Types of Plumbing Pipes
How all the pipes fit together in a residential plumbing system is mystifying to many homeowners. When a blockage or leak occurs, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the two main types of plumbing pipes in your home and how they’re used.
Drain-Waste Vent Pipes
These are the drain pipes that carry waste water from your appliances and plumbing fixtures, the branch and main sewer lines, and the vertical vent stacks that stick up through the roof. Depending on the age of your home, you may have DWV pipes made of:
- Cast iron — This was the material of choice prior to 1960. Although it’s incredibly durable, cast iron will rust out over time. Oftentimes, a skilled plumber can replace a rusted-out section with a modern material.
- Plastic — ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) or PVC (polyvinyl-chloride) plastic plumbing pipes and fittings have been the standard since the 1970s. They’re easy to cut, and sections are easily glued together with liquid cement.
Water Supply Pipes
The smaller-diameter pipes that deliver water to your plumbing fixtures and appliances have thicker walls than DWV pipes to withstand higher pressure. Depending on its age, your home may have one or more of these piping materials:
- Galvanized steel — Often seen in older homes, galvanized steel isn’t used in new construction because it corrodes from the inside out as it ages.
- Copper — These pipes don’t corrode, so they became a popular alternative to steel. With the high price of copper, the use of rigid and flexible copper water lines are starting to decline, but they’re still being installed in many homes.
- PEX — Cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX, is the latest development in residential water supply piping and it’s less costly than copper. PEX comes in color-coded versions for hot and cold supplies, it’s flexible, easy to cut to length and install using a special crimping tool.
At Sobieski Services, Inc., our goal is to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey learn more about energy and home comfort issues — especially HVAC and plumbing issues — so that they can save money and live in healthier, more comfortable homes.