What to look for in terms of purpose, affordability, and longevity.
Whether you are building a brand new home, or are performing upgrades on your current one, understanding how residential plumbing works, and knowing what plumbing pipe is best for your home is important. Is PVC the way to go? Some sort of metal, for sturdiness? Is there really a difference or is it a matter of preference?
Knowing which type of pipes to use in your home can improve the longevity of its plumbing systems, and in some cases, increase the value of your home. Each type of piping has its own pros and cons. Becoming aware of the industry standards can help you make an informed decision.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to the plumbing in your home:
The room and purpose can affect your decision- A shower or sink pipeline deals with different waste than a toilet or even a kitchen sink. So knowing the appropriate materials for each purpose is essential to the integrity of your home’s plumbing. You may choose to standardize your piping or pick and choose depending on the intended purpose.
Plastic is the most common material used for plumbing in modern homes. Plastic piping ranges in affordability and durability, and are usually chosen based on their intended purpose of use.
Types of Plastic Piping
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) – PVC is immune to corrosion, making it the preferred form of piping since the 1970s. This inexpensive, easy to use piping lasts for decades. However, it does contain BPA, which raises some health concerns. Many plumbers like it because it can be simply glued together at the joints, using primer and liquid and cement. In some neighborhoods, PVC does not live up to local code. Stronger types of PVC, such as XFR, are more resistant to chemicals and thus tend to meet most local restrictions. XFR tends to be a bit more expensive than standard PVC.
ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) – This piping is less flexible than PVC. At one time, this was the preferred type of residential plumbing. People switched over to PVC after finding that ABS joints tend to come loose. While easier to install, ABS is more likely to be deformed in the sun. ABS holds up well against impacts, making it a good candidate for underground pipes.
PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) this is the newest type of plumbing pipe, designed for residential use. PEC cuts easily and is very flexible. However, permanent connections require the use of a crimping tool to seal the gap. PEX also tends to be about three to four times more expensive than copper, or the other types of plastic bathroom plumbing.
Metal has mostly fallen out of favor for plumbing purposes. It tends to be prone to decay and corrosion. Those that are a bit more resilient tend to be a bit harder on the wallet.
Types of Metal Piping
Lead- Lead pipes are usually only found in old homes. Due to the toxicity of the substance, you will not even find lead pipes available for sale in your local home improvement or plumbing supply store.
Cast Iron- Cast Iron has fallen out of favor since the rise of plastic pipes. The main advantage of Cast Iron is for sound reduction and heat resistance. You will typically find cast iron pipes in homes built before 1960. These pipes are durable but tend to rust over time. The good news is that rusted sections can easily be replaced with PVC or ABS.
Copper- Copper pipes are still frequently used in the modern home. Copper is heat resistant and resists corrosion. You will usually find it used for water supply lines, drains, dishwashers, refrigerators, and other home appliances. Bacteria do not thrive in copper piping, adding to the reasons why copper piping is more expensive than most forms of plastic.
Steel- Steel pipes were, at one time, very common in homes. These pipes are strong, but tend to only last for about 50 years.
Knowing which pipes are right for your home means you have to ask yourself a few questions. Before making a final decision, ask yourself:
- What area of the home am I trying to replace the pipes in?
- Do I want this to be a permanent or temporary fix?
- Do I need a full pipe replacement or just a few repairs?
- How much am I willing to spend?
- Am I worried about potential chemical byproducts?
- Will I need the assistance of a professional plumber?
For simple repairs, such as tightening a seal or clearing a clogged toilet, you may be able to figure it out yourself. Anything more complex than that will almost certainly require the assistance of a pro. Plus, a pro will be able to help you make an informed decision on what pipes, fixtures and other plumbing parts you may need for your home plumbing project.
If you are looking to replace, repair, or build a new plumbing system, Adams & Son Plumbing Service can help. We can install new fixtures, repair leaks and identify potential plumbing issues in your home. We will help you make the right choice when it comes to choosing the appropriate plumbing pipe for your home project.