06 November plumbing fixtures and a valve placed on a drawing of a house

5 Common Types of Plumbing Pipes You’ll Find in Homes

Posted by PlumbWize

Plumbing pipes are the kind of things that are just… there. You don’t notice them until something goes wrong, but they’re the lifelines of your plumbing system that deliver water to your faucets, showers, and toilets while carrying away waste and sewage.

Today, we’re giving you a rundown of the types of pipes in plumbing systems that you may find in your home. We’ll go over their advantages, their disadvantages, and some issues you need to take into consideration (such as frozen and burst pipes in the winter).

Let’s get started!

1. Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are one of the most popular types of plumbing pipes in modern homes, often found in sinks, showers, tubs, and more. They’re durable, long-lasting, corrosion-resistant, and can withstand high water pressure and temperature.

Generally, this type of plumbing pipe is used for hot and cold water supply lines within the house as well as outdoor water supply lines that are buried underground or exposed to freezing temperatures. They’re winter warriors.

 A plumber fixing a broken copper pipe

Pros of copper piping:

  • Long-lasting and reliable
  • Resistant to corrosion, bacteria, and fire
  • Recyclable and eco-friendly

Cons of copper piping:

  • Expensive and labour-intensive to install
  • Rigid and therefore impractical for tight spaces
  • Prone to pinhole leaks due to acidic water or soil conditions
  • Subject to theft due to its high scrap value

2. PVC Pipes

Next on our list of different types of pipes for plumbing is PVC.

PVC pipes are made of polyvinyl chloride, a type of plastic that is cheap, lightweight, and easy to cut and glue. They’re commonly used for drain lines, vent lines, and sewage systems, as they have a smooth inner lining that prevents clogs and backups.

You’ll find these types of pipes in plumbing systems because they’re resistant to corrosion, chemicals, and bacteria. However, while PVC piping can handle high water pressure, it’s not great at withstanding extreme heat. It may also leach chemicals into drinking water and pose environmental hazards when disposed of.

A plumber cutting a PVC pipe to shorten its length

Pros of PVC pipe:

  • Cheap and durable
  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • Resistant to corrosion and blockages

Cons of PVC pipe:

  • Environmental concerns
  • May warp when heated
  • Prone to freezing and bursting

3. PEX Pipes

PEX pipe is a different type of pipe for plumbing made of cross-linked polyethylene (a flexible plastic tubing that can be easily snaked through walls and floors).

They’re often used for water supply lines and hydronic heating systems because they can handle both hot and cold water, and can be connected with push-fit fittings that don’t require soldering or special tools.

While resistant to corrosion, freezing, and bursting, PEX plumbing is incompatible with some types of metal fittings and valves as well as high temperatures. They may also degrade when exposed to direct sunlight or chlorine.

 PEX pipes installed in a home

Pros of PEX pipe:

  • Affordable and easy to install
  • Flexible and adaptable to tight spaces
  • Resistant to freezing, scaling, and chlorine

Cons of PEX pipe:

  • Not suitable for high-temperature applications
  • Vulnerable to UV rays and rodents
  • May leach toxic chemicals upon disposal

4. Cast Iron and Galvanized Steel Pipes

Cast iron and galvanized steel pipes are some of the oldest types of plumbing pipes, and you’ll rarely see them in modern homes. Nonetheless, they’re heavy, strong, durable, and can last for decades if properly maintained.

Galvanized steel and cast iron pipes are often used for drain lines and sewage systems due to their durability and sound insulation. However, they’re susceptible to corrosion and may require careful monitoring and maintenance, particularly in older installations.

galvanized steel pipes

Pros of cast iron or galvanized steel pipe:

  • Heavy, strong, and quiet
  • Resistant to fire and abrasion
  • Long-lasting and reliable

Cons of cast iron or galvanized steel pipe:

  • Expensive and labour-intensive to install
  • Prone to rusting and corrosion
  • Difficult to repair or replace

5. ABS Pipe

ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a plastic pipe that’s most often used for drain, waste, and vent (DWV) lines within the house.

It’s similar to PVC pipe but more rigid and impact-resistant. However, while being more tolerant of hot water than PVC, these types of pipes in plumbing systems are still prone to warping or even melting when exposed to extremely high temperatures.

Some local building codes may prohibit ABS usage, so make sure you’re consulting with your municipality or a professional plumber to know for sure!

Pros of ABS pipes:

  • Rigid and impact-resistant
  • More tolerant of hot water
  • Resistant to corrosion and blockages

Cons of ABS pipes:

  • More expensive than PVC pipe
  • May warp when exposed to direct sunlight
  • Makes a lot of noise

Work with Knowledgeable Plumbers at PlumbWize

The different types of pipes for plumbing systems have their pros and cons. Some are better suited to survive the winter while others are prone to freezing, which can be especially frustrating as you navigate the bitterly cold Canadian winters.

We at PlumbWize can help! We’re a trusted provider of residential and commercial plumbing services. Whether you need to install new pipes, repair damaged ones, or thaw out frozen ones this winter, we’ve got you covered with over 60 years of experience.

Give us a call to learn more about our reliable plumbing services!

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