes are more suitable for tight spaces, like the supply line to your bathroom faucets, because of their malleability.
Additionally, copper pipes are available in different sizes that range from 15 mm to 108 mm. They are also measured in three grades of thickness, Type M, Type L, and Type K, where Type M is the thinnest and Type K is the thickest. On that note, Type M and Type L pipes are widely used in residential plumbing.
Furthermore, copper piping is aesthetically pleasing. So, if you’re planning to design exposed plumbing for the house, you can always go for some copper. The copper pipes are also bacteria-resistant and help in transporting drinking water around the house. Hence, along with enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your home, copper piping can promote better health.
2. PVC Pipes
Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is one of the most common plumbing pipe materials used for residential pipelines. The material is essentially made from plastic and vinyl and can easily withstand high water pressure. So, if you decide to use a PVC pipe for the water distribution systems, you won’t be facing the issue of burst pipes often.
Similarly, it can easily transport water throughout the house without any leaks. That said, it is a good choice for the main water supply line of the house and for the bathroom and kitchen water supply pipes.
However, PVC doesn’t work well with hot water. Like most plastic pipes, PVC pipes cannot withstand high temperatures. Heat can lead to the melting of the pipe material. But, on the bright side, PVC pipes are relatively inexpensive. The installation process is also much more straightforward than metal pipes. Not only that, but these pipes are incredibly lightweight and easy to carry.
So, you can just glue them together. Simply put, there is no soldering or heavy work required. You might not even need to hire a professional expert to install a PVC pipe. Hence, you can be saving a few extra bucks by choosing PVC pipes for your residential plumbing system.
3. PEX Pipes
Along with PVC, polyethylene is a popular plastic piping material for making plumbing pipes. Polyethylene pipes, especially cross-linked polyethylene pipes or PEX pipes, are newcomers in the market and have become the latest rage among customers.
Now, the question arises — why use PEX piping when we already have the very popular PVC pipes? It’s because PEX pipes are much more flexible than PVC pipes. As you’re well aware, there’s no hard and fast rule that residential plumbing pipelines will always go in straight lines. You will need to find flexible pipes that fit into the tight corners, nooks, and crannies of the house.
And that’s where PEX pipes shine over PVC pipes. They are not only more flexible than the latter but also much easier to cut and fit together. Thanks to their cinch clamps, crimping rings, and barbed fittings, PEX pipes do not require any gluing or soldering during installations. Hence, putting them together is more manageable than working with PVC or metal pipes.
Another essential quality that gives the PEX piping an extra edge over the PVC pipes is their heat-resistant quality. That said, you can easily use PEX pipes in your bathroom or kitchen to transport hot water. However, the only downside of a PEX piping is that it cannot withstand direct sunlight as it is sensitive to UV lights. Thus, you can’t use it outdoors.
4. Galvanized Steel Pipes
Galvanized steel pipes used to be one of the most common choices for residential plumbing systems until a few years back. There are many people who still prefer to go with a galvanized steel pipe system instead of experimenting with any other piping materials.
These galvanized pipes come with a layer of zinc coating that is meant to prevent rusting. However, the zinc coating gradually wears off in most cases, and the pipes become unsuitable for transporting clean drinking water. And although these pipes are durable, the rusting often causes leakages.
Furthermore, once the corrosion sets in, it can cause severe lead poisoning by polluting the water. Additionally, the rusting can cause clogging of the drains owing to mineral build-up over time.
So, if you have an old plumbing system with galvanized steel pipes, it might be time to change the pipes.
5. CPVC Pipes
CPVC pipes or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipes are very similar to PVC pipes because both are made from the same basic elements. The only difference is that CPVC pipes are chlorinated. This chemical difference offers an added advantage to CPVC pipes over PVC pipes as they can withstand high temperatures, unlike the latter.
So, many building codes prefer CPVC pipes over PVC to safely transport hot water. On that note, CPVC pipes are well-equipped to handle high water temperatures of upto 200℉. Hence, you need not worry about hot water melting and weakening the pipe joints with CPVC pipes like with PVC pipes.
Furthermore, CPVC pipes are available in both the sizing systems of PVC pipes and copper piping. They also provide the same longevity and ability to handle high water pressure as the PVC pipes. Plus, they are as lightweight and easy to install as PVC pipes. Needless to say, installation won’t be a problem if you plan to switch to CPVC from your traditional PVC piping.
However, costing can be a problem if you compare CPVC pipes with regular PVC pipes. The CPVC pipe costs are a lot more than its close relative. So, if you’re indeed planning to install CPVC pipes, it is best to consider your budget carefully.
6. ABS Pipes
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene pipes or ABS pipes are similar to PVC pipes, except for their black color and softer texture. The ABS pipes are mainly used in drain lines because of their agility. That said, you can easily fit them into tight spaces and corners, where it is usually impossible to fit regular PVC pipes.
It is also stronger than PVC pipes, and naturally, more durable. Additionally, the ABS pipe performs well in cold temperatures and is effective in transporting cold water throughout the house. It is an ideal pipe material for cold water supplies.
However, ABS pipes can be very noisy. So, most building codes do not allow the installation of these pipes. Also, they are not heat-resistant and are easily warped under high temperatures. Considering how it cannot withstand high temperatures or transport hot water, using an ABS pipe for your shower drain line may not be the best idea.
B. Additional Plumbing Pipes
Now that you’ve looked through all the major types of pipes, it’s time to discuss the not-so-popular piping options as well. It is always better to keep your options open while choosing suitable plumbing pipes for your house.
So, we decided to dig deep and come up with an additional unconventional list of plumbing pipes. Let’s take a look!
1. Stainless Steel Pipes
Stainless steel pipes are not so popular among customers because of their high price. They cost even more than a good copper piping. But, the high price of the stainless steel pipe also ensures its high quality.
Indeed, stainless steel is one of the most corrosion-resistant piping materials because of the presence of chromium. Hence, it can be a good fit for your plumbing system.
Furthermore, stainless steel is ideal for houses near coastal areas that experience high humidity, because of which pipes are more susceptible to rusting. Hence, by choosing the stainless steel pipe, you can avoid rusting plumbing pipes around your house.
Additionally, stainless steel pipes are low-maintenance, especially compared to copper pipes. First off, you don’t need to clean it regularly to prevent corroding. It is also inert to any sort of chemical reaction and doesn’t affect any other metals with which they come in contact. So, you can safely use it in your water distribution systems, along with other metal pipes.
2. Cast Iron Pipe
Cast iron piping or ductile iron piping is commonly used in sewer lines and drainage systems. After all, it is highly durable, strong, and heavy, making it an ideal choice for commercial and residential drainage systems. That said, cast iron pipes were widely used in residential homes a few years back.
However, new construction codes often prevent PVC pipes or other plastic pipes over cast iron pipes owing to rusting problems. Cast iron pipes are not rust-resistant. The pipes become prone to leakage and corrosion when the rusts start to build up inside the pipes. So, if you’re having rusted cast iron pipes, change them immediately before they burst and end up flooding your house.
Furthermore, as cast iron pipes are seriously heavy, Cutting through the cast iron piping to replace it with other metal or plastic pipes can be a troublesome ordeal. Hence, repairing the pipes can be a huge problem if they burst due to excessive rusting.
3. Polybutylene Pipes
Polybutylene pipes or PB pipes used to be a popular choice of plumbing pipes back in the 1990s. Most of the houses built during that time included some kind of PB pipes in their water distribution systems.
Back in the day, Polybutylene was seen as a futuristic piping material. It is essentially a plastic resin that is an ideal option for replacing the expensive copper piping. So, if you’re running on a tight budget, PB pipes might be a good choice as it is practically inexpensive. They also fall under the genre of plastic pipes and are extremely lightweight and easy to handle.
So, what exactly went wrong with PB pipes that they went out of fashion? Well, the answer to that question lies in the leaky joints of the pipes. PB pipes are much more prone to leakage as compared to any other plastic or metal piping. Hence, it’s no wonder that they’ve become less and less popular in the plumbing industry over the years.
4. High-Density Polyethylene Pipes
High-density polyethylene pipes or HDPE pipes are best known for their extraordinary durability and corrosion resistance. They are used in various plumbing applications owing to these qualities. That said, they are most prevalent in underground sewage lines, especially those with a traditional PVC and metal conduit.
Moreover, HDPE pipes are almost totally leak-proof as they are connected through heat fusion. They are also much more flexible than PVC pipes and require fewer pipe joints for their connection. Hence, many building codes prefer to use HDPE pipes over PVC for their buried plastic piping lines.
Additionally, the monolithic and lightweight structure of the HDPE pipes makes it easier to carry them from one place to another without disrupting the environment. These pipes are also resistant to chemicals and can be a good choice for transporting potable water.
Furthermore, the abrasion-resistant quality of these pipes makes them suitable to carry abrasive liquids without causing any damage. So, they are widely used for agricultural and industrial purposes, along with residential water distribution systems.
5. Flexible Pipe Connector
Flexible connectors, or simply known as Flexi pipes, are used as final plumbing connections in the water supply lines for toilets, sinks, water heaters, and other household appliances. As you’ve already guessed from the name, these pipes are highly flexible and agile. So, you can easily fit them in small spaces and tight corners, such as under the kitchen or bathroom sink.
Furthermore, they are heat-resistant and can withstand high temperatures. Hence, you can easily install it with your bathroom shower for transporting hot water. Additionally, these Flexi pipe connectors can also be used to carry natural gas, so they are quite versatile in their applications.
However, durability is a major issue with these pipe connectors. They are very thin and prone to leakage and breaking. Also, they can be really expensive. So, all in all, they might not offer a good value for your money.
6. Black Iron Pipes
Black iron pipes are not usually the top pick when we talk about plumbing pipes. They used to be quite popular as plumbing pipes a few years back. But, with the emergence of plastic pipes and steel pipes, black iron pipes have taken a step back in the plumbing industry.
The primary drawback of using black iron pipes for your water distribution systems is their lack of durability and corrosion resistance. Water can easily corrode these pipes as they do not have any protective coating on their smooth inner lining. So, when it comes to the water supply lines of your house, black iron pipes might not be such a good choice.
However, these pipes are still the first choice when it comes to residential and commercial gas lines for transporting propane and natural gas. Additionally, the black iron pipes are usually preferred over galvanized steel pipes for the fire sprinkler systems because of their high resistance to fire. Thus, you can use these pipes for the central gas line of your house.
7. Polypropylene Pipes
If you want a plumbing pipe for both hot and cold water systems of the house, polypropylene pipes or PPR mines can be a good fit. PPR pipes and pipe fittings are designed to withstand high temperatures upto 80℃ as well as high pressure. They also come with a service life of at least 50 or so years.
Furthermore, the PPR pipes are resistant to corrosion and do not overgrow. Hence, continuous transport of hot and cold water doesn’t affect the structure of the pipes. Additionally, being a type of plastic pipe, these are extremely lightweight and easy to install. The PPR pipes are also non-reactive to most chemicals. So, they are perfect for transporting disinfectant and antiseptic solutions.
Moreover, apart from residential plumbing lines, these pipes are also used in industrial applications because of their high resistance to water pressure.
Choosing the right plumbing pipe for your house can be confusing if you don’t know much about the diverse types in the first place. Anyhow, we hope our article has helped you gain a new perspective regarding the most widely used pipes that are currently trending in the plumbing industry.
We’ll suggest that you carefully consider your budget before rushing into installing the pipes. Also, it is best to hire professional experts while setting up the pipe connections to avoid any long-term damage to your residential plumbing system.
On that note, go for pipes that are durable and can handle high temperatures and water pressure. In addition to this, check out the quality of the material before making a final decision
And on that note, we’ll be signing off. Until next time!