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Types of Pipes: What Do You Have?

Have you ever thought about what your plumbing is made of?  Before you begin a plumbing project, you may want to find out what kind of pipes your home has.  This will help you decide if they should be repaired or replaced.  It’s likely that you have several different kinds of pipes in your home, especially if you live in an older home that has had additions or been remodeled.  It’s important to know what kind of pipes you have, because different kinds of pipes must be repaired in different ways.  Also, some pipes are only suitable for certain types of plumbing uses.

While many different materials have been used for plumbing in the past, including wood and clay, here is a list of the types of pipes you are most likely to find in your home.

 

Plastic:  Most homes built after the mid-seventies have plastic piping due to its low cost, ease of use and durability.  ABS was the first type of plastic plumbing to be used in homes.  These black pipes are not as popular today since they’re known for coming apart at the joints, and some plumbing codes don’t allow for it at all.  White or cream colored PVC is the most popular type of pipe today.  You can find the temperature rating and diameter of PVC pipe by the markings on the sides.  PVC won’t rust or corrode, but it isn’t suitable for hot water.

Plastic industrial tubes closeup

Copper:  Copper piping is often used in water supply lines.  Although it is more expensive than PVC, it is known for being extremely durable.  There are several thicknesses available for different applications.  Copper comes in both rigid and flexible forms and is resistant to heat.  The joints must be soldered together, which means it isn’t prone to leaks. 

Copper Tube

PEX:  PEX (or cross-linked polyethylene) is a type of piping that has come onto the plumbing scene rather recently.  These flexible pipes resemble hoses and require fewer joints than more traditional materials.  This type of pipe comes in different colors, so red can be used to indicate hot water and blue used for cold water.  PEX requires special tools and fittings, and is more expensive than PVC or copper.  It works great for supply lines but is not used for drains.

Cast Iron and Steel:  These types of pipes haven’t been used much in the last few decades.  They are more difficult to work with than other materials and require a professional plumber.

 

Knowing what kind of plumbing you have will make a big difference when planning a repair or remodel.  Older pipes may need to be replaced when they become corroded or full of sediment.  An addition to your home, such as a new or remodeled bathroom, may also be a good opportunity to replace outdated plumbing.  When you’re ready for repairs or remodels, be sure to call A&W Plumbing!