There have been a lot of changes to plumbing over the years. If you have an older house, you can probably see evidence of the changes in the wide variety of different pipes that have been put in place over the decades.
Knowing how to identify your pipes and what to expect of them can be helpful regardless of whether you’re a DIY-er or just want to understand what your plumber is telling you. Here’s a quick guide to the types of pipes you’re likely to find in your house.
Most of the pipes in your house are designed to remove water, waste, or steam and hot air. These pipes have to be durable, as the various materials used over the years indicate.
In older homes, you may still see cast iron or galvanized steel pipes. Cast iron pipes often look rusty. In many cases, this is just a surface rust and the pipes may be good for years to come. However, once the rust works it’s way through the pipe, you’ll want to replace it with a more current material. Galvanized steel has a relatively shorter life than cast iron, typically lasting 50 years or less.
More modern plumbing uses plastic pipes. The first type of plastic pipe, ABS, was a black plastic that tended to disconnect at joints, so it is no longer being used but may still be seen in some homes.
The current standard is PVC. It’s a white plastic that is usually labeled with the pipe’s diameter. It’s easier to work with than many of the older types of pipes and incredibly durable.
PVC is so versatile that it can be included in the next category, as well. In addition to being used as removal pipes, some types of PVC can handle the temperatures of hot water supply lines.
Pipes that bring water into your house typically come in two types: copper or PEX. Copper can be rigid or flexible, while PEX is a flexible plastic.
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