10 Different Types Of Pipes For Water Supply

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By Bryan Peters

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If you are looking for the best pipes to use in your home plumbing mechanism, you will need clarification about which one to use, as many are out there.

Different types of pipes use different materials. For instance, those transporting drinking water use different materials than those transporting drain water.

Even though you have a home with a plumbing mechanism that utilizes every type of material for the water supply pipes, you shouldn’t be amazed to discover that most pipes, especially in older homes, have experienced several plumbing repairs or updates.

In this article, we’ll be highlighting the most common types of pipes for water supply!

Different Types Of Pipes For Water Supply

1. Cast Iron Pipes

Cast iron pipes are one of the most common types of water supply in our homes. This type of pipe is primarily used in water distribution systems significantly due to its low cost, high resistance to corrosion, and high durability. 

You can produce cast iron pipes through several methods. They include horizontally cast (MC ware pipes), Vertical cast (pit cast in sand molds), centrifugally cast in sand lines molds spun type, centrifugally cast in water-cooled metal molds, etc.

However, these days horizontally cast C.I. pipes are no longer utilized.

On the other hand, centrifugally cast pipes features fine-grained dense structure and uniform thickness, which explains why they are primarily utilized. However, you must be very careful when transporting and connecting these pipes to avoid damaging them.

2. Copper Pipes

If you are looking for a piping installation for hot and cold water supply, you shouldn’t look beyond copper pipes. It is also a pipe often utilized in HVAC mechanisms for refrigerant lines. Initially used in a gas piping system, it was no longer permitted in some areas. 

Again, you can use copper pipes in any application, whether underground or above ground. However, some soils can affect copper; hence, they must be covered with a protective sleeve for underground applications.

For several years, copper has been the gold standard for water supply pipes, especially since galvanized steel continues to lose favor.

Another exciting feature of copper pipes is that they are durable, lasting over 50 years; however, the older it gets, its copper begins to thin out, resulting in pinhole leaks.

Today, different types of plastic have replaced copper as a favorite, but copper pipes and fittings still primarily exist.

Because of the high price of copper and the more prolonged labor required for its installation, several builders will instead go for alternative water distribution piping like PEX.

However, copper is still mainly preferred to CVPC and PEX piping, but it depends on the town you live in or commercial versus residential applications.

3. Concrete Pipes

Concrete pipes are one of the most common types of water supply. However, there’s nothing much to report regarding this type apart from the fact that it is a reinforced pipe of small diameters and a reinforced and prestressed pipe of large diameters.

They are all used for the distribution of water and other services. Meanwhile, small unreinforced concrete pipes are primarily used for draining rainwater, while the large-diameter varieties are widely utilized for primary water distribution services.

4. Steel Pipes

Steel pipe is a significant source of water supply mechanism for homes. However, it can only be recommended when pipes are subjected to very high pressure, precisely over 7kg/cm2. Also, you are allowed to use it for water supply in situations where large-diameter pipes are needed.

Meanwhile, steel pipes are preferable, thanks in large parts, to their stronger and lighter weight, especially when compared to C.I. pipes.

However, these pipes need proper preventive measures to maintain adverse atmospheric conditions. It is a Hume Steel pipe if you encase steel pipes in cement mortar or concrete.

5. Asbestos Cement Pipes

Also called A.C. pipes, Asbestos cement pipes serve drainage purposes. In other words, they drain rainwater from roofs, soil, and waste and are good piping sources for ventilation.

There are two types of A.C. pipes, one with beading around the socket (W.B.) and one without beading around the socket (WOB).

Meanwhile, the one without beading is more popular and widely used than the one with a beading socket. Again, these pipes measure 3 meters in length. However, their primary defect is that they are heavy and easily break. But they are less expensive than PVC pipes.

6. Galvanized Iron Pipes

Commonly abbreviated as G.I. pipes, the galvanized pipe is a piping type also used for water supply, but mainly within a building than out of it.

This type of pipe is wrought steel pipe that comes with zinc coating. You can find it in light, medium, and heavy grades depending on the thickness of the metal.

For instance, if you are going for a 15 mm G.I. pipe, its thickness ranges from 2.0 (for the light grades), 2.65 (for the medium grades), and 3.25 (for the heavy grades). However, in general, the medium-grade variety serves internal plumbing purposes.

Again, screw and socket joints are often used for galvanized iron pipes. People living in old homes, like before the 1960s, use this type of pipe. Home inspection agencies say galvanized pipe can last up to 40 years.

However, once it approaches that age, you’ll need an upgrade, but if it’s still in good condition, you can cut and thread it to match your needs through hardware stores with various fittings.

7. PVC Pipes (Plastic or Polythene)

PVC pipes have several names: plastic pipes, polyethylene pipes, etc. It is also an acronym for the phrase Polyvinyl Chloride. Unlike most other types of pipes for water supply, PVC pipe is used for various purposes but primarily serves as a drainage mechanism.  

However, PVC is hardly used in potable water applications, and in several jurisdictions, drinking this water is highly prohibited, as it is unsafe.

You can also find this piping system in pool and spa systems. This plastic pipe usually comes in white but can sometimes feature other colors.

The colors and marks on the pipe will usually tell you what it serves. For instance, purple tube featuring black lettering is often used for reclaimed water.

Also, PVC features different thicknesses, otherwise known as schedules. However, schedule 40 is typical for pipes used to supply water.

You can make PVC connections using a primer, which helps soften the PVC and then apply a PVC glue to help melt the joints and pipe together.

Again, this pipe is increasingly used for cold water distribution in both external and internal plumbing activities. It is generally lightweight, non-corrosive, cheap, and doesn’t need any connection threading.

8. PEX

Also known as cross-linked polyethylene, the PEX can strongly resist hot and cold temperatures. In other words, it widely serves hot and cold water lines in homes and is used for hydraulic heating mechanisms like radiant under-floor mechanisms.

Sometimes called XLPEI, the PEX is often more long-lasting than copper pipes and has a lifespan of over 50 years.

Professional plumbers today have now widely replaced copper and other pipe types with PEX, thanks to its affordability and the fact that it is available in long rolls of tubing that are easy to transport.

Since it is easier to bend the flexible tubing around corners, fewer elbows and other fittings are needed to speed up installation. Also, you can join PEX pipes in various ways, which include push-fit fittings and crimp rings protected with specialty PEX tools.

9. CPVC

CPVC is an acronym for Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride. It sometimes comes with cream-colored or off-white plastic.

It is a type of plumbing pipe that can resist temperatures of around 180 degrees Fahrenheit or over, depending on the schedule. Therefore, you can use it for both hot and cold water lines.

This pipe can be used as a supplement to the PVC piping system. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) states that CPVC and PVC pipes can last up to 50 to 80 years if given the proper care.

Still, it can also experience early failure in some situations. Just like PVC, primer, and glue is required in manufacturing CPVC joint.

10. Polybutylene Pipes

Most commonly called P.B. pipes; Polybutylene pipes have existed since the late 1970s to the middle 1990s and have been popular options for plumbing since then. It has been utilized in over ten million homes established during that time.

This pipe is a plastic resin previously perceived as a futuristic substance that perfectly replaces copper. It is a grey plastic pipe that formerly and presently serves as a less expensive option but is easy to deal with.

However, people stopped using it when they discovered that P.B. pipes were susceptible to leakage around the joints.

Conclusion

Unlike open wells, plumbing pipes come with various functions and advantages, including transporting water with gravity and improving water quality.

But they also have a few disadvantages, like high initial costs, high maintenance charges, risk of leakage, and contamination.

However, thanks to modern technology, you can improve the materials of the pipes for use in any environmental circumstances.

Again, note that in properly planned and designed water supply mechanisms, you can treat water and chlorinate it before supplying it to avoid recontamination on the way to the final consumer.