If you are refurbishing your plumbing system and your plumber suggests plastic pipes, you might be taken aback. Same goes when buying a home and finding that the household plumbing is composed of plastic. You might assume plastic is a cheaper and less reliable material than metal, but that’s not necessarily true. In some circumstances, plastic pipes might actually be the best option for your home – depending on the type of plastic. Read on to learn more.
Durable, Flexible and Affordable Pipes
As it turns out, there are some types of metal pipes that you are better off not having in your household plumbing at all. Lead pipes, which were used widely prior the 1930s, can actually give you lead poisoning, and steel pipes are prone to rust once they become a few decades old. Copper is considered the best metal pipe material, but can be quite expensive and also prone to pinhole leaks.
If you don't have the budget for copper, you're left with plastic. Fortunately, certain kinds of plastic can be durable, flexible and affordable, perfect solutions for your household plumbing. The best plastic currently available is known as PEX, or cross-linked polyethylene tubing. In addition to being up to 30 percent cheaper than copper, PEX has some serious advantages:
- It doesn't corrode when exposed to acidic water.
- PEX is not known to have problems with pinhole leaks.
- The material is flexible, and therefore easier to install.
- PEX reduces, though doesn't eliminate, your risk of frozen pipes bursting in the winter.
Plastics That Are Better to Avoid
Other types of plastic found in many homes are variations of PVC pipes. PVC comes with advantages and disadvantages, depending on what type you have – for example, standard PVC can't carry hot water, so it needs to be supplemented with copper, while the more advanced CVPC can handle hot water but has durability issues. PVC can work fine for many households, but if you are installing a brand new household plumbing system, you're most likely better off with PEX.
There are some kinds of plastic plumbing that you should absolutely avoid. One example is Kitec plumbing, which was used extensively in North America in between 1995 and 2007. The material is no longer used and is facing class-action lawsuits because it tended to corrode quickly and spring leaks during normal usage, potentially flooding homes and causing other water damage. The flexible plastic pipes are usually blue and orange – if you see these in your home, you should have a plumber evaluate your system ASAP to avoid a disaster.
Let the Plumbing Experts Care for Your System
If you need help deciding which pipes to use for your household plumbing, call a qualified plumber today.