What is the Best Pipe Material?

Most modern plumbing systems are designed to last for 60 years or longer. Preventative maintenance and routine inspections are the reason most plumbing systems work properly for decades. Whether you’re battling an aging house or recurring plumbing issues, it may be time to invest in new material. Over the past century, plumbing pipes have evolved. As we discover material that lasts longer and avoids corrosion, we can make better choices with repairs and replacements.

Supply Pipes

The supply pipes that run into your home are the lines that carry water to your fixtures when you open the faucet. These pipes are used frequently, as they transport water every minute of the day, which puts under a lot of pressure. From washing your hands to doing the laundry, these pipes are the heavy lifters of your plumbing system.

Drain Lines

Drain lines are responsible for clearing away the dirty water, but they often corrode over time. It’s important that these lines are free of debris so waste can drain quickly. Even with the best efforts, it’s impossible to stop all food particles, grease and other foreign objects from going down the drain.

How Long Pipes Last

The longevity of your pipes will depend on their use and the pipe material. Consider the age of your home to best determine what your pipes are made of. Based on when your home was built, you can determine your pipe material and when you’ll likely need to start making repairs and replacements.

  • Copper: Copper pipes can last for more than 50 years. These bronze colored pipes have been used since the 1970s. They turn a brown or deep rust color as they age. For many homeowners, copper pipes will not need to be replaced during a lifetime, but should be inspected and maintained accordingly each year.
  • Galvanized Steel: Builders used galvanized steel pipes in homes leading up to the 1970s. The material is only designed to last for roughly 40 years, which is why builders opted for other materials in the late 70s.
  • PB (polybutylene): These pipes are typically gray, black or blue and marked with “PB2110.” Although these flexible pipes can last up to 25 years, their lifespan is nearly half that long in some parts of the country.
  • PVC (polyvinyl-chloride): The white plastic pipes are most commonly used as drain pipes and can last 50 to 70 years when properly cleaned and maintained.
  • PEX (cross-linked polyethylene): PEX pipes are made of plastic, can last for 40 years and are often used because of their flexibility. The lines are typically white, red or blue, which indicate hot and cold lines.
  • Cast Iron: This pipe has a black finish and was used in homes through the mid-1960s. These pipes can last for nearly a century with preventative care.

If you’re in need of pipe repair or replacement, speak with your local professional plumber to determine the best pipe material your region’s climate and your home. Schedule routine maintenance each year to optimize the lifespan of your system.

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