Choosing What Pipe to Use For Water

Plumbing pipes come in a range of materials, each ideal for one purpose or another. This can make it difficult to decide which pipes should be used at home; luckily, we’ve put together this guide to help you decide.

For instance, the lines that bring drinking water into your faucets use different materials than those used for draining water. Knowing which pipes your house has can help you identify issues more quickly and maintain your system more efficiently.


Copper has long been the go-to material for water service lines in the United States, though plastics briefly captured 50% of the market in 2000. Over time, however, copper has steadily and consistently reclaimed this share as more cities and water systems consider both technical and cost advantages of using copper.

Copper piping is considered to be the ideal material due to its long-term reliability, resistance to external contaminants, and long-term durability. No other material offers such advantages and is thus the top choice among many water utilities and municipalities.

Copper’s strength and resistance to stress and bending make it ideal for use underground where other materials may crack or rupture. Furthermore, copper has the unique ability to withstand UV rays (sunlight) and oxidizing disinfectants without risk of leakage or deterioration.

Another advantage of copper is its ductility. This means it can be bent or deformed without fracture, though more force will be needed to break the pipe. As such, copper makes for a better choice for older and smaller water lines where other metals might struggle under the weight of a break.

Copper has many benefits, but its resistance to water corrosives is particularly noteworthy. This property makes copper ideal for areas where natural phenomena like freezing and thawing can damage pipes.

When installing new copper water lines, it is essential to use the right size pipe for your application. Doing so will maximize your water flow efficiency.

Rigid pipes can be divided into three primary categories by thickness: Type M, Type L and Type K. Each category has distinct characteristics that determine its suitability for specific uses.

Type M – Thinner than type L copper, this grade of copper is often used in residential plumbing applications. As it’s more cost-effective than thicker grades of copper, DIYers and professional plumbers alike often turn to it when repairing or replacing existing copper water supply lines in homes.


PVC is the most commonly used pipe material for water distribution in homes and commercial buildings due to its superior resistance to corrosives gases and chemicals, making it an ideal choice for transporting potable water.

Insulation helps prevent condensation and regulates water temperatures for cold or hot drinks. Plus, this inexpensive system is easy to set up and maintain.

CPVC is the preferred pipe material for hot-water lines due to its ability to withstand temperatures of up to 200degF without degrading due to a special chlorination process.

This makes CPVC more stable than other pipe materials, preventing it from oxidizing. Furthermore, CPVC is fire retardant – meaning it won’t ignite or smolder as rapidly as copper does.

Another advantage of CPVC is its high temperature resistance. This property makes it ideal for heat exchange and cooling applications, as exposed pipes may break down under extreme heat conditions.

To avoid this issue, CPVC is available in various sizes and shapes to suit specific applications. It can be employed for cold-water plumbing and irrigation as well as hot-water piping.

To ensure your pipes are the correct size, measure your existing plumbing system and take note of any connections that need to be made when shopping for CPVC tubing. Doing this saves time in the long run since you won’t have to make multiple trips to a plumbing supply store as part of your project.

Once you know the size of CPVC tubing you need, head to your local home center or hardware store and get all the supplies necessary for installation. This includes CPVC pipe as well as grip-style mechanical fittings (Photos 3 and 4), cement-on tees, elbows and couplings.

Before you begin cutting, use a sharp CPVC or PVC tubing cutter to guarantee straight cuts. A pipe that has been cut crooked may not be strong enough to withstand the strains involved with joining it with mechanical or glue connections.


When building or remodeling your own home, or fixing a malfunctioning plumbing system, it’s essential to make the correct decision about which pipe type for water delivery. Your needs vary based on local building codes, climate conditions and other variables; making the correct choice will determine your success.

Most people are familiar with the two most popular piping materials – PVC and ABS. But there are other plastic pipe options that exist, each having their own advantages and drawbacks. It’s essential to determine which option is best suited for your project so you can maximize both money and effort spent.

When installing an underground sewer or fixture drain, ABS pipe is the ideal option. Not only is this type of pipe durable and corrosion-resistant, it’s suitable for areas prone to high shock or extreme cold; however, installation in direct sunlight should be avoided as this could cause degradation over time.

When it comes to indoor drain, waste, and vent piping, both ABS and PVC piping work well. The primary distinction between them is flexibility – PVC offers bendability while ABS offers greater rigidity.

Connecting ABS pipe to PVC pipe requires special cement that has been designed for this purpose. Usually, you’ll use a rubber sleeve and metal jacket combination to clamp the connection securely in place.

PVC pipe requires two steps for connecting, while ABS only needs one. This is because PVC ends must be treated with purple primer before special cement can be applied at the ends. Unfortunately, this primer can be messy and needs time to dry before application of cement – adding extra work onto your project!

Another key distinction is the speedy connection of ABS pipe to PVC; joining them requires several steps and requires special cement for both materials to adhere together. With ABS, a block of special cement must be applied to the ends of both pipes before they’re permanently joined – an easier and quicker job than multiple-step processes with PVC which may involve more labor-intensive steps and costlier materials.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized steel piping is a widely-used type of pipe found in plumbing systems. This material is created by coating steel tubes with zinc to protect them against corrosion. Usually, this process involves dipping the pipes in a molten zinc bath; however, other galvanizing options exist as well.

Galvanized steel was once widely used for water lines in homes and commercial buildings due to its affordability, ease of workability and durability. But with increasing awareness about lead hazards in water systems, new alternatives must now be developed for plumbing applications.

Galvanized pipes are commonly still used in older homes for drinking water, but this is not recommended and could pose health risks.

The issue with galvanized steel is that it corrodes from the inside out over time, leading to rust and calcium deposits on its walls. This can cause low pressure or unevenly flowing water as a result.

Therefore, if you’re using galvanized pipes for drinking water, installing a filter is recommended to help block contaminants. Not only does this save money by eliminating the need to purchase bottled water, but it can also help conserve resources.

Plumbers can install a water filtration system that will shield your home’s plumbing against rust and other contaminants. Although it may cost more than purchasing bottled water, investing in this type of system is worth the cost if you’re concerned about the potential health hazards caused by old galvanized pipes.

It’s essential to be aware that hot-dip galvanized steel piping should not be used for drinking water due to the potential leaching of heavy metals into it, including cadmium and lead – both highly toxic chemicals which may pose risks to human health.

If your hot-dip galvanized steel water line has been exposed to the elements, it’s wise to contact a plumber for an inspection. They can determine whether it’s safe to drink from and if replacing with a new tube is recommended.

If your house was built with galvanized steel piping, copper or plastic can be installed to upgrade the system. Galvanized steel pipes typically last around 40 years, so it’s not too late to have it replaced.

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