When it comes to household plumbing, it’s important to know how to choose the right pipe. After all, if you don’t have the right pipe, you could end up with a flooded basement, an emergency plumber call, and a hefty repair bill.
To help you avoid any of these scenarios, here’s our beginner buyer’s guide on how to choose the right plumbing pipe:
What are the different types of plumbing pipes available on the market today
1. PVC Pipes:
PVC pipes are the most common type of plumbing pipe used today. They’re durable, easy to install, and available in various sizes and shapes.
They’re made from a plastic material that can withstand temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so they’re ideal for both hot and cold water. In fact, the most common application for PVC pipes is for drainage systems.
PVC pipes are also inexpensive because they don’t require any additional fittings, although they can be glued together using PVC glue. If you’re working with a limited budget, this is a great option for you.
2. Copper Pipes:
Copper pipes are more expensive than PVC pipes, but they boast superior performance regarding temperature and pressure resistance.
They can also last up to four times longer than PVC pipes and don’t require any additional fittings during installation because they’re soldered together.
Copper pipes are commonly used when it comes to larger projects that require long runs, such as extending the water supply to an outdoor shower or a lawn sprinkler system, because they’re highly resistant to corrosion and rust.
Plus, they can add a more attractive aesthetic to your plumbing system, so if this is important to you, then copper may be the way to go. That said, they do require regular maintenance, so don’t forget to factor that in.
3. PEX Pipes:
PEX pipes are a newer type of plumbing pipe that has been gaining in popularity due to their ease of installation and ability to bend around corners. They boast incredible flexibility and can even be used in cold climates.
PEX pipes are also cheaper than copper and PVC pipes, so if you’re looking to cut costs without sacrificing performance, then this is a great option for you.
That said, PEX pipes are not as durable as other types of plumbing pipes, like copper and PVC. They can become brittle over time, so they’re not used in areas with extremely cold temperatures.
4. Galvanized Pipes:
Galvanized pipes are steel pipes that have been coated in a layer of zinc to prevent corrosion. This makes them great for outdoors, as they can withstand a wide range of temperatures and moisture levels without corroding.
Plus, they’re strong and durable, so you can expect them to last for many years. Common applications include sprinkler systems, gas lines, and water supply lines.
That said, galvanized pipes are more expensive than PVC pipes and can easily become clogged with mineral deposits over time.
5. Cast iron pipes:
Cast iron pipes are the oldest type of plumbing pipe, and they’re still used in many homes today. They boast incredible strength and durability, so you can expect them to last for generations.
These types of pipes are commonly are usually used for drainage systems and sewage lines because they can easily handle heavy loads.
However, they’re also the most expensive type of plumbing pipe and require regular maintenance to prevent corrosion (due to their porous nature). Plus, cast iron is incredibly heavy, so installation can be a bit of a challenge.
Factors you need to consider when choosing a plumbing pipe
1. The application
Naturally, the type of plumbing pipe you choose will depend on the application for which it’s being used.
For example, if your project involves running a long distance, then copper pipes may be a good choice because they’re more resistant to corrosion and can handle longer runs than other types of pipes.
On the other hand, if your project involves drainage, then cast iron pipes may be the way to go because of their superior strength and durability.
2. The budget
How much money you have to spend on plumbing pipes is also a factor that needs to be taken into consideration.
If you’re working with a smaller budget, PVC or PEX pipes may be the way to go because they’re cheaper than other types of pipes. However, if your budget allows for it, then copper and cast-iron pipes may be worth the investment due to their excellent durability.
PVC pipes are generally the cheapest option at around $1 to $2 per foot. Copper pipes typically range from $2 to $5 per foot, while cast iron pipes can cost up to $20 per foot.
3. The environmental conditions
The environmental conditions of your project also need to be taken into consideration when choosing a plumbing pipe.
For example, if you’re working in an area with extreme temperatures, then PVC or PEX pipes may not be suitable because they can become brittle or even break in extreme cold.
Galvanized pipes, on the other hand, are much better suited for such environments because they can withstand a wide range of temperatures and moisture levels without corroding.
Similarly, if you’re working in an area with high humidity levels, then PVC pipes may not be the best option because they can become prone to mold and mildew growth. In this case, copper pipes may be a better choice because they’re more corrosion-resistant.
In addition, if you’re dealing with a flooded basement or emergency plumbing situation, then PVC pipes may be your best bet as they can carry large amounts of water quickly and are easy to install.
4. The installation process
You’ll also need to consider the ease of installation when choosing a plumbing pipe. Copper and cast iron pipes require professional installation due to their weight and complex structure, while PVC and PEX pipes are much easier to install.
Galvanized pipes can be a bit harder to install because they’re thicker than other types of pipes, but they can be done with the right tools and know-how.
If you’re planning on winging the installation process, PVC and PEX pipes are your best options, as they can easily be cut with a saw or pipe cutter.
5. Your local plumbing codes
Wherever you live, local plumbing codes will play an important role in determining the type of pipe you use.
For instance, some areas may require copper pipes for water distribution, while others might mandate that cast iron pipes be used for large-scale drain lines.
Before making a purchase, check with your local building authority to find out which type of pipe is allowed by your local plumbing codes. Failing to do so could result in fines and other problems.
The Bottom Line
Knowing how to choose the right plumbing pipe for your project can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
By taking into account the application, budget, environmental conditions, installation process, and local plumbing codes of your project, you’ll easily decide which type of pipe is best suited for the job.
From there, all that’s left to do is pick the right pipe for your project, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful plumbing job. Good luck!