Red vs Blue

With literally no other commercials on except political ads for the past few months we wondered, which candidate is more pro-plumbing? Turns out they are both big fans of indoor plumbing…just kidding. While comparing presidential candidates is certainly a hot topic, so is comparing pipe materials. There are a lot of choices when it comes to the water lines in your home, and many homeowners have no idea which one is the best choice for them. As pipes age people wonder if they should replace certain types sooner than others, should they stick with the same material or switch it up? Let’s see if we can address some of these critically important questions.

When selecting the appropriate material for your pipes there are several factors to consider: cost, durability, water quality, and environmental impact just to name a few. First it’s important to know what the lines will be used for. If you need waste drain lines ABS, PVC and cast iron are the materials of choice. On the other hand, if the water lines are for incoming water than copper, CPVC, PEX, brass or galvanized iron are the best choices.

While replacing plumbing is typically done on an as needed basis there are some exceptions. If your home is old enough to have lead pipes, those should be replaced regardless of their functionality in order to protect your family from the health hazards of lead. If your home was built between 1970-2000 and has PB pipes those should also be replaced. PB pipes have been found to have a substantially higher risk of leaking or bursting and causing serious, and costly, damage to your property.

PVC is becoming the material of choice for a variety of applications. Everything from bathtub, sink and toilet drains to main water supply lines and vent stacks. The one area that PVC is not recommended is for hot water lines. Over time the higher temperatures of the water can cause the PVC material to break down. PVC has grown in popularity because of its durability, think 100 years before replacing, and its low price point. Most homeowners select PVC for their average home plumbing project. ABS is a very similar product, a black plastic pipe, but it’s less flexible and degrades more easily. It can still be the best material though for underground pipes.

Copper is often the material of choice for incoming water lines both hot and cold. It’s incredibly heat resistant and has the added bonus of having natural anti-microbial properties. It’s more expensive than plastic and doesn’t last as long, but is a far better choice for hot water lines. Cast iron had its day but has fallen by the wayside over the years. While they are high on durability and heat resistance, they tend to rust over time. Galvanized steel are pipes that have been coated with a protective layer of zinc. These pipes will eventually corrode and begin to leak, given that they are more expensive than plastic and don’t last as long, they have fewer applications.

If you’re unsure which type of pipe to select for your next plumbing project, contact All Star Plumbing and Restoration. A professional plumber has seen it all and can tell you from experience which pipes will last the longest, keep your family safe, and not cost you a fortune.


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