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What’s the Best Type of Plumbing Pipe for My Home?

Pipe wrenches on a pipe

If you live in an older home, you likely have encountered some plumbing issues at some point. While no material will last forever, there are some really durable options on the market. Many old homes were originally outfitted with copper water pipes. The average life expectancy of copper plumbing is between 50-70 years—after which, the metal begins to corrode and develop small holes where water will leak out. Additionally, the acidity and mineral content of your tap water can speed up the corrosion process.

While there are many advantages to using copper pipes (such as heat tolerance and safety for drinking water), the material itself is very expensive to replace. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative options. Let’s examine all the different plumbing material options—and the pros and cons of each.


One of the most popular and time-honored plumbing materials.


  • Heat tolerant
  • Won’t pollute water
  • Lasts 50-70 years


  • Expensive to replace
  • Impurities in the water can speed up corrosion

Galvanized Steel

A popular choice for use as outdoor plumbing, but poses some concerns.


  • Zinc coating prevents rust
  • Less expensive than copper
  • Lasts about 40 years


  • Zinc coating can deteriorate and rust will develop
  • Difficult to repair because of the zinc coating
  • Heavy material that’s difficult to work with
  • Risk of lead in tap water

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Easy to install, but not suitable for high temperatures.


  • PVC is lightweight, which makes it easy to install
  • Won’t corrode with acidic water


  • Should not carry water hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit

PEX Pipes (Cross-Linked Polyethylene)

Durable, inexpensive, and easy to install.


  • Inexpensive
  • Flexible material makes it easy to fit in tight corners
  • No soldering needed, which cuts down on labor costs
  • Won’t corrode with acidic water
  • Lasts about 50 years


  • Prone to damage from insects and sunlight
  • Some odor or chemical taste in tap water has been reported

Now that you have the facts about each type of plumbing material, you can make an informed decision when it comes time to replace water pipes in your home. And, of course, if you ever have any questions about plumbing materials, the experts at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing are more than happy to help. We are also always here for when you’re ready to make upgrades to your home’s pipes. Call to schedule your estimate today!