Piping Options for Different Plumbing Applications
Different pipe materials have been used over the years for supply and sewer lines. Your home’s piping may depend on when it was built. Whether you’re just curious about the plumbing in your home, or you’re considering a whole-house re-piping project, you may find this information useful.
Water Supply Line Materials
The most common piping options for the supply side of a plumbing system include:
- PEX: Cross-linked polyethylene is a flexible piping material that can be bent around corners with no glue or joints required. It’s strong, corrosion-resistant, and expands and contracts without weakening. It’s a favorite for making major pipe upgrades to older plumbing systems.
- CPVC: Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride possesses all the benefits of PVC with added durability. It’s used when PVC properties are desired, but PVC isn’t usable, such as in hot water supply lines and drinking water pipes.
- Copper: Over the decades, copper has proven to be corrosion-resistant and reliable. It’s also relatively soft and easy to fabricate. However, copper may develop pinhole leaks and is more expensive than plastic piping.
- Chromed copper: The aesthetically pleasing appearance of chromed copper makes it a popular choice for exposed water supply lines, such as the tubing for antique toilets, clawfoot tubs, and pedestal sinks.
Waste Water Line Materials
Here are today’s most popular choices for residential drainpipes:
- PVC: Polyvinyl chloride is the standard home waste line material. It’s strong, rigid, chemical- and heat-resistant, and easy to cut and fit. It’s often the go-to material for repairing existing cast iron pipes.
- Chromed brass: Often used in lieu of PVC when appearance is important, chromed brass has a bright, shiny finish perfect for exposed drains and traps. It’s easy to cut with a hacksaw and is joined with slip fittings.
- Cast iron: This heavy-duty drainpipe material was once commonly used for soil stack waste lines and vent pipes. It’s strong and long-lasting but heavy and difficult to cut. For these reasons, PVC is almost always the preferred material for new construction and renovation projects.
Outdated Plumbing Materials
If your older house has pipes made of the following materials, seriously consider whole-home re-piping:
- Galvanized iron: While this was once a popular water supply line material, it eventually fails due to corrosion and rust. For this reason, it has largely been replaced by copper or PEX piping.
- Lead: For many years, lead was commonly used for piping. Contact the city’s water department to find out if your older home has lead pipes. If so, you should have the supply line replaced to avoid exposing your family to the dangers of lead.
Every home eventually needs to be re-piped. If your home is more than a century old, you see corrosion on exposed pipes, or you’re already completing other home improvements, now might be the right time to re-pipe your house.
To learn more about your piping options, or to schedule a plumbing inspection, please contact Mike Counsil Plumbing today.