The days of lead pipe are, luckily, a thing of the past. Over the past several years, a number of alternatives, such as copper, bronze, and iron have filled the role that lead once played in home plumbing. However, one option is starting to look like the clear winner over other materials for home use: plastic.
Advantages of Plastic Plumbing Pipe
Plastic pipe has a number of advantages over other materials:
- Versatility: Plastic pipe systems can be made nearly joint-free, and therefore leak-free, saving you headaches down the road. They are easy to install and maintain.
- Cost: Because of its versatility, a plastic pipe system is usually inexpensive to install as compared with other types.
- Durability: Testing has shown that plastic pipe can last more than 25 years, and in some cases 100 or more. It outperforms copper and other materials by years.
- Ecology: Plastic pipe can be recycled, making it an environmentally-conscious choice.
Types of Plastic Pipe
Here are some of the terms you may hear as you shop around for plastic plumbing pipe:
- PVC and CPVC: The most popular choice in plastic plumbing pipe, PVC is a rigid, white plastic. Thread or solvent weld (glue) is used to connect pieces, or it can be fused together with heat. Standard PVC can only be used for cold water uses, such as drain line, while CPVC can be used for hot water.
- PolyEthylene (PE): A flexible plastic, PE can be curved around corners, eliminating the need for fittings. It is joined using barb fittings and clamp rings, or is heat-fused (melted) together. PE is colorless, with a frosted, translucent appearance, and is popular in geothermal heating as a supply line for sprinkler systems. It is also called PEX in water supply.
- ABS is a rigid, black piping material, used only for drainage lines. It is lower in cost than PVC for such uses.
With plastic pipe quickly becoming the most popular option in plumbing, it is likely that your local plumber will recommend it to you. Talk to them about which type of plastic plumbing pipe is the best for your needs.
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