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Pros and Cons: Different Types of Pipes

You probably do not pay much thought to the different kinds of pipes used in your house. Many people probably could not tell you whether their house uses copper pipes, PVC pipes, or some combination of the various kinds of pipes. Each of the various kinds of pipes has their own pros and cons.

While the plumber will usually tell you what kind of pipes your house needs, it can still be valuable to know about the different kinds of pipes, as well as what the advantages and disadvantages are of each type of pipe.

Copper piping

Copper pipes are sort of the “old reliable” of the piping world. Starting in the 1960s more and more plumbers began installing copper piping in homes. Since then, copper piping has become by far the most popular type of piping and chances are your house has at least some copper piping in it. Copper piping has been shown to be extremely durable; in many cases, houses will have the same copper piping that they had when the home was first built.

So, what are the pros of copper piping? First off, it is dual purpose, which means that it can be used for both indoor plumbing and for outdoor plumbing. Secondly, copper pipes are incredibly durable. If they are taken care of, they will rarely ever leak. Its longevity is a big part of the reason why copper piping is preferred by most plumbers. Copper piping also has no issues transporting either cold or hot water, which makes great for residential use. Finally, copper pipes have the ability to be recycled. This not only cuts down on waste but allows older copper pipes to be used in the making of new ones.

Copper piping isn’t perfect, however (if it was, there would be no point in having other types of piping). For example, copper piping does not do well in cold temperatures. In some climates, this obviously isn’t a big issue, but in any climate where the temperature can drop rapidly, people need to take precautions to stop their copper piping from freezing and bursting. Also, copper piping was sometimes finished with lead soldering, which of course could be deeply hazardous. Thankfully, plumbers have been vigilant over the years in identifying and fixing copper piping that still uses lead soldering. If you are concerned about your copper piping still having its lead soldering, call a plumber as soon as possible and get them to examine your piping. Finally, copper piping is expensive when compared to other types of piping. For example, just 30 metres of copper piping will usually a couple hundred dollars.

PVC piping

PVC (which is short for Polyvinyl Chloride) piping is a form of plastic piping. It is widely used in many homes, and although it is not as widespread as copper piping, it certainly is not uncommon. PVC piping is often used to bring water into home.

It has numerous advantages over other types of piping. First off, it is very cheap, especially when compared to very expensive copper piping. More importantly, PVC piping requires very little maintenance. PVC pipes do not rust or corrode over time; so, they have an insanely long lifespan. PVC piping is also really good at handling high water pressure, which is why it tends to be used to bring water into homes.

The downside to PVC piping is that because it is made of plastic, it cannot handle extreme heat. So, PVC piping cannot be used to transport hot water, otherwise, it will start to warp and degrade.

There is another PVC piping called “CPVC” piping. The CPVC stands for “Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride.” The main difference is that this type of piping can handle hot water and it is safe to carry drinking water due to the presence of more chlorine.

PEX piping

PEX piping (the PEX stands for “crosslinked polyethylene”) is a newer form of plastic piping that is uncommon but is increasingly becoming more popular.

The pros of this kind of piping are that it is extremely resistant to most common piping problems, such as leaks, corrosion, rusting, etc. It is suitable for use in both hot and cold weather. The plastic has the ability to expand, which prevents it from bursting. It is also extremely flexible, which makes it easy to install.

The major downsides to this type of piping are that it can’t be used outside (the UV rays given off by the sun can lead to plastic leaching into the water) and it is extremely expensive. Although, on the subject of cost, it should be noted that while it has initial costs, the fact that it doesn’t corrode or rust, means that you probably end up saving money because you will rarely ever have to call a plumber.

Galvanized steel piping

This is an outdated form of piping made from galvanized steel piping. It was used extensively until the 1980s, but concerns over the presence of lead and zinc in the piping led to it being phased out in favour of copper piping. If you still have galvanized steel piping in your home, you need to get it removed and replaced with another form of piping quickly. Galvanized steel rusted very easily, which led to dangerous chemicals being released into the water (notably lead) and the water becoming discoloured. It was also far more expensive and much heavier than other types of piping, which made it a pain to work with.

Although you may sometimes find other materials used in your home’s piping, this article has covered most of the main forms of piping. If you want to switch your home over to using a different kind of piping, you are going to want to give a plumber a call and get them to check out your home’s piping. The plumber will be able to investigate the feasibility of changing over your home’s piping and can inform you about what type of piping will work best in your home.