10 Types of Pipes for Plumbing (With Their Uses)

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The importance of plumbing in our contemporary society cannot be over-emphasized. It is universal, as you can find it in various residential homes, commercial businesses, industrial factories, etc.

Thanks to plumbing, you’ll not need to collect water daily. It also enhances passages of used water from toilets and baths.

However, only some plumbing systems have the same type, and some pipes are used in different ways, including PVC, PEX, Copper, Galvanized steel, ABS, and Cast iron piping. While some are means of supplying portable water, others are used to transport gas. 

For clarity purposes, we will highlight some of the most common types of pipes for plumbing and their specific uses. This article will help you choose which is viable for your home and how to use them more significantly.

Different Types Of Pipes For Plumbing And Their Uses

There are several types of pipes for plumbing, and they can be utilized for specific functions. Some are used to transport water to the kitchen faucet; others are for delivering waste to your sewage system.

Below is a brief run-down of some of the most common pipe types for plumbing and their various uses;

1. PVC Pipes (Polyvinyl Chloride)

The full name for the PVC pipe is Polyvinyl Chloride. It is a white plastic pipe material used for waste lines.

PVC pipes became popular because they serve a much lighter and easier purpose than traditional galvanized steel pipes. Again, it is less expensive and relatively long-lasting.

Meanwhile, PVC pipe is reasonably straightforward as long its installation is concerned and needs little more than a hacksaw and a miter box to cut.

You can glue them together just with solvents. PVC pipes help to supply water or drainage and hardly change water quality since it doesn’t rust. 

These exciting features make PVC pipes one of the best choices as long as transportation of drinking water is concerned. You can also connect PVC pipes to metal piping in several applications.

However, it is not advisable for use as a gas line, as it is made of plastic. You can only use this Pipe in some places; hence, you must check your local regulations before usage.

2. PEX Pipes (Cross-linked Polyethylene)

Also known as affordable plastic tubing, the PEX Pipe type is durable plastic piping that serves as a water supply line. It is solid enough to withstand the immense pressures of water supply yet flexible enough to weave throughout walls, basements, ceilings, and crawlspaces.

One of the exciting features of the PEX Pipe is that it is not as expensive as several other piping materials.

Cross-linked polyethylene, as it is sometimes called, is a favorite for professionals because of its flexibility. Like PVC pipe, it doesn’t contact rust or corrosion from leaching into the water.

Again, this Pipe measures the ½-inch and 3/4-inch in diameter, and you won’t find it hard to cut and join. These tubes are significantly color-coded red for hot water and blue for cold water, which makes it easy to identify and organize during plumbing activities.

However, like other piping types, you must check your local codes before you install the PEX pipe.

3. Copper Pipes

Another common type of Pipe for plumbing is copper pipe, which is made of small diameter and pure copper.

You can see this thanks to their bright reddish-brown looks. Given that copper hardly contracts rust, it can be durable. However, since it is a costly material, you can only use them in limited places.

Again, copper pipes can serve as means of transporting hot water or steam. Unlike the flexible varieties, rigid copper can hardly bend or sag even at high temperatures.

Another exciting part is that, unlike other pipe materials like plastics that leach chemicals, copper pipes don’t have any health risks, which is one of the reasons why it is valued.

As we discussed earlier, rigid copper pipes are very long-lasting, and you can cut them easily using a tubing cutter or hacksaw, which is a little expensive.

The soldier-type connection is the most viable option for connections of this Pipe, as it needs experience and safety measures.

4. Galvanized Steel Pipes

There are two kinds of pipes that you can sometimes find in older homes and are infrequently installed, namely, galvanized steel and cast iron pipe. However, if you want to choose iron or steel, you should look at galvanized pipes. 

Galvanized Pipe is a metal tubing coated with zinc to enhance its longevity. The additional protection is an obstacle to protecting the base metal from materials that can cause corrosion. Even though galvanized Pipe is very long-lasting, it is also expensive to install.

This type of Pipe is a rigid steel piping system that resists corrosion. It has existed for many years as a drainage system to supply water and gas, amongst other functions.

However, you can hardly find them around these days, as they are no longer used for water supply in new construction or remodel projects but are primarily used for gas supply.

Meanwhile, both ends of a galvanized steel pipe are threaded, and individual pipes are fastened into each other with connecting fittings.

Years back, it was the best option as long as residential plumbing was concerned. It is very tough to explain why it is excellent for places with minimal risk of impact and abrasion.

5. ABS Pipes

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, abbreviated as ABS pipe, is manufactured from thermoplastic resin and looks almost like PVC pipe other than its black color and the fact that it is a little softer. Again, the ABS pipe primarily functions as a vent and drain line.

This type of Pipe is relatively long-lasting and resistant to cold temperatures. However, if you expose it to excessive sunlight, it can warp and degrade it. It is also a cost-effective choice; you can hardly code it everywhere; therefore, you must check your local regulations.

6. Cast Iron Pipe

If a rigid, dark gray piping mechanism is your favorite, you can look no further than Cast Iron Pipe. It usually serves sewer and other drainage purposes and is still present in most homes and other commercial and high-rise building applications.

In other words, even though you rarely find them in new constructions, they are primarily seen in 20th-century homes. Despite how ancient it is, cast iron pipes are very durable and still used for parts of water distribution mechanisms.

Again, the cast iron pipe has been famous and is still a favorite among homeowners, thanks to its heat-resistant features and ability to reduce the sound of moving water.

However, it is often prone to rust and corrosion, and in the long run, these defects will affect its ability to keep a clean water supply.

7. Flexi Pipe

The full name for flexi Pipe is Flexible Pipe, thanks to its flexible tubing, typically a product of stainless steel. It is mainly used for final piping connections to appliances like water heaters, toilets, and sinks. However, you are not allowed to use it inside walls or floors.

Meanwhile, flexi pipes feature various lengths and sizes. It is also relatively durable, even though it is not entirely out of place for it to fail after years of wear and tear. Again, it is an expensive option, even though you don’t necessarily need many of it for a project.

8. Concrete Pipe

You can get your precast concrete Pipe in various sizes up to 72 inches in diameter and around 180 inches on a particular order.

These pipes are reinforced except in sizes below 24 inches in diameter. Meanwhile, the reinforcements may adopt the appearance of spirally wound wire or elliptical boom.

The precast version of Concrete Pipe is often produced by rotating the form swiftly around the pipe axis. The centrifugal presence forces the mortar tightly against the forms and causes high-density watertight concrete.

Owing to better control in its production, a precast concrete pipe is always of high-end quality and does not require to be too thick as a cast-in-place pipe of similar size.

Due to the importance of moving plants and forms over long distances, cast-in-place pipe becomes pretty expensive. It is usually used only for pipe sizes unavailable in precast form or where transportation challenges use precast Pipe impossible. 

Meanwhile, an average concrete pipe is durable and should last between 35 to 50 years in moderate conditions. Water from alkaline may result in the swift deterioration of thin concrete sections.

Concrete pipes with wastewater will probably suffer sulfide corrosion and only live long if you take proper precautions.

Concrete pipes are still used today and function even in low and high pressure. Plain concrete pipes are low-pressure products, while RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete) pipes are products of high stress.

Meanwhile, they require low-cost maintenance, as rust rarely affects them. They can also be produced at will and are heavy; hence, they can be challenging to transport and repair.

9. Vitrified Clay Pipe

Vitrified Clay Pipe is not usually used as pressure pipe but primarily for sewage and drainage use for flows that occur at partial depth.

The most exciting feature of this plumbing pipe is that it is entirely corrosion-free, durable, and has a smooth surface that offers high hydraulic efficiency.

Using vitrified clay pipe under pressure is often hampered by its low strength in tension and the challenges of securing watertight joints. The most notable joint for this Pipe is the bell-and-spigot flexible compression joint in which precision-mated surfaces are in close contact.

This Pipe consists of 3 feet lengths, but 2, 2.5, and 4 feet lengths can be derived. There are differences in the inside diameters by 2 inches increments from 4 to 12 inches and by 3 inches increments above 12 inches.

Also, clay pipes with diameters over 36 inches are hardly used.

10. Wrought Iron Pipe

Wrought iron pipe is often likened to G.I. Pipes. It is most commonly used to transport water, gas, or other liquid from place to place.

The only difference between both pipes is that wrought iron pipe is made of wielding wrought iron sheet. Additionally, seamless pipes are also produced.

This kind of Pipe carries lesser weight. Cutting, threading, and bending of this Pipe is relatively more straightforward.

If you want to join this type of Pipe, you must use the following joints; socket joint, flanged joint, and welded joint. The wrought iron pipe is 12mm (0.5 inches) to 15 cm (6 inches) in diameter.


As mentioned earlier, many notable plumbing pipes help transport water to and out of fixtures and appliances. So, it can be pretty confusing. However, the article above will give you a proper understanding of which Pipe best suits a particular purpose.

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