Plumbing Pipes – What Are Your Choices And Options?
There are many different types of pipes used in plumbing. Whether you’re planning to do that re-piping job yourself or you’re going to engage the services of a licensed plumbing contractor, you need to know about the different options you have when it comes to selection of plumbing pipes. Here is an overview of the options you can choose.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) piping is not expensive and is easy to find. Plumbers and do-it-yourselfers often choose ABS piping for residential drain lines and vent lines. ABS pipes can be used for underground pipes and also work above ground.
They can be used for outdoor or indoor applications. If you install ABS piping outside, you will need to protect the pipes against Ultra Violet (UV) radiation. You should check your local building code for installation guidelines using ABS piping outdoors.
You can cut and glue ABS pipes just like PVC pipes, but be warned – the glue you use must specifically state that it is designed specifically for ABS pipes, because glue used for PVC pipes will not glue ABS pipes.
Black Iron Pipe
For many years, black iron pipe was the most common type of pipe used for gas and fittings. Black iron pipe is commonly used for running a gas line in installations which are above ground. In order to install gas pipe, you will need to cut, ream and thread the pipes.
Black iron pipe usually costs less than most other types of gas pipe, but these savings can be offset by increased costs because of the time necessary to cut the pipes, thread them and install them correctly.
Copper pipe is commonly used to run hot and cold water through the house. It is also commonly used for refrigerant lines in HVAC systems. You can use copper piping for underground and above-ground applications, but if you use copper pipe underground, make sure you sleeve the pipes because some soils can affect copper.
With the recent increase in the price of copper, and the longer labor time it takes to install copper piping, consumers and contractors alike have been moving into PEX piping for water distribution. Copper piping is available in several different thicknesses, labeled M, L, and K, with M being the thinnest grade. You connect copper pipes to the fittings using solder.
Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) pipe can withstand temperatures of about 180 degrees. CPVC pipes are great for distributing hot and cold water inside a house.
CPVC pipes have the same exterior diameter as copper and PEX pipes. This means that push fit fittings such as SharkBite, which fit PEX and copper pipes, can also be used to fit CPVC piping. CPVC and PVC pipes require the use of a primer and glue to make secure joints.
Be sure to check that the glue you are using is appropriate for use with CPVC. Glue that can be used with CPVC is often colored orange to differentiate it from other glues which are not suitable for use with CPVC pipes.
CSST or Stainless Steel
When you need to install rigid gas tubing, corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) is ideal for any location. CSST tubing, being stainless, lasts a long time and is not usually subject to degradation by soils or water.
A steel or iron pipe which is coated with zinc is called galvanized pipe. The zinc coating prevents water from damaging or corroding the pipe. However, a lot of work goes into the process – you have to do extensive threading and cutting to install galvanized pipe, so it is no longer used as extensively in homes these days.
Galvanized pipe is safe for transporting drinking water, and is still often used to distribute water in larger commercial applications. If your house was built before the 1970s and has not been re-piped, your water lines are probably the galvanized type.
PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene (XLPEl) but is more commonly called PEX. This type of pipe is commonly used to transport hot and cold water in homes. It is also used as hydronic heating because of its ability to resist both cold and hot temperatures.
PEX piping is in wide use today because it is inexpensive, easy to use, and comes in long, convenient rolls. You can joint PEX pipes in a number of different ways: to secure the joints, you can use push fit fittings as well as specialty PEX tools and crimp rings.
Polyethylene Gas Pipe
Poly pipe is commonly used for underground gas line installations, mainly because of its resistance to harsh corrosive environments. Polyethylene pipe comes in long rolls and in a wide variety of sizes, meeting almost every need. This type of pipe is usually installed underground and it has metal transition fittings which raise it aboveground.
PolyVinyl Chloride (PVC) pipe is used in a large number of plumbing applications including drainage pipe and water mains. PVC pipe is found in irrigation piping, home plumbing, and is often used in commercial and large residential buildings.
You will also find PVC piping in pools and spa systems. PVC pipe is usually colored white, but it also comes in many other colors, each color being for a different type of use. There are also markings on PVC pipes telling you what type of application that particular pipe is used for.
PVC pipes marked with black lettering is commonly used for reclaimed water. You can also get PVC pipes in a variety of thicknesses called “schedules”, with Schedule 40 most commonly used for water distribution.
If you are intending to use PVC pipes for both potable (drinkable) and non-potable water in the same building, the different pipes must always be clearly labeled.
To join PVC pipes, you must use a primer which softens the plastic and then apply a PVC glue that will melt together the joints and the pipe. PVC pipe can also be used for sewer piping in the same manner as ABS pipe.
To use a PVC pipe for a drain, you must use a PVC pipe that is specifically designed for use as a drain pipe. This means it must have the correct sweeps to allow correct drainage. These angles are very different from the tees and sharp elbows found in PVC water pipe. PVC drain pipe is usually lighter than ABS pipes or PVC pipes used for water.