The Best Pipe For The Job

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Different applications call for different types of pipe.  Expense can be a big factor when building a new home and plumbing can change the price of the build, depending on the type of pipe used.  Pipe is versatile — it can be used for any application from refrigerant lines to waste removal.  Knowing the best pipe for the job is essential for any plumber or do-it-yourself-er.  This post will focus on the different types of pipe and their applications.

  • Copper pipe, both rigid and flexible.
  • PVC pipe
  • PEX
  • Kitec

Each of these pipes has its own application, and in some cases one can be substituted for others.  Some, like polybutylene, have been discontinued. Other pipes, even though interchangeable, have different reactions to the fluid transmitted through them.  In this post we we look at the 4 most commonly used pipe types  in detail.

Copper pipe is undoubtedly the choice of plumbers for main water supply lines, high pressure gas installations, and running water supply lines under sinks in bathroom and kitchen.  Coming in two types, rigid and flexible, it is a versatile material.  In some cases, water with a PH value of 6.5 or below can have an adverse effect on copper.  The instances of this happening are few and far between.

PVC pipe is another very versatile pipe.  It is preferred by many plumbers for applications such as drains, vents and waste removal.  It is lightweight and easy to install.  The price of PVC pipe compared to others is lower.  PVC is recyclable, and will last longer than the design life of a home. It is virtually indestructible under many conditions, including heavy loads placed on it when installed under ground.

PEX is relatively new to the building industry.  Used extensively in Europe for the past 35 years, it became popular in the United States in the 1980s.  It is versatile tubing, with the ability to withstand high and low water temperatures.

Kitec is a relatively new pipe system that is a multipurpose pressure pipe.  Made from aluminum and laminated to interior and exterior layers of plastic, it is useful in applications beyond the scope of metal or PVC pipe alone.  It is non-corroding and resists most acids, salt solutions, alkalis, fats and oils.  It is often used in air conditioning systems because it can resist condensation.  Because of its flexibility, it works well in confined spaces.

For every plumbing job there are many alternatives of pipe and tubing available.  The design process should take into account the cost of specific tubing or pipe when the home is designed.  With the newer products today, plumbing has become an easy task that even the average do-it-yourself-er can handle.  In the next post we cover a list of pipe materials that are not commonly used and are antiquated technology.

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