The basic purpose of home plumbing pipes is to carry water to and away from appliances in your home. Many people take pipes for granted, but it’s important to know about the different types of pipes and which ones will work best for you and your home.
Read through this article as we compare and contrast the different pipe types and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
PEX pipe is best used for water supply lines. PEX — or cross-linked polyethylene — is durable plastic. PEX tubes usually come in diameters between 3/8-inch and 1 inch in residential applications. They’re also often color-coded — red for hot water and blue for cold water.
Benefits of PEX Pipe
Consider the following benefits of PEX pipe:
Durability: PEX pipe withstands water pressures because of its rigid design.
Flexibility: Despite the rigidity and strength of PEX pipe, it’s also flexible enough to weave inside walls, ceilings, etc.
Price: PEX pipe is inexpensive compared to many other materials used for piping.
Simple to install: PEX pipe cuts easily so you can adapt it to your home.
Drawbacks of PEX Pipe
Even though there are many benefits of PEX pipe, there are some cons as well, including:
Permission limitations: PEX pipe is not permitted everywhere in the U.S. and must be installed properly and carefully. To find out if PEX tubing is allowed in your area, contact the authorities who have jurisdiction over plumbing. You can also ask a plumber who has experience serving your area.
Sustainability: PEX pipe cannot be recycled, making it a relatively unsustainable choice for your home.
PVC pipe is one you probably have heard of. The purpose of PVC pipe often involves water supply, waste removal and drainage. And because PVC pipe is made of plastic, homeowners do not need to worry about metal or corrosion inside the tube.
PVC pipes often come in a wide range of diameters, some of the most common being between ½ and 4 inches. Smaller pipes are sometimes used in sink drains and plumbing vents.
Benefits of PVC Pipe
There are many benefits of PVC pipe:
Lightweight: PVC pipes are easier to work with than metal alternatives. They’re also fairly durable.
Inexpensive: Plastic pipe options are often less expensive than metal alternatives.
Length: PVC pipe works great for irrigation purposes or other lines that need to be very long.
Drawbacks of PVC Pipe
Some of the drawbacks of PVC pipe include:
Connection method: PVC pipes get joined together via solvents that act like glue. If they’re not installed correctly, they are prone to leaking.
Degradation: PVC pipes can degrade when exposed to sunlight.
Can’t handle high pressures: PVC pipes work much better in low-temperature and low-pressure applications, such as a toilet drain.
Copper pipes have a shiny appearance and are primarily made of copper. They’re most often intended for use in water supply lines.
Benefits of Copper Pipe
There are many benefits of copper pipes, such as:
No health risks: Although plastic pipes are inexpensive, they can leach chemicals or lead. These health risks are not present with copper pipes.
Durability: Copper is quite durable yet still reasonably easy to cut with a tubing cutter or hacksaw. Copper is also durable in the face of heat and high temperatures.
Sustainable: You can easily recycle copper pipes, making them a sustainable choice for your home.
Drawbacks of Copper Pipe
Consider these cons of copper pipes:
Price: Copper tends to be fairly expensive, more than plastic pipe alternatives.
Challenging to install: You definitely won’t be able to install copper pipes yourself because doing so often requires a process called soldering. If you want to install copper pipes, you’ll need help from a professional.
ABS pipes are often intended for drain and vent lines. This type of pipe is made of a thermoplastic resin and is black and softer than PVC pipe.
Benefits of ABS Pipe
ABS pipes can be beneficial due to:
Strength: ABS pipes are stronger than PVC pipes.
Temperature tolerance: ABS pipes work well in cold and hot temperatures.
Longevity: ABS pipes are designed to last, making them a great choice if you want to build new plumbing systems.
Drawbacks of ABS Pipe
Some drawbacks of ABS pipes include:
Degradation: ABS pipe can degrade when exposed to the sun.
Limitations: Often, ABS pipes are not permitted according to the building code.
Flexible — or flexi — pipe is usually made of stainless steel. It’s usually best suited for the piping connections to appliances. For example, flexi pipe might connect pipes to water heaters or sinks.
Benefits of Flexi Pipe
Here are some benefits of flexi pipe:
Temperature tolerance: Flexi pipe can withstand very high heat.
Flexibility: As the name suggests, flexi pipe can fit in small or oddly shaped areas.
Drawbacks of Flexi Pipe
Here are some downsides of flexi pipe:
Price: Flexi pipe tends to run expensive.
Durability: Flexi pipe is prone to breakage because it’s thin.
Limitations: You usually cannot use flexi pipe inside of floors or walls.
Galvanized Steel Pipe
Galvanized steel pipe is best used for water supply lines, drain and vent lines. Galvanized steel pipe is often found in older homes. While it is still around, it’s not used as often as it once was, partly due to its price.
Benefits of Galvanized Steel Pipe
Check out some of the benefits of galvanized steel pipe:
Durability: Galvanized steel is relatively durable and can withstand different elements because it is made of steel and is corrosion-resistant.
Tried and true: Galvanized steel pipes have been used for many years and were revered for being a good lead-free pipe alternative.
Drawbacks of Galvanized Steel Pipe
Many of the drawbacks of galvanized steel have to do with its outdated nature. Some cons include:
Price: Galvanized steel pipe is expensive, especially considering its level of durability compared to other types of pipe.
Installation process: It is often difficult to install galvanized steel pipes.
Potential to rust: Even though galvanized steel is corrosion resistant, it is prone to rust. Many people choose to retrofit their galvanized steel pipes with copper or PEX lines for this reason.
Schedule an Appointment With Dick Ray Master Plumber
Dick Ray Master Plumber was founded in 1949 in Kansas City. Since then, we’ve continued doing conscientious work in plumbing, heating and air conditioning. We serve areas across Kansas and Missouri and can help you with any of your plumbing needs.
We understand you might want to update your home’s plumbing based on effectiveness or aesthetics. If you have questions or concerns about your pipes, give Dick Ray Master Plumber a shout. Contact us today to schedule an appointment online!