You may not see them a lot, but pipes are some of the most important pieces of your home’s infrastructure. There are many different choices in plumbing pipes in 2023, so how do you know which pipes are best for your home? Along with drinking water safety and longevity, there are things you’ll want to consider when looking to replace your home’s plumbing pipes.
At Home Pros can put you in touch with the most reliable plumbing experts in your area. It’s also a good idea to learn about each kind of pipe, so that you can make informed decisions when getting a quote or speaking with your plumbing professional.
A common piping choice these days is PEX, which is shorthand for crosslinked polyethylene. This material is often used for pipes, as it has a 25-year warranty, is accepted under most building codes, and is a cheaper choice than copper. However, when you look into the conversation surrounding PEX pipes online, you’ll note that many homeowners wonder about PEX’s tendency to leach toxic chemicals into drinking water.
That’s one of many reasons it’s wise to have a good understanding about the material of your plumbing pipes. Here are some simple facts about the best pipes for your home, organized into categories that are the most useful for homeowners like you.
Best choice for DIYers
A close cousin of the white, rigid PVC pipe, CPVC stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. These pipes are created with chlorine in their makeup so they’re safe for pipes that transport drinking water.
If you’re someone who likes the challenge of weekend projects, CPVC is an excellent choice. The DIYer simply cuts the CPVC with a handsaw and uses the adhesives and fittings that the material comes with to make the pipes fit the house’s layout.
CPVC is not the greenest choice for pipes, as the process of manufacturing it creates a lot of pollution. In addition, it isn’t recyclable, and fitting pipe requires caustic chemicals. But once your CPVC pipe is installed, it is a healthy and economical operating system for your plumbing pipes. This option costs about $50 to $100 per foot.
Best choice for longevity
Classic copper lasts the longest, resisting the elements and basic wear-and-tear for eight decades or more. Historically, copper has always been a solid choice, albeit an expensive one.
If you decide on copper pipes for your construction project, you should know that you’ll be adding many hundreds of dollars onto your budget. Since copper is a globally traded commodity, prices can change — and the past few years have seen prices climb dramatically.
To buy a foot of copper piping, you will pay around $20 to $30 in 2023. Copper isn’t the most environmentally safe choice, but copper pipes can be reused and recycled, and once they’re installed, they will last for a long, long time.
Best for water safety
If you’re concerned for the safety of your water supply, you should look into PP, or polypropylene pipe. Not as well-known on this side of the Atlantic, PP has been used as piping in Europe with an unblemished track record of public health and safety for more than 30 years.
A white rigid pipe like CPVC, PP doesn’t use chemicals to fuse its ends together. Instead, it melts the joining ends together with heat. Many researchers and environmentalists claim that PP is the plumbing pipe of the future, as it lasts for a very long time, is the greenest option on the market and doesn’t leach anything at all into the water it’s carrying.
This isn’t the best option for a homeowner who is going it alone. Some of the tools used to install PP pipes are specialized and possibly cost-prohibitive. If you’re having a plumber come in, however, PP is a great option as your plumber may have these tools on-hand. For 100 feet of PP pipes, you can expect to pay about $110.
Best for complicated retrofits
One of the strongest benefits of PEX pipes is their ability to snake easily into walls. You can even use one piece of PEX pipe for the whole house, as its flexible make-up lets it bend and curve without you having to cut and rejoin ends.
There was some concern about the first generation of PEX pipes, which used methyl tertiary butyl ether —a toxin in gas —in its creation processes. However, California just approved the newest generations of PEX, and this state is known to have the strictest environmental policies in the country.
PEX has only been used in the U.S. for about a decade, but the reputation of this sturdy yet flexible piping option has grown. If you need an affordable, green, pliable option that doesn’t take a lot of effort to install, PEX is a superb choice. The price of PEX piping, including labor, is $1.50 to $4 per linear foot.
If you’ve looked into copper piping, PEX, PP, and CPVC pipes, but none have fit your budget or needs, you may want to look at flexi-pipes, ABS piping, galvanized steel or cast iron.
Best for appliance connections
Flexible pipe is made of stainless steel and is used most commonly as final piping connections linking appliances like water heaters, sinks or toilets. As their name implies, flexible pipes (or flexi-pipes for short) can bend as necessary and are fairly durable.
Although flexi-pipes are expensive, you usually don’t need a lot of them and they come in many lengths and sizes. It’s not uncommon for flexi-pipes to fail after regular wear-and-tear.
Best for vent lines or drains
ABS pipes are made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a thermoplastic resin. ABS pipes resemble PVC pipes, except that they black and more flexible. Plumbers often use ABS pipes for drain lines and vents.
The sun can warp and weaken ABS pipes, which is why they should be kept away from UV rays. ABS pipes are very cost-effective, however, just like PVC, ABS pipes aren’t up to code everywhere, so it pays to check if they are approved in your area.
Best choice for water supply, drain and vent lines
Galvanized steel and cast iron have been used by plumbers for decades to drain and vent water systems, and to carry water from one place to another. These pipes are often found in older homes and aren’t usually installed in 2023.
Galvanized steel was used for water supply and drainage lines for many years, but are only used for gas supply lines in modern times. These pipes are made of rigid, corrosion-resistant steel, and can be both tricky and expensive to install.
Cast iron is dark gray and also rigid, and is mainly used for sewer and other drainage purposes. You can still find cast iron pipes in commercial and high-rise construction projects. In addition to being extremely durable and slightly expensive, it’s also heavy and difficult to work with.
The two most important factors to consider when choosing pipe material are the function the pipe will be expected to perform and the layout of the walls in which the pipe will be laid. For example, flexi-pipes or CPVC might be better choices for tight spaces and corners. Cost also becomes an issue as some pipes, like copper, are much more expensive than others.
If you’re considering a change in pipes, have bought a new home or are looking into building a new construction, you may need the help of a professional plumber or plumbing contractor. At Home Pros is your first step to new pipes. Our experts can put you in touch with prescreened, reputable home service professionals in your area. Call us today to get started on your newest home improvement project.