September 28, 2021

What are the different types of plumbing pipes?

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Since the invention of plumbing, the material used to make the pipes has been a determining factor in people’s choices. In the early days, clay and lead pipes were used. At the beginning of the twentieth century, terra-cotta, cast-iron galvanized steel, and copped became popular in the piping industry. Lead piping was also standard until World War II. Lead poisoning made the popularity of lead piping fall and was replaced by galvanized screw pipes, especially for plumbing inside homes. Later on, copper was introduced into the market, followed by polybutylene, though found to corrode with chlorine and consequently banned from being used in homes.

Currently, there are various types of plumbing pipes-some made from new materials and old classics. Each has pros and cons, which you should weigh before deciding what to use in your home. This post will cover the most recommended ones, why they are popular, and their drawbacks. Same day trades agree that the kind of plumbing you install in your home directly affects your quality of life.

Major Plumbing Pipes

The most popular plumbing pipe materials are copper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), galvanized steel, and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC).

Copper pipes

Copper is the most ancient pipe material that is still in use today and a popular option too. Copper pipes are available in two options which can be used interchangeably in a home’s whole piping system.

These are:

Rigid copper: This is hard copper used throughout the premises or home for water supply. A plumber Adelaide, will cut and use a soldering iron for attachment.

Flexible copper: This copper material is soft, supple, and used in short runs where the spaces are tight, such as supplying faucets and round corners to various installations.


Copper is available in different sizes. They are labeled in millimeters of the length of the diameter from one outside edge to the other.15mm and 22 mm are the most popular sizes. 18mm is also available and several sizes above 22mm and further up to 108mm.

You can choose the rigid copper according to its thickness. There are three categories of thickness that you can choose while plumbing your home:

Class M: This set is for drains, waste, and vents piping (DWV). It is the thinnest and mainly used for cold and hot supply in homes.

Class L: It has a medium thickness and is commonly used for supplying drinking water in homes. Similar to class Suitable for hot and cold supply lines.

Class K: This type has a thick wall making it suitable for harsh environments. Contrary to the uses of class M and L, class K is used for underground services pipes.


Copper has been in useĀ  since time memorial because of its various pros, such as:

  • Copper has a very long lifespan of at least 50years.
  • Due to the sturdiness of copper, it is durable and doesn’t leak or corrode.
  • It’s hard for bacteria to grow in copper pipes; hence the water is not prone to pollution, making it safe for supplying drinking water.
  • Copper can be recycled when there is a need for replacement.
  • Copper is resistant to ultimate temperatures, inclusive of cold and hot water.


The above advantages may make you wonder why copper pipes are not used in every plumbing need. Compared to other materials, copper has several disadvantages, such as:

  • The main disadvantage of copper is the cost. Over the years, copper has increased in value globally, and you will buy it for more than $300 for 100 feet of piping.
  • Copper mining and manufacturing negatively affect the environment and takes a very long time to be recycled. Same day trades understand that Homeowners who are conscious of these effects do not consider copper as a green product.

Galvanized Steel Pipes.

Though stronger compared to other pipes, galvanized pipes are not used much nowadays. Here are the reasons why:

  • Galvanized pipes have a shorter life span compared to other tubes. They need replacement after 20 to 50 years.
  • They are prone to rust and especially the ones with a smaller diameter. Eventually, the rust builds up inside the pipe and mixes with water, making it discolored.
  • As the pipes become corroded, the lead contaminates the drinking water making it unsafe for drinking.
  • Though they are sturdy, this makes them heavy and difficult to move around during installation.
  • The galvanization is prone to damage, leaving the pipe exposed to weather elements, leading to corrosion within a short duration.

Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes

The material used to make PVC pipes is a thermoplastic polymer and is a popular plumbing choice. The material used is a combination of plastic and vinyl. They are rigid and available in three colors. Namely: grey, white, and cream. They are suitable for highly pressurized water, such as the main water supply line, drains, and transport of potable water. The thickness you choose depends on the application.


  • PVC is not prone to rust or corrosion. Unless it gets damaged unexpectedly, it is capable of lasting indefinitely. PVC outlasts even the most durable metals.
  • Due to its high capability to handle high pressure, it is suitable for the main supply line into your home.
  • PVC pipes are light compared to metal pipes, a fact that makes them easy to carry and work with. No soldering is done while connecting them, and you use glue only.
  • PVC costs much lower compared to copper and other plumbing options.


  • Prone to warping: PVC is made of plastic which is not suited to carry hot water. Similar to plastics, PVC pipes can warp or melt when exposed to hot water.
  • PVC is limited in size, which can be a challenge. On the other hand, your PVC pipe may be a perfect match, but the fitting used to connect them are bulky and complex in compact spaces.

Whether renovating or building a new home, same-day trades recommend you consider the different pipes, their pros, and cons for an effective plumbing system. Copper is not prone to rust and lasts for up to 50 years, but the cost of mining is detrimental to the environment. PVC is the most preferred option due to its durability but cannot carry hot water. Galvanized steel is prone to rust which can lead to water poisoning.

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