TYPES OF PIPING
There are many different types of piping in the plumbing industry, and it can all get pretty confusing. But this little bit of information can help a lot, regardless if you own a newer home or an older home. There are two different types of piping, drainage, and water service. Drainage piping does what its name suggests, drain wastewater away from the home. Water service piping is what moves the pressurized, clean water from the city to the fixture you need it at.
- Cast Iron – This piping was commonly used before the 1970’s, so if you have an older home, this is likely the type of drainage pipe you have. This material is most noted for its heavy-duty durability, and due to its thick lining, how quiet this pipe is. When a toilet is flushed upstairs, you will likely not hear anything. This type of piping was mainly put together using a technique called “Leading.” This is a form where the plumber packs oakum (A fibrous, rope-like material) between the pipe and the fitting, then pours hot lead into the void. The lead is then tamped, creating a tight, leak-free seal. This technique is rarely used anymore. When connecting to this pipe with newer material, a plumber will likely use a mechanical joint, called a “No Hub Band.” This pipe was great in its day. It was a safer alternative to many of the other options, but now, it is very well out of date. Most Cast Iron now is beginning to heavily rust, and cause issues. If this is the type of piping in your home, consider calling an Expert to come and perform a sewer inspection.
- ABS Piping – Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is very common in homes, and is a newer material. This pipe has a form of flexibility to it, while still remaining rigid. This pipe can be easily joined using mechanical fittings (No Hub Bands) and a glue-like compound that welds the plastics together as one piece. ABS can belly if not properly supported, especially in hot & humid laden environments. It is also the noisiest of drainage pipe, but is extremely cost-effective, and performs its job well.
- PVC – Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Most commonly known to the average home-owner as sprinkler pipe, another primary usage of this type of pipe is actually drainage. It excels at maintaining rigidity, and noise cancellation, although it is prone to being very brittle. Usually, fittings are installed using glue, but can also be installed with the usage of mechanical joints. PVC is not nearly as common as ABS here in Utah, although it is acceptable in most city codes.
- CPVC – Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) Is the exact same thing as regular PVC, except treated with a chlorination process when it is produced. This leaves the pipe to be more flexible, and withstand higher temperatures. This type of piping is common in manufactured homes, or back out east. Recognizable by its slight off-white color and gold band running along its sidem this pipe is typically joined with glue. The downside to this pipe is that it is quite brittle, and repairs cannot be made quickly without the usage of push-fit fittings. The gluing process takes a minimum time of a half-hour to an hour to complete.
- PEX Piping – Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) is most standard in homes now. This flexible, reliable pipe is joined with barbed fittings that go on the inside that are sinched down with a ring. Recognizable by its form of joining, and color-coded look, this pipe is very easy to work with and is extremely cost-effective. Its ease of use is sure to save you money in labor costs, and due to its material, it won’t rust. Minerals also have a harder time gripping to the pipe, creating a longer-lasting alternative to copper.
- Galvanized – Common in older homes, this threaded, hard pipe is what made pipe wrenches famous. Labor intensive, and limited in installation options, this form of pipe is known to last a hundred years. We are nearing that end more and more every day. Pinhole leaks have become commonplace, and what you repair in one area, will disturb the pipe and could cause further issues in the pipe somewhere else. If you have this type of piping, consider an Expert repipe.
- Copper – A very costly type of pipe, but known for its longevity. This hard pipe is usually joined by a process called soldering, which involves heating the pipe with a torch, flux acid, and a fusible metal alloy called solder. It is also now common for pipes to be joined with a new innovation in the plumbing industry – press fittings. Not to be confused with push-fit fittings, these fittings are mechanically pressed onto the pipe. Some plumbers still swear by copper, but once it has had its day, it can become troublesome, and expensive. Leaks typically occur at solder joints, and when one portion fails, another is close behind. A repipe may be needed if issues persist.
If you have any questions, it doesn’t hurt to call an Expert. We would be glad to come out and give you some insight into how your home works.