Have you ever looked around your home and wondered about the quality of your plumbing? Plumbing is an important and intricate part of any building design, and can be incredibly frustrating when problems arise. The various types of pipes all exist for different reasons, and come with their own list of pros and cons. There are loads of rules and regulations that stand in the way of shabby jobs and can prevent costly mistakes, but old homes often come with old plumbing. So, how does one know what kind of pipe is the best for plumbing?
For more than a century, copper pipes were used for indoor plumbing, and were the best option available. These natural pipes create a biostatic atmosphere which limits the growth of bacteria, but they are expensive and require extensive labor to install. In cold weather climates, these pipes freeze and in worse cases burst. The durable quality is a benefit but these pipes do still corrode with certain pH levels, making them unappealing in our Minnesota weather.
ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, pipe was developed in the 1950’s in Arizona. These pipes were created for use in the chemical industry, and oil fields. ABS pipes were discovered to be easier to work with and cheaper than their metal alternatives such as copper, cast iron and galvanized steel. There is one crucial difference between ABS and PVC pipes, though, and that is how they are formulated. ABS pipes contain BPA to harden them, making these pipes poor candidates for most plumbing projects.
Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC pipes were generated using copolymer clay and date back to 1912 Germany, though due to poor quality and lack of success with production, they were not used as plumbing until 1936. In the years following, there was a gradual uptick in the properties built and plumbing replaced using the PVC pipes, as they were found to be more durable and suitable for waste relocation. PVC pipes were used in much of Germany and Japan’s rebuilds after WWII, where they became a building standard and are still used today.
PVC was the standard for a long time, but was shown up by PEX pipes in the 1980’s. PEX is a polyurethane pipe with cross-links. It is cost effective, flexible and doesn’t require the use of joints which can promote weak spots in the plumbing. PEX pipes are seen in most new homes being built today, and are an easy industry standard.
It’s important to do your research before starting any big project, and to always check the local building codes. These regulate the types of piping you can use in your home projects so your decision may have been made for you. If you’re looking around considering if your plumbing is the next big upgrade at home, you could be right! That being said, we don’t recommend you taking on that project, or even that consideration, alone. If you’ve had a long and tiresome history with your pipes, either freezing, creaking or leaking, we are here for all your plumbing questions.
At Tony's Plumbing & Heating, we offer outstanding residential and commercial plumbing and heating services in the East Twin Cities metro. With our blog, we hope to bring you useful tips and tricks for ever day life!