WHAT TYPE OF PLUMBING PIPE IS BEST?

Today’s blog post will examine a common question regarding residential plumbing pipes, and the large assortment of them that exists. Residential plumbing pipes come in many varieties and types of metaland plastic pipes. Each pipe has their pros and cons and particular special usages in your home. Understanding your options is the first step when considering a large repiping project for your home.

Copper Pipes (Metal)

Pros of Copper Pipes:

  • Proven standard for reliability since the 1960’s
  • Not prone to leaks
  • Durability: Fitting stay tight and sturdy
  • Will not pollute your drinking water
  • Old pipes can be recycled
  • Long life span
  • Heat Tolerant

Cons of Copper Pipes:

  • Price: 100 feet of straight copper pipe costs about $285
  • May contain lead-based solder in older homes

Extra Information:

  • Comes in these sizes
    • M = Very Thin Walls: Optimal for interior hot and cold supply lines
    • L = Medium Thickness: Optimal for interior hot and cold supply lines
    • K = Thickest Walls:  Optimal for underground service lines

Galvanized Steel (Metal)

Galvanized pipes are hardly used in the construction of today’s modern homes due to the negative effects that were caused by galvanized pipes. Our modern homes might not have galvanized pipes now, but homes built between the 1930’s and the 1980’s, having galvanized pipes is a common occurrence. Most homes that have galvanized pipes need to be re-piped to ensure removal of all the lead in your home’s piping. Copper, PEX, and HDPE pipes are often used to replace galvanized pipes.

Cons of Galvanized Steel Pipes:

  • Very heavy pipes making it difficult to work with
  • Zinc coating causes internal rusting
  • Can lead to reduced water pressure and clogged water lines over time
  • Lead can be released in the tap water through corroded pipes
  • Discoloration of water

Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes or PVC Pipes (Plastic)

Pros of PVC Pipes:

  • Does not rust, corrode, or degrade over time
  • Very good for your home’s sink, toilet, and bathtub drain lines or vent stacks
  • Often used for the main water supply line into your home
  • Great at carrying high water pressure
  • Inexpensive
  • Very easy to work with

Cons of PVC Pipes:

  • Cannot handle hot water, can warp when exposed to hot water

Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes or CPVC Pipes (Plastic)

Pros of CPVC Pipes:

  • Contains extra chlorine making it safe for drinking water
  • Pipes are easy to work with it and can be used by DIYers
  • Can be used for hot and cold water supply
  • More flexible than PVC pipes

Cons of CPVC Pipes:

  • Will split if it freezes
  • Cannot recycle old pipes

Cross-Linked Polyethylene or PEX Pipes (Plastic)

Pros of PEX Pipes:

  • Best for retrofits
  • Extremely versatile – can snake through walls easily and can extend across house with one piece of PEX pipe
  • Can be used for hot and cold water supply
  • Very heat resistant

Cons of PEX Pipes:

  • Because of how they are produced many environmentalists fear potential for contaminating drinking water
  • But this piping has been approved for usage in some of the strictest environmental regulating states in the U.S.

If you feel you want to speak with a professional about the type of plumbing pipe work you have in your home, contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing today: (319) 365-6792
Other Metal Pipes:

  • Stainless Steel: Strong and corrosion-resistant, but are more expensive than copper piping
  • Cast Iron: Very durable, but very heavy. PVC joins well with cast iron if you need to replace part of a cast iron piping.
  • Black Iron: NEVER to be used for plumbing, black iron is used for carrying gas.


Other Plastic Pipes:

  • Grey Plastic Polybutylene or PB Pipes:  Inexpensive replacement for copper, easy to work with and install. These pipes are prone to leaks.
  • High-Density Polybutylene or HDPE Pipes: Flexible, highly resistant to corrosion and possesses a long life span. Can be used for a wide variety of plumbing applications.

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