Not all pipes are created equal. Depending on the age of your plumbing system, you likely have a variety of water supply pipes running through your home. While most pipe materials can withstand wide temperature ranges and have a decently long lifespan, certain pipes perform better than others (and for longer).
Continue reading to learn about four of the most common types of water supply pipes.
1. Galvanized steel
Galvanized pipe is made out of galvanized steel, treated with a zinc coating to prevent corrosion. If your home’s plumbing system was installed prior to the 1970s, you likely have galvanized piping.
While galvanized pipes are a more dated option, they are still very effective in water supply plumbing. Galvanized pipe typically lasts between 40-50 years, and broken or aging pipes can be updated with fittings and threaded pipes depending on your specific needs.
2. PVC/CPVC plastic
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is one of the most popular modern materials for water supply pipes. While it is durable, PVC piping is best utilized for cold water, hence why it is commonly used for pools, drainage pipe, and water mains.
If you need a water supply pipe material that functions in both cold and hot temperatures, CPVC is a better choice. CPVC can withstand temperatures up to 180ºF, depending on the pipe’s schedule. As far as durability goes, well-maintained PVC and CPVC pipes typically last for 50-70 years.
Copper pipes are a great material choice for both hot and cold water distribution systems. Copper is available in different thicknesses, depending on your needs. While copper piping has a relatively long lifespan (roughly 50 years), it can be prone to thinning, resulting in small leaks which can be problematic. Copper pipes are still widely available today, though they are not typically the go-to material due to the amount of labor in installation and the overall price of the material.
4. PEX plastic
The latest material to hit the market for water supply pipes is PEX, which stands for cross-linked polyethylene. PEX is one of the most durable piping materials available and is able to withstand both hot and cold temperatures. Many new construction homes will contain PEX plumbing, as well as homes with radiant heating. PEX is a popular choice for contractors and professional plumbers, due to the flexibility of the pipes and ability to install quickly.
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Do you know what material your home’s plumbing consists of? If your plumbing is reaching an older age, or you’re beginning to experience problems such as leaky pipes, it might be time to consider an update to the system.