Types Of Plumbing Pipes You Will Find In Homes

Types Of Plumbing Pipes You Will Find In Homes

Plumbing pipes have evolved a lot over the years. Galvanized steel and cast iron pipes that were a staple in homes in the 1900s are now only found in a few old houses. Most commercial and residential structures today are equipped with PVC or PEX plumbing.

Bill’s Plumbing & Sewer Inc. offers premium and cost-effective plumbing solutions in Glenview and other Illinois cities. Click here to get a free estimate.

Are you looking into properties to buy and want to know what kind of water and drainage system is currently installed in it? Do you want to get your home’s existing sewage system replaced? Are you simply curious about plumbing? Whatever your interest may be, we can accommodate you. Below are the five main types of plumbing pipe that are installed in homes across the country.


PEX or cross-linked polyethylene pipes are a popular and contemporary choice that is used solely to supply water. They are rigid enough to withstand water pressure and flexible enough to weave through ceilings, walls, ceilings, crawlspaces, and basements.

  • Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to cut
  • Highly flexible (can even be curved at a 90-degree angle)
  • Color-coded – blue for cold water and red for hot water
  • Attachable to push-fit fittings and other types of plumbing
  • Can be joined with copper pipes
  • Cons
  • Long-term capabilities unknown
  • Unrecyclable
  • May leak when attached to push-fit plumbing fittings


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes are used for drain or vent lines. They initially became popular as they are light and easy to work with as compared to galvanized pipes. Installing PVC pipes is moderately easy and requires few tools other than a miter box and handsaw for cutting. They can be glued together using solvents.

  • Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Easier to work with than traditional plumbing pipes
  • Diameters are clearly marked on the pipe
  • Can be used for long runs like in irrigation
  • Cons
  • Glued pipes can leak
  • Degrade in sunlight
  • Pipes cannot be disjoined or disintegrated, so they need to be cut


Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) pipes are mainly used as drain and vent lines. They resemble PVC pipes, but are black instead of white, and are slightly softer.

  • Pros
  • Stronger than PVC pipes
  • Work well in cold temperatures
  • Suitable for exterior or underground plumbing
  • Cons
  • Deform and warp at certain temperatures
  • Mostly not permitted by building code


There are two types of copper pipes – rigid copper pipes and flexible copper pipes. Let’s have a look at both.

Rigid Copper

Rigid copper pipes are often used as water lines within the home as they do not pose any health risks. They can easily be cut with a special copper tube cutter or a hacksaw. However, connecting them is more challenging as they need to be soldered together.

  • Pros
  • Handle heat well
  • Withstand intense pressure
  • Can be bent slightly
  • Easy to recycle and waste copper pipes hold monetary value
  • Cons
  • Expensive
  • Develop pinhole leaks
  • Inside of the pipes may corrode over time and impede water flow
  • Can only be installed by professionals (soldering copper pipes)

Flexible Copper

Flexible copper tubing or pipes are only used for final runs to refrigerators, water heaters, and some sinks. They are mostly used for short runs. Flexible copper pipes can be easily cut using a hacksaw and bent to fit around corners.

  • Pros
  • High heat tolerance
  • Fit in tight, unusually shaped areas
  • Cons
  • Expensive
  • Thin
  • Prone to breaking

Galvanized Steel and Cast Iron

Steel and cast iron pipes are only found in older homes and are rarely installed nowadays.

For decades, galvanized steel pipes have been used for water supply, drainage, gas supply, and other purposes. They are still being used, though much less now, for gas supply and are not being used at all for water supply in new construction or remodeling projects. Both ends of the pipes are threaded, and individual pipes are screwed together using connecting joints.

Cast iron pipes were mostly used for sewers and other drainage purposes. They are still found in many homes as they are viable until they completely rust. Cast iron pipes are difficult to cut and extremely heavy. Nowadays, cast iron pipes are being replaced with rigid plastic pipe like ABS.

  • Pros
  • Galvanized steel pipes are very strong
  • Cast iron pipes can last decades
  • Cons
  • Galvanized steel pipes can pass lead into the water supply
  • Galvanized steel pipes eventually corrode and block water flow
  • Cast iron pipes are difficult to cut

Bill’s Plumbing & Sewer Inc. is a licensed, bonded, and insured plumbing company that offers a range of services for residential and commercial projects in Glenview and otherplaces in Illinois. Click here to get your free estimate.


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