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Plumbing Material: 7 Factors To Consider

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There was a time when plumbing systems were put together with pipes metal pipes.  While Galvanized Iron (GI Pipes) and copper tubing are still used, plastics are the predominant material used nowadays.  


  1. PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride. Cheap, durable and good for most plumbing applications.  Do remember not to use this material to deliver hot water.  Generally, plumbers join PVC pipes and fixtures using solvent cements providing a good leak resistant joint.  Be careful though when using these solvent cements.  They are not good for your lungs so make sure there is ample ventilation during installation.
  2. cPVC: Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride.  Its PVC plumbing that can handle higher pressure and hot water.  
  3. HDPE: High Density Polyethylene. HDPE is even stronger than PVC and are produced in greater lengths and diameters. The pipe is ideal for long installations with minimal joints. This material lends itself to heat fusion (melt, press together, wait for it, voila), resulting in stronger leak proof joints.  All these pluses do come at an additional price.

In choosing the right pipe, there are a number of things to consider when choosing plumbing material

Corrosion – Water by itself can corrode most metals.  Moreover chemical composition of water can further interact with plumbing materials and cause concerns with your system.

Flow – Smoother pipe surfaces, lets water flow easier, better and lowers operating costs.

Water Pressure – depending on where you live or if you have a water pump installed, materials have to perform under pressure.

Soil Characteristics – If water affects the durability of a pipe on the inside, soil will affect it on the outside.  Rocks, excess moisture, water drainage and contaminants in the soil can all cause damage.

Pipe Characteristics – The ability of a pipe to take a little physical stress should be considered based on your application

Heat – temperature is a definite factor considering that some materials are simply cannot handle higher tempareatures

Sunlight – UV rays can deteriorate some forms of plastic piping depending on how deep it is and where it is installed on the property.   Needless to say exposed pipes are in for a lot of maintenance attention