Common Plumbing Materials

Copper pipe for plumbing materials

Curious about the materials that make up your home's plumbing?

Do you know what materials are used to transport your water? Why are these particular plumbing materials used? Is it different in Houston than in other parts of the state or country? To some, piping may feel like an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue. It’s a good idea when buying a house, however, to consider the piping used for your plumbing.

In short, piping these days is made out of copper. Copper is a reliable material, is easily fitted together, and can transport heated water effectively. Many, many years ago, lead piping was the material of choice for plumbing, even giving the term “plumber” its name. “Plumbum” is the term for lead in Latin. The toxicity of lead was unknown at this time. When connections were made between stillbirths and high rates of infant mortality and lead, it got phased out quickly. Iron piping then became the new material of choice, but that also came with rust-problems and limited life.

Copper was a good change of pace as it will not degrade with use over time, it is very resistant to extreme temperatures and rapid temperature changes, and it is very cost-effective. It is a naturally occurring element, so it is environmentally friendly as well. There are new materials being used these days in the form of plastic products, but there is still debate out as to whether this will completely force out copper for plumbing systems.

CPVC, PB, and PEX are all types of plastic pipe that are starting to be used more in newer construction. They don’t soften when used for hot water, it’s less expensive than copper, and it is easy to install. Some experts question using plastics for piping as they have not withstood the test of time… yet. Many people just don’t know how this material will last.