Even the most handy homeowners can find themselves frustrated by plumbing. Not only is there a lot to know, but there are a wide variety of materials to choose from when making repairs. To help you out, we’ve made this useful guide to the types of pipes you’re likely to find in your home.
Common Types of Plumbing Pipes
If you have a newer home, the most common types of pipes you’ll see are:
- PVC for drain and waste removal
- copper for water supply, and/or
- PEX, a flexible plastic, also used for water supply
PVC is easy to recognize. It’s a hard, white or off-white plastic with a diameter measurement stamped on the side. PVC stands up to almost anything, is inexpensive, and is easy to work with. It can be joined to other PVC pipes with a solvent that basically glues the two ends together.
Copper piping comes in a flexible variety and a rigid variety. The flexible one is used for awkward angles and for spanning the gap between the main water supply line and the faucet. Rigid copper is used for bridging longer distances where flexibility isn’t an issue.
PEX, as mentioned above, is a flexible plastic that comes in different colors – usually white, red, or blue. The color choices let you assign a different colored pipe to your hot and cold lines.
In older homes, you’re also likely to see one or more of these types of pipes used for drains and vents:
- ABS. This is an older type of plastic. You can tell it apart from PVC because it’s black rather than white.
- Galvanized steel. This was the go-to material for a long time, but it has a shorter life than most other options available.
- Cast iron. Many older homes still have cast iron pipes working as well as when they were installed. These pipes are incredibly durable, but they will eventually rust out.
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