Plumbing: Types of Pipes
Plumbing is part of many remodeling projects, whether the plan is to install a small clean-up sink in a garage or the project is a bathroom addition or a complete kitchen or bathroom remodel. Whether you are doing the remodel yourself or you are hiring a contractor, you will need to make some decisions about pipes. If you have a contractor, s/he will be able to guide you in choosing the most appropriate pipe for your project.
There are many types of pipe, and some are more appropriate for specific jobs than others. To help you with the decisions, here is an overview of the main types of pipe used in residential remodeling.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) can be used only for cold water. PVC is most often used to carry water from the main supply to a home. If you decide to use PVC, be sure that the pipe you choose is approved for drinking water.
ABS (acrylonitrite-butadiene-styrene) is use for waste removal, drain and venting, primarily in bathrooms. It is a rigid plastic pipe that can be connected to several kinds of metal pipe. If you are considering this kind of pipe, you will need to check with your contractor or your local building codes office because ABS is not permitted in some localities.
PEX can be used to carry both hot and cold water. It is often used for interior water pipes in residential plumbing.
CPVC (chlorine-polyvinyl-chloride) is generally used to carry hot water, and is often used as a substitute for copper pipe.
Cast Iron is used in some parts of the country for drainage. It is very strong and very durable. The challenge in using cast iron is that it is hard to cut and it is very heavy. If your project involves replacing cast iron pipe, a good choice is PVC because it can be joined with cast iron.
Copper is a good choice for both hot and cold water supply lines, and is very corrosion-resistant. It is light and durable, but costs more. If you are replacing copper pipe, a good choice is CPVC.
Galvanized steel is not used much today because it will corrode over time and because it is hard to work with. It was used in the past for water supply lines.
If you are doing the plumbing work yourself, you might want to use plastic pipe because it is easier to work with. The key to using plastic pipe, which is also less expensive, is to wrap plastic pipes tightly to prevent the escape of noise because plastic pipe can be very noisy.
With this information, you should be able to make some informed choices about the type of pipe best suited for your specific project needs.