In the past, many homes and businesses used bronze, copper, or galvanized iron for all their plumbing needs. In recent times, plastic pipes have become more popular due to their many benefits. Of course a few decades back, lead piping was the only logical choice, but they have since been discontinued due to the many health hazards. If there are any lead pipes still within a home or business they should be removed as soon as possible.
Plastic pipes are available in either PVC or CPVC. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is used for drains, vents, and cold water supply. While CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) is designed for hot water supply as it has been manufactured with heat-resistant properties.
Corrosion and Degradation
Pipes that are formed with metal will rust and corrode over time which leads to breaking pipes and costly repairs. Corrosion in copper piping can lead to the trace amounts bleeding into the drinking water which can cause health risks over time. Small amounts of copper in drinking water are believed to contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Plastic pipes resist corrosion even while buried deep within the ground or under concrete slabs. Plastic pipes that are sold for the sole purpose of plumbing must be nontoxic and approved to carry potable water. Unlike galvanized pipes, CPVC and PVC pipes will never rust. With plastic pipes carrying your water through the house, there will never be a metallic or rust taste to the water.
Considering that plastic pipes will not rust or corrode they are not subject to scaling. This means that there is little chance for them to develop a build-up on the inner surfaces. This build-up typically occurs in metal pipes and causes issues for the homeowner and generally requires the assistance of a plumber. Typical problems from build-up include decreased water pressure, blocked water flow, and eventually backups in the drain. You will rarely have these types of problems when using plastic pipes as the flow is rarely interrupted. If you want to go with plastic pipes for this reason an expert plumber can help you with this.
Energy Use and the Environment
Plastic pipes are designed with much thicker walls than their metal counterparts. This is a built-in insulator and keeps the heat in the pipes, saving a lot of energy. Unlike metal piping, plastic has low thermal conductivity, which simply means it cannot conduct heat like copper and heat. This mean that hot water will hold its temperature which reduces higher heating costs and offers the convenience of faster hot water. While there is always a risk with pipes freezing and busting it is less likely with plastic pipes during those cold winter months.
Plastic pipes are also recyclable which will only help the environment after their use is done. They will not sit in a landfill for years, instead they will be used for other projects.
Plastic is always going to be cheaper to buy than any of the metal piping options. Considering how much they weight they are less expensive than metal piping with transportation costs. With this potential for savings, the cost is passed on to consumers. Whether new pipes are being installed or just minor repairs are needed, plastic piping will be the cheaper alternative.
Lastly, consider that the plastic pipes you buy today will last for decades. There is never a risk of corrosion or degradation that is so common with metal piping. In fact, many plastic pipes keep that brand new look for 25 years or more!