Water pipelines can be made out of different materials but there are many factors you have to consider when selecting one. Some materials will have a bigger environmental impact than others. Some materials can also affect water quality. You have to consider the cost of the pipes and their durability as well.
In older homes built at the beginning of the 20th century, you may find lead pipes. You will need to replace these as there is a risk of lead contaminating the water supply and affecting your health. There are also different metal options for pipes. Generally, metal is replaced by plastic alternatives. The reason that some people choose metal over plastic is due to their greater strength and durability. They will last a lot longer. But they can be more expensive. Copper pipes are expensive but you can use them for both hot and cold water. And the benefit of copper pipes is that they have natural anti-microbial properties. Cast iron pipes were used a long time ago but they can rust over time. If your plumbing system still has a cast iron piping system, you can replace the rusted sections with a plastic option and still keep the parts that are in good condition.
Steel water pipelines come with a high level of durability and strength. They can withstand a wider range of conditions such as high pressure and vibration. If the pipe is exposed to extreme conditions, it will bend instead of breaking which makes it a good material for plumbing. It will also not rust easily so you don’t need to worry about maintenance. Steel pipes can be easily installed and as they can be recycled, it is a great environmentally friendly option. PVC is widely used for piping and you can find them in different thicknesses as well depending on the requirement. Thicker pipes will be able to bear higher pressures. Generally, PVC pipes are used for moving cold water. The plastic can degrade when hot water is used and they can also be affected by UV radiation. This is an affordable piping option and can be used for the main supply line and drain lines for the bathroom.
PEX can be used for hot and cold water supply lines. The benefit of this material is its higher range of flexibility that allows it to traverse corners without any difficulty. It is also very durable and the risks of corrosion are very low. It can be used in areas with cold temperatures as the material is freeze resistant. You can also reduce the number of pipe connections when using PEX which contributes to minimise pressure loss. If you need to redo your piping, you can have PEX sent through the existing pipes so it is a popular option for renovations. ABS is less flexible than PVC and has a higher risk of degradation. The joints can come loose over time with prolonged sun exposure. This is an easy to install piping material and it generally tends to do well when used for underground pipes. You will always need to check with your local building authority regarding the materials they recommend for pipes.