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When it comes to plumbing installation and repairs, the piping you have in your home can have a major influence on how much you pay, as well as how often you can expect to perform maintenance and have a professional plumber make adjustments. Keep reading to learn more about the five most common types of plumbing pipe and what you can expect in terms of their advantages and disadvantages.
PVC pipe has many residential and commercial uses, but it’s often used in plumbing systems, particularly for vent pipes, drainpipes and pipes that carry waste away from homes and businesses. One of the main advantages of using PVC pipe in a plumbing system is that it is relatively lightweight, but it also offers a high level of chemical resistance, making it more durable than some materials. PVC is also more flexible than copper or steel, making it a good choice if you hire a plumber to update the plumbing system in an older home. The flexibility of the PVC may help you avoid having to knock out walls or make other expensive modifications just to upgrade your plumbing. Additionally, water flows quickly through PVC pipes, which may help prevent blockages and ensure you have adequate water pressure.
Galvanized pipe was used in older homes, so you may come across it if you buy a fixer-upper or set up a business in an older commercial building. Although galvanized pipe is no longer used in new plumbing systems, it did have several advantages, including a high level of durability and low maintenance costs. Despite these advantages, galvanized pipes have a tendency to rust; in some cases, mineral buildup can also cost costly blockages. If you recently purchased an older home with galvanized pipes, contact a plumber to find out if you can hold off on updating your plumbing system or if the pipes need to be replaced right away.
PEX stands for polyethylene cross-linked pipe, and it’s typically used for water lines. PEX material is extremely flexible, making it a good choice if you want to update the plumbing system in an older building. If you were using PVC pipe to update an older system, you’d probably have to install several elbow fittings. That’s not the case with PEX due to its flexibility. It bends as much as 90 degrees, making it easy for a plumber to install water lines in tight spaces.
If you live in an area that regularly sees freezing temperatures in the winter months, PEX pipe has an added benefit. Most plumbing pipes lack flexibility, which means they’re likely to burst if the water freezes. PEX is flexible enough to expand slightly when temperatures drop, reducing the risk of winter plumbing mishaps. That doesn’t mean PEX never freezes, but the risk is much lower, which can help you avoid having to call a plumber. PEX is also ideal for plumbing systems in areas with hard water, as it doesn’t corrode as easily as other types of pipe when exposed to minerals.
When it comes to durability, a plumber would tell you that copper pipe is the gold standard in the plumbing world. Copper stands up to high levels of water pressure, which means that copper pipes last for decades with proper care and maintenance. The lifespan of copper pipe depends on several factors, including how much you use your plumbing system, the quality of your water and the climate in your area. For example, assuming everything else is equal, copper piping is likely to last longer for a married couple with no children than it is for a married couple with three children, as the larger family is likely to take more showers, do more loads of laundry and run the dishwasher more often.
Your plumber may recommend copper pipe if you live in an area known for extreme temperatures, whether you live in hot, humid Fort Lauderdale or snowy Colorado. In the winter, copper pipe is less likely to freeze than piping made out of other materials, which could save you money on maintenance and repair costs. You may also want to choose copper pipe if you’re concerned about sustainability. Copper is recyclable, and the manufacturing process produces less pollution than the processes used to make other types of piping.
The cost of copper pipe is one of its main drawbacks, although the higher price is more than made up for with the durability of copper piping. If you use well water, ask your plumber if copper pipe is a good choice for your plumbing system. The copper doesn’t hold up well to acidic conditions, which means you may start to have problems quickly if your well water has a low pH level.
ABS pipe, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, is used for vent pipes, drains and waste. Unlike some materials, ABS pipes don’t have a rough interior, which means the flow rate should be fairly high. ABS is inexpensive, easy for a plumber to install and doesn’t erode like other types of piping. The main drawback is that it can’t be used for drinking water, limiting its use in a large plumbing system. Additionally, ABS isn’t suited for outdoor use.
Whether you’re building a new home or looking to update the plumbing in an older building, it’s important to work with an experienced, reliable plumber. Hiring a professional can save you money in the long run, as a plumbing professional has the knowledge needed to assess your living environment and determine the right piping materials to use for new construction or plumbing updates. Call bluefrog Plumbing + Drainat 1-844-HOP-TO-IT to schedule a time for one of our professional plumbers to give you an estimate.