When you think about your home’s plumbing system, it might seem pretty straightforward. One set of pipes brings clean water to the taps, and another set of pipes carries wastewater away.

But have you ever stopped to think about what all those pipes are made of and what their specific functions are within your home’s plumbing system? If one of your pipes bursts or is in need of repair, do you know what questions to ask your plumbers?

This article is designed to inform you about all five types of plumbing pipes that reside in your home. By learning more about how the different pipe types function, you will be better equipped to make decisions regarding your home plumbing in the future. This understanding can help you work closely with your local plumbing professional. 

Pros and Cons: Metal vs. Plastic Plumbing Pipes

You know that pipes are the backbone of your home’s plumbing system, but when it comes time to repair or replace a busted-out pipe, should you go with a metal or plastic piping option?

Well, there are a few things to keep in mind for each type of material. Metal is durable but rigid, and plastic is flexible but might wear out faster. Additionally, there are different options for specific types of pipe plumbing, even within the broader choice of metal or plastic.

To find out which choice will benefit you and your home the most, you might want to ask professional plumbers to give you some advice. In the meantime, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to the pros and cons of metal and plastic pipes:

Pros of Metal Pipes

Metal has some great advantages when it comes to plumbing. It’s the most common kind of piping in older homes. If you’re a resident of Everett, Lake Stevens, or Marysville, you are probably familiar with older homes, which means that it is likely you’ve seen some of these types of pipes up close and in person.

Metal pipes come in three kinds of metal:

  • Copper
  • Galvanized Steel
  • Cast Iron

While there are technically three types of metal piping, the one most plumbers today are focused on is copper. Copper is king in the world of plumbing.

It is used for your water supply and is completely safe to use within the home. There are no health risks associated with copper, and the material can withstand immense heat and physical pressure, making it an ideal carrier of your hot, highly-pressurized shower water.

Copper is also monetarily valuable, even when the piping itself is old or damaged. You can always sell copper scraps for money. If you need a plumbing repair on a water supply pipe and want to use metal piping, copper is a great choice! 

Cons of Metal Pipes

The only viable option for metal piping is copper. Due to advancements in plumbing technology, we now know that any other metal is inferior, and only copper can handle the highly abrasive effects of a home plumbing system.

Cast iron can rust through completely, and most plumbers use a hard plastic option (like ABS) to take its place. Furthermore, galvanized steel is no longer an option at all due to its highly erodible nature. This pipe material is only used for natural gas now.

Pros of Plastic Pipes

Plastic is the new kid in town with a lot of great qualities. Due to its malleable nature, this kind of piping is great for the twisting, corner-heavy walls of modern homes. It comes in a few different options, including:

  • PVC Piping
  • Flexi Piping
  • PEX Piping
  • ABS Piping

Each of these plastic pipes can be more or less difficult to work with, depending on the type, but all of them are relatively easy for experienced plumbers to use. You can be certain that your local plumbing professional can install and repair plastic piping with ease.

Cons of Plastic Pipes

Their flexible nature can also be a downfall. Some plastic pipes are not very strong under intense heat, pressure, or even sunlight. If circumstances in your home’s plumbing system become at all strained, you could be looking at a burst pipe.

It is also important to note that not all pipes are legally allowed due to different building codes. Depending on your place of residence, some areas may not permit one or more of these types of plastic pipes to be installed in your plumbing system.

It may come as a surprise to find out how many types of pipes are not used or allowed everywhere, but that’s what makes having a variety of pipe options so great.

While metal and plastic may seem very different at first glance, the one thing they have in common is the very careful considerations plumbers and zoning laws have when deciding on the best type of pipe to use in a home.

If you would like to know about what pipes are allowed in your area, ask a professional about the zoning laws for pipes in Everett, Lake Stevens, and Marysville.

What Do the Five Different Types of Pipes Do?

Each particular piece of piping has a purpose. Some pipes are meant to bring in the water supply, and others are meant for drainage or venting. There is even a type of pipe that is meant to connect externally with your kitchen and bathroom sinks.

Depending on where you live, there are some areas that do not zone for certain types of piping, which makes having a variety of choices even more important. If you are wondering about which pipe would work best in what role for your home in or near Everett, Lake Stevens, or Marysville, consider the following options:

Water Supply Pipes

Copper is strong and resistant to damage. It will not warp under heat or buckle under pressure. This metal is a tried and true option that has the capacity to last. However, it is a very expensive option when it comes to pricing.

PEX pipes are new on the market and are increasingly becoming the most popular choice due to their inexpensive nature and ability to be extremely flexible inside your walls. They can even connect with existing copper pieces.

However, because they are so new, it is not known whether they can last in the long term, and they may suffer from leakage.

Drainage and Vent Piping

PVC pipes replaced galvanized steel in the drainage department. This type of pipe will not rust or corrode, and it is quite easy for plumbers to install, making it ideal for pipe repairs. It is also inexpensive for homeowners. Unfortunately, this type of pipe is also prone to leaking and can degenerate in direct sunlight.

ABS pipes are stronger than PVC pipes and thrive in colder temperatures. This pipe works very well outside and underground. However, it is prone to warping under extreme climate conditions, and not all buildings allow its use in repairs or replacements.

Flexible Type, or Flexi Piping, is external piping used for appliances like toilets and sinks. It is resistant to high heat, and as its name would imply, very flexible.

This kind of pipe is perfect for tight corners. Similar to ABS piping, some building codes do not permit this type of piping to be used, and it is not allowed inside the floors or walls of your home.

Depending on what kind of pipe in your home requires repairs or replacement, your plumber can help you decide on the perfect type of pipe for your home.

Which Type of Plumbing Pipe is for You?

While in some situations your building’s bylaws may decide for you, each pipe offers you a unique set of advantages and disadvantages to your home’s plumbing system.

Your plumber may recommend one type of pipe over another due to a variety of reasons, such as zoning laws, your price point, the existing plumbing system, and the layout of your home.

Each of the five types of plumbing available to residential plumbing systems provides the home with valuable plumbing services that are sure to maintain the integrity of the dwelling.

If you live in or around Everett, Lake Stevens, or Marysville, our skilled plumbers can recommend the proper home piping in your area.

Contact Steve’s Plumbing for Plumbing Services

In the event that one of your existing pipes breaks or bursts, it is important to call a professional plumber right away so that we can fix the problem before it gets out of hand.

Trying to understand the ins and outs of plumbing pipes can be a bit confusing, but our team can make it just a little bit easier by helping you learn about all five different types of pipes used in home plumbing.

At Steve’s Plumbing, our team of skilled plumbers is here to provide valuable plumbing services and pipe repairs for the residents of Everett, Lake Stevens, and Marysville. Call us to schedule a plumbing service today!

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