Home Plumbing: 5 Types of Pipes

Discover the various types of plumbing pipes used in homes over the years and learn how they are used.

PIPE TYPE: PEX    |   USE: WATER SUPPLY

This is an affordable plastic tubing known as Polyethylene cross-linked pipe (PEX) It is popular for water supply lines, as it does not leach contaminants like rust or corrosion into the water as other types of pipe, such as galvanized piping.  Easy to install due to its flexibility, this piping maneuvers much better than rigid PVC. Several connection methods are available, too, allowing for a variety of tool options.
PEX is also color-coded in order to keep your plumbing organized. Red and Blue to distinguish between hot and cold water, and White, too, as a variant.

PEX  tubes connect individually to a manifold and has its own shut-off valve. This way the water can be turned off to a sink faucet when you need to repair lines or change out fixtures without shutting the water off to other areas of your home.

PIPE TYPE: PVC    |   USE: DRAIN, WASTE, VENT

Polyvinyl chloride piping (PVC) is used in sewage systems for your home. It is intended to be used in low-temperature and low-pressure applications. This means it’s ideal for a shower or toilet drain line, but is not acceptable for high pressure water lines or for transporting hot water.

Three-inch and four-inch PVC pipes and connections are typical in main drains and in your home’s vent stack. Sink drains and plumbing vents are comprised of smaller PVC pipes, usually, and are often used to prevent air locks in your drainage.

PIPE TYPE: ABS    |   USE: DRAIN, WASTE, VENT

The black pipe found in a toilet drain, tub, or sink, is likely made from a material called Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). Commonly found in drain, waste and ventilation systems, these pipes are similar to PVC pipe. ABS pipe comes in the same sizes as PVC pipe, as well. Though it is more durable than PVC in high-impact situations, it cannot be left in direct sunlight.

PIPE TYPE: COPPER    |   USE: WATER SUPPLY

For years, Copper pipe has been used in home plumbing systems. They feed water to your sinks, showers, tubs, and other fixtures in your home. It is a go-to for water supply lines because the Copper doesn’t compromise the water’s quality.

The installation of Copper pipe, however, requires the use of a propane torch.  This means hiring a professional plumber to install or make repairs to the copper piping in your homes plumbing.

PIPE TYPE: GALVANIZED    |   USE: WATER SUPPLY, DRAIN
 

Being lead-free made it a popular alternative to the lead pipes from decades ago, and though it is not used much anymore it can still be found in older homes. The downfall is that, over the years, galvanized pipes can begin to rust and contaminate the water being fed into your home. If you find your home has galvanized pipes, it is suggested that your home be retrofitted with PEX or Copper, so you receive clean, quality drinking water.