4 Common Pipe Materials Used in Homes

From showering and washing clothes to running the dishwasher and flushing the toilet, the various pipes moving water and waste in and out of the home do a lot of work. A combination of water supply and drain, waste, and vent pipes are used throughout the home to create an effective and efficient plumbing system.

Even though there are so many feet of pipes running in and out of the home, most homeowners do not place much importance on them. Understanding the different types of piping that may be found in your home is smart for preventative maintenance and possible repairs. Here are a few common pipe materials you may have in your home.

1. PVC/CPVC

PVC pipes are made using polyvinyl chloride, which is a durable, versatile, and affordable option for your home’s plumbing needs. In most cases, PVC pipes are used for cold and hot potable water or sewage applications.

Of course, you may be surprised by the different numbers used to size PVC pipes. Schedule 40 and schedule 80 PVC pipes are most common.

Basically, the higher the number, the thicker the PVC walls are. Therefore, a schedule 80 PVC pipe has thicker walls than a schedule 40. A thicker wall is beneficial for higher temperatures, so a schedule 80 PVC pipe would be an option for supply lines coming from your hot water heater.

It is important that you do not confuse PVC with CPVC pipes. While PVC plumbing consists of white pipes with large or small diameters, CPVC, or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, pipes have a smaller diameter and a yellowish tint.

2. PEX

PEX pipes come in white, red, or blue and these colors are used for a good reason — they help you determine and label which lines are used for hot (red) and cold (blue) water supplies. Or you can use white PEX lines if preferred.

PEX pipes are made from a flexible plastic material that is surprisingly durable. With proper installation, PEX plumbing lines can last up to 30 years or longer in some instances.

PEX offers the durability of copper without the risk of rust and corrosion. If you live in an area with acidic water that can rust your plumbing lines, PEX is a great option to reduce the risk of corrosion and underlying water leaks in your home.

Another benefit of PEX is the cost. If you want durability without the high expense, choose PEX because it costs about a third less than copper.

3. Copper

If you live in an older home, you may have copper pipes. Copper is durable and can withstand higher temperatures and pressure, but it can also develop rust and start to corrode, affecting the taste, smell, and quality of your water.

Copper is also expensive, so replacing a damaged copper pipe can be a costly project. Because of the cost, many homeowners forego copper and repipe their entire plumbing system using PEX or PVC pipes.

4. Galvanized Steel

Gray metal pipes are made out of galvanized steel. This material became popular for plumbing in homes built in the 1960s. If your home has galvanized steel pipes, replacing them will be recommended.

On average, galvanized steel can last about 40 years. Unfortunately, the coating inside the galvanized steel pipes eventually wears down, flaking off, rusting your pipes, and affecting your home’s water supply.

If you are not sure whether your older home has galvanized steel pipes, check the water pressure. Turn on a hot water faucet. If the pressure is low, the pipes are most likely made of galvanized steel, since hot water pipes are the first to corrode.

For assistance determining what type of pipes are used in your home or to start a repiping or repair, contact Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter today.