What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Different Types Of Piping Materials?

You may be moving into an older home or experiencing problems with the pipes in your existing home and are considering replacing all of the pipes in your home to avoid future leaks. This kind of plumbing repair is a massive undertaking, and a service that you should only need to do once, so it's best to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the various options in pipe replacement.

Your basic choices for supply lines are galvanized steel, copper, CPVC, and pex. Each material is suitable for piping and has its pluses and minuses.

Galvanized Steel

If you live in a house that's several decades old, it's probable that your home is supplied with galvanized piping. Galvanized steel pipe can last for up to 100 years before failing, but will corrode internally toward the last decades of its lifespan. This corrupts drinking and bathing water and reduces water pressure.as the pipes narrow from accumulated corrosion.

Galvanized steel repiping is one of the more expensive options because of its durability and difficulty of installation. Although still available, copper is the preferred metallic piping.

Copper

Next to galvanized steel in durability, copper is expected to last for several decades of use. While copper will still corrode over time, it may produce small pinholes rather than fill with accumulated corrosion and contaminate drinking and bathing water.

Copper piping shares galvanized steel's structural integrity and the ability to withstand physical trauma such as accidental impacts or heat from home fires. It's durability also comes with a price, because copper is the most expensive material used for piping. It also requires higher installation costs than CPVC or Pex because it must be soldered for installation.

CPVC

CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride) is a type of plastic material that is gaining in popularity because of its lower material and installation costs. It is a rigid type of tubing, just like galvanized and steel pipe, invulnerable to rust or corrosion, and can last for decades of service.

CPVC is installed with adhesives that create chemical welds for seamless connections, reducing labor costs. While CPVC is relatively durable, it is still vulnerable to trauma from accidental cutting or extreme heat from fire. 

Its lesser cousin, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) pipe, while not suitable for supply pipes, is the most popular choice for drain line repiping, 

Pex

Pex is a flexible type of reinforced plastic pipe that is also growing in use because of its inexpensive material and installation costs. Because of its flexibility, it can be installed in long runs without the need for multiple connections for changing direction, as with the rigid pipe choices. The few connections required are performed using metal bands and a crimping tool.

In the end, the choice is up to the homeowner. However, the advice of a licensed plumber can help a great deal in deciding which option is the right choice for your individual needs.


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