We all know that to have a functioning plumbing system, you must have functioning piping. In many ways, you can think of your pipes as the veins of your plumbing system, pumping water and gas around your house the way your veins pump blood and oxygen around your body. Yet many people don’t even know what kind of pipes they have, or what makes them the right choice for their home. Keep reading to learn about the five most common types of household pipes, and for all your essential plumbing services, just remember to contact our experts at EnviroSafe.
1. PEX Piping
PEX pipe, also known as cross-linked polyethylene pipe, is among the newer and more popular piping options currently available to homeowners. PEX piping is great for water specifically because it is extremely rigid, and can withstand high amounts of pressure, but is still flexible enough to be easily installed throughout virtually any type of household. From walls and ceilings to basements and crawlspaces, ask any home improvement expert, and they’ll tell you PEX is a great choice for your water needs (it should be noted, however, that PEX piping is ONLY used to transport water, not gas or sewage.)
Other pros of PEX piping is that it is easily color-coded for hot and cold water (i.e. red for hot, blue for cold,) can be installed in 90-degree curves to weave through tight spaces, is available with push-fit plumbing fittings, and can be cut easily. PEX pipes are also inexpensive, and can easily be joined with coppering piping, too. One downside is that this type of material cannot be recycled, and it is possible for PEX piping to spring a leak if the fittings are not tight enough. Overall though, PEX is a great choice for homeowners looking to upgrade their current plumbing network.
2. PVC Piping
Another poly-based piping material, PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a type of piping often used in residential properties for drain and vent lining. PVC first came to popularity because it is light-weight and easier to install than traditional galvanized steel piping, which eventually fell out of use for drainage, gas supply, and water transportation, due to the fact that they are more prone to corrosion. You can also cut through PVC piping with your average hacksaw and it can be easily glued together with solvents.
The biggest advantage of PVC pipe is that if is extremely affordable, and can therefore be used for irrigation lines that need to span a long distance. As mentioned above, it is also easier to work with than copper or steel, and its white surface allows you to clearly mark diameters. On the other hand, PVC piping cannot be un-joined, and must be cut to make adjustments. Glue pipes like PVC can also degrade in sunlight, and may be prone to leaks depending on their construction.
Cons aside, PVC piping is still a top choice for wastewater and gas. Keep in mind though, it is NOT tough enough to withstand high water pressure, and should therefore never be used to transport your home’s drinking water.
3. Copper Piping
Copper piping, or to be more specific to the plumbing industry, “rigid copper piping,” is another common choice for water supply lines in homes across the country. Rigid copper is another material that can easily be cut with a hacksaw, or with a special copper tube cutter, so it is fairly easy to use during the home construction process. And unlike other types of metal, rigid copper does not come with the risk of deterioration or chemical runoff—another reason it is a great choice for water transportation.
Other pros of installing rigid copper piping include that it handles heat well, can withstand extremely intense pressure, and is easy to recycle (waste copper piping even has some monetary value.) The downside of copper is that it is more expensive to install than PEX or PVC piping, and if you are a DIY kind of person, it can be quite difficult to work with, due to its soldered connections. However, if you have no problem paying a little more and hiring a plumber to get your pipe installation done, copper is definitely an excellent option.
4. ABS Piping
Less well-known than the other types of piping mentioned above, ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene pipe is primarily used for vent and drain lining, much like PVC pipe. In fact, ABS piping even looks a bit like PVC pipe, with the notable exception that it is black instead of white. It is also slightly softer to the touch, despite the fact that it is often stronger than PVC in the long run.
ABS piping is a good choice for underground pipe installation given its significant durability. That is to say that it will hold up against the elements, and will continue to function well throughout cold weather and storms. The main problem with ABS pipes? In many places, they are not permitted by building codes, as ABS piping tends to be constructed from recycled materials that can become warped and deformed at high temperatures. So while ABS pipes gained initial popularity due to their environmentally friendly nature, they are used less these days because they simply are not as reliable as other piping options. Bottom line: make sure you check your municipal building codes before moving forward with ABS pipe installation.
5. Flexible Connection Pipes
Flexible connections, or as they are more commonly referred to, “flexi pipes,” are pipes used specifically in the final connections for your appliances. What does this mean? Basically, it means that you will only see flexi pipes attached to equipment like water heaters, toilets, sinks, and so forth. Typically, they are made from braided stainless steel that has been crafted over rubber, though they can also be constructed using non-corrosive materials such as aluminum alloys and corrugated bronze. There is also flexible PVC piping, though this is typically used more for insulation on electrical wires.
Flexible connections come in many shapes and sizes and can be used in the installation of both domestic gas and water appliances. Due to the fact that they are literally made to be flexible, they are great for installing appliances in tight, cramped spaces, and because they are manufactured for use with both gas and water appliances, they are also capable of tolerating very high temperatures. Keep in mind, however, building codes usually regulate flexible connections to the part of your appliances you can
see—which means they are not allowed to be installed inside your walls/ceilings or under floors. They can also be expensive, and if you install your flexible connections wrong, they are likely to break. That said, it’s fairly likely that you have some flexi pipes in your home, so it is worth talking to your technician the next time you are getting an appliance installed, to ensure you end up with the best kind.
For All Your Piping Needs, Call EnviroSafe Today
At EnviroSafe, our skilled plumbers have everything you need when it comes to getting the best pipes for your home. From bathroom remodeling to kitchen upgrades, we know how to make sure your plumbing system is built to last and your pipes are strong and reliable. Contact us today for more information about piping projects, including frozen pipe repairs, whole-home repiping, water line installation, as well as sewer line and drain cleaning. We are known across the area for always getting the job done right, so whether you are lines are old and corroded or you just need to take care of a sudden burst pipe, we are here to deliver complete satisfaction.