Starting a kitchen or bathroom renovation project may bring you to the question of whether it is worth hiring a plumber or whether you can install water pipes yourself. But whatever option you pick in the end, it may be pretty confusing when it comes to choosing pipe materials. Various pipes are used for different purposes. Some of them may be perfect for gas supply, while others are commonly used for water supply, drainage, sewer systems, or even exterior. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right material that corresponds with your application and space. Let’s find out what is the best plumbing pipe for your house.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIPE TO USE FOR PLUMBING?
Using an improper plumbing system may cause water problems in your local apartment or the whole building. Therefore, you need to take it seriously and provide reliable water distribution systems for each individual case. For example, there will be different types of pipes for private houses and apartments, as well as for hot and cold water supply.
Sometimes it may seem you can save money by choosing plastic material instead of copper pipes, but it’s not always possible. You’d better ask a professional plumber for advice or consider additional financing if it will not work without paying more. Even if you have some credit issues, it’s better to find a proper lender that can give you a home repair loan with bad credit than to deal with an insurance company after an emergency. Also, it may cost you more, in the long run, to redo the whole work and eliminate a negative outcome. Therefore, you need to choose plumbing pipes carefully, taking into account such factors as temperature, pressure conditions, and piping materials.
Actually, plumbing material is one of the most crucial factors that determine its operating conditions. Let’s take a closer look at the most common material types of plumbing pipes.
A PVC pipe (or a polyvinyl chloride pipe) has been used for more than 70 years now and is pretty popular with homeowners. Most modern homes nowadays have PVC piping, at least partially. PVC is a type of plastic that suits for sink and toilet drain lines, irrigation piping, main supply lines, pools, drainage pipes, and spas. However, it’s not recommended to use PVC pipes to carry hot water as it can lead to material breakdowns.
WHICH PVC PIPE IS BEST FOR PLUMBING?
First of all, we need to understand what types of PVC pipes are. There are only two of them – schedule 40 PVC (has a white color) and schedule 80 PVC (has a dark-gray color). But their design is not the main difference between them. Schedule 80 pipe has a thicker wall, so it is stronger. Therefore, it can handle higher pressures compared to a schedule 40 PVC pipe. A schedule 80 pipe is better for hot water systems and jobs that require higher pressurization, while a schedule 40 PVC pipe is the best for drainage, irrigation, and other cold water systems.
● Convenient to use for irrigation or other long runs;
● PVC pipes are easier to work with compared to metal pipes;
● PVC piping allows you to forget about corrosion, rust, or degradation.
● Can’t be used as hot water pipes;
● Using plastic harms the environment.
If you start a DIY home repair and are looking for a plumbing pipe that is easy to install and replace, a CPVC pipe is a great option for you. The chlorinated polyvinyl chloride piping provides more strength and flexibility for your water supply lines due to a much higher chlorine content. Thus, these plumbing pipes are longer-lasting compared to PVC pipes.
● Don’t weigh much and are flexible;
● Resistant to corrosion and rust;
● Can be used for both hot and cold water applications.
● Less stable than copper pipes as the material can get more fragile over time;
● Can be used in outdoor systems due to UV sensitivity.
A PEX pipe (also known as a cross-linked polyethylene pipe) has been used for water supply lines since the late 90s and has gained dizzying popularity very quickly. PEX pipes are considered to be replacing copper pipes as they are rigid enough to high water pressure and flexible enough to be installed in the wall or ceiling. Therefore, PEX pipes are deservedly considered to be one of the best among all types of plumbing pipes.
● Suits for both residential and commercial plumbing;
● Have clear color codes for hot and cold water supplies;
● Have an affordable price;
● Demonstrate excellent flexibility.
● PEX piping is a relatively new technology that is not tested for long-term capabilities;
● Not the best choice for a drain line.
RIGID COPPER PIPES
Copper piping is a great choice for hot and cold water supply lines. You can also use it to carry drinking water as it carries no risk to your health. If you need to use copper pipes in tight spaces, there is also an option for you. Just use flexible copper pipes.
● Can withstand high water pressure and heat;
● Good for the environment;
● Rust and corrosion resistance.
● Copper piping usually requires the solder-type connection, which calls for having appropriate skills;
● High material cost;
● Require additional fittings.
CAST IRON PIPES AND GALVANIZED STEEL PIPES
If you’re living in an old building, you probably know what a galvanized steel pipe and a cast iron pipe are. Cast iron and galvanized pipes are rarely used in modern buildings as they tend to rust and corrode over time. However, a cast iron pipe can still be used today. Some parts of modern water distribution systems contain cast iron pipes. Typically, cast iron piping is used for sewer systems or other drainage lines. However, when it comes to residential plumbing repairs, a metal plumbing pipe is usually replaced with plastic piping.
● Galvanized steel pipes are able to reduce the water moving noise;
● Strong, durable, and heat resistant.
● Not corrosion resistant;
ABS pipes (or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene pipes) are rigid plastic pipes that are used specifically for drain lines and waste piping. They are known for withstanding low temperatures and being easy to install.
● Good for low temperatures;
● Highly durable;
● Can be used for the underground exterior.
● Can be deformed under direct sunlight;
● Typically prohibited by building codes.
BRASS PIPES FOR PLUMBING
Brass pipes are known for being, perhaps, the longest-lasting compared to other pipe materials. They are easy to work with and very strong, so many builders recommend homeowners to go for brass instead of plastic. Also, brass pipes go well with brass connecting fittings that are easy to find and install too.
● Extremely durable;
● Flexible, can be easily adjusted;
● Don’t deform and rust;
● Have a good temperature conductivity.
● High cost.
TIPS ON CHOOSING THE BEST PIPES FOR PLUMBING
When buying a pipe for water supply, homeowners are more likely to choose the optimal ratio between affordable price and acceptable quality. However, it’s not always rational to lean toward the project’s economy. Here are some criteria you need to consider to determine the best option for you:
● Budget: Of course, your financial situation influences the type of plumbing pipes you pick. But keep in mind that sometimes it’s better to overpay than to deal with an insurance company after water damage.
● Type of water: Sometimes water can be corrosive, for example, if you live in a coastal area, so you should keep it in view when choosing pipe material.
● Sunlight affection: For example, it’s not a good idea to use plastic pipes for spaces with access to direct sunlight.
● Soil characteristics: If your soil is full of excess rocks and moisture, it can break down less strong pipes.
● Local building codes: Your local building code is the first you need to refer to ensure the type of material you choose meets the municipality’s specific requirements for designing and amending a plumbing system.
● Water pressure you want: If you want high water pressure, choose wide and durable pipes.
BOTTOM LINE: WHICH PIPE IS THE BEST FOR PLUMBING?
PVC, CPVC, PEX, rigid copper, cast iron, galvanized steel, ABS, and brass pipes are the most common plumbing pipes people usually use for plumbing systems. Some of them are used only to supply water, while others are multifunctional. Thus, it’s hard to tell for sure which type will be better for you without knowing your budget, home size, and specific preferences. If you’re going to start a DIY project and have some doubts, seek advice from a professional plumber to avoid common mistakes that can lead to high costs of plumbing repairs.
Guest Contributor: Helen Beasley