You hardly ever see them, but the pipes in our homes are one of the biggest reasons we’ve achieved such a high standard of health and living in the developed world. Plumbing systems are the reason we can have water for hot showers and dishwashing, as well as fresh, clean drinking water at the turn of a faucet. Your plumbing helps you complete your chores, maintain your appearance, and stay healthy. That’s why when it comes to selecting pipe for new construction, a re-piping project, or even a simple repair, selecting durable, quality materials is extremely important. In this article we’ll discuss the pros and cons of three common pipe materials to help you make your selection for your next plumbing project.
Copper: When it comes to home plumbing, copper is by far the most common piping material that comes to mind. That’s for good reason, too – copper has a stellar reputation as a reliable and durable product. Copper can be used to supply both hot and cold water, and is corrosion resistant. Its main drawback is that is an expensive material when compared to the plastic-derived alternatives on the market. It’s also not recommended for do-it-yourself projects; it requires a fair bit of skill and patience to properly install and solder copper piping, so installing and replacing this type of pipe is best left to a licensed professional plumber. However, if you’re willing to invest the extra money, this material can last an exceedingly long time in home plumbing applications when it is properly installed and maintained.
PEX: Over the past decade, PEX has been gaining in popularity for residential plumbing projects. “PEX” is shorthand for “cross-linked polyethylene,” a durable plastic material that can be molded into pipes and tubing. PEX costs significantly less than copper pipe per foot, and can be installed much more quickly. While PEX is corrosion-resistant and has been tested to withstand quick pressure and temperature changes, keep in mind that the use of PEX pipe in plumbing projects is still a fairly new concept in comparison to other materials.
CPVC: Like PEX, CPVC pipe is derived from plastics and is a cheaper alternative to copper, but it has been around on the plumbing scene for a longer period of time. CPVC pipe is versatile, with different types and thicknesses available depending on how you want to use it; hot and cold potable (drinkable) water and sewage piping are among the most common applications. Many plumbers and contractors debate the lifespan of CPVC, but CPVC is immune to galvanic corrosion and electrolysis, processes which can affect your water taste and quality in houses with metal pipes. Some people have complained of a “plasticky” taste in their water after installing CPVC pipes, but for those who are interested in do-it-yourself projects, CPVC is valued due to its affordability and the ease with which it can be cut into a variety of sizes for different projects.
Each type of pipe on the market has its drawbacks and advantages; it all depends on a number of details, from the type of piping you need to do down to the acid content in your area’s drinking water. If you’re building a home or decide that its time for a re-pipe, the best thing you can do is contact your local licensed and trusted plumber. Plumbers have the training and expertise needed to install your plumbing properly, which can lengthen any piping material’s overall lifespan. They can also answer more detailed questions about a variety of piping materials, and provide their professional opinion on which types of material are common and trusted for homes in your area. When in doubt, calling a trusted plumber like Home Comfort can bring you peace of mind on your next plumbing project