The Pros and Cons of 5 Types of Plumbing Pipes

There are many kinds of pipes, each with their own pros and cons. There are situations where one type makes more sense than others. This article will focus on pipes used for residential plumbing, so some special-case materials, like black iron for fire sprinkler systems, will have to be left off.

Plumbing Pipes

Copper Pipes

It may be unfair to lump all types and sizes of copper piping together, since they can range from 18mm to 108mm (in diameter), from rigid to flexible, but it is still copper.

PROs:

A. Has a lifespan of about 50 years

B. Malleable and durable, minimizing the chance of leaks at joints and in pipe walls

C. Bacteria-resistantTolerates extreme heat and cold

CONs:

A. Has worse environmental impact compared to other materials relatively expensive, with just a foot of copper piping costing $2-$8

Galvanized Steel Pipes

A former favorite amongst builders and plumbers, this material is no longer considered a good alternative for residences.

PROs:

A. Relatively inexpensive

B. Rust-resistant thanks to zinc coating

C. Lifespan of 20-50 years

CONs:

A. Prone to lead contamination

B. Relatively heavy

C. Easy to compromise, leading to rapid rusting and damages if the galvanized zinc coating is breached

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Pipes 

PVC pipes come in a multitude of thicknesses and configurations, with the “NSF-PW” and “NSF-61” labels denoting types meant for potable water

PROs:

A. Longest-lasting, being impervious to rust and corrosion

B. Easy to join together and to transport, thanks to its remarkable lightness

C. Highly affordable, with price per foot ranging from 0.50¢-$2Can handle high-pressure flow

CONs:

A. Ill-suited to high temperatures, it can be warped by very hot water, or can even combust when exposed to fire

B. Not good for tight spaces because of limited size range

CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride) Pipes

CPVC pipes come in even more sizes and thicknesses than its cousin, PVC

PROs:

A. Almost all the pros of regular PVC, plus the ability to handle hotter water (up to 200℉)

CONs

A. More costly than PVC

B. Only suitable for indoor use, since it is weak to sunlight

PEX (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) Pipes

PEX pipes are the new favorite standard of piping amongst many construction and plumbing professionals.

PROs

A. All the pros of regular PVC plus the added bonus of flexibility and bendability, which makes it easier to store, to fit in tight spaces, and to connect for long distances

CONs

A. Only suitable for indoor use, since it is weak to UV light

B. Sometimes leaves an off-putting taste or odor in drinking water, which lead some to conclude it is unsafe to use, but ongoing research suggests otherwise

There’s a lot more to learn about pipes. If you want to talk to some experts on the topic, be sure to call (219) 322-4906 to get in touch with Reichelt Plumbing, expert plumbers servicing all of Northwest Indiana plus South Cook County in Illinois.

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