There’s a common fuss amongst the people, we love to follow trends rather than create our own. It’s not a foul deed, but the same psychology is applied by any plumber you hire these days.
For any form of remodeling or fixing, plastic (PVC) pipes emerge as their first choice. Not to imply that it’s not good enough of a material, but we try our best constantly to outsmart the current cycle and be better by being innovative.
The outright question of “what pipes are best and cheapest for domestic use/plumbing within the home” arrived recently, so our heads were put together and researches were made, to ensure you get the best of opinions, combining what we know and what we believe to be the best.
The PEX pipe, being the latest form of piping (after thorough research), is the best form of pipes for domestic plumbing. They typically are designed for residential use; they cut easily and fewer fittings are required for installation. They are really quite flexible, which when combined with other factors, eases the installation process. It has reduced operational noise, a sizable price tag and very good resistance to high temperature. With regards to the quality of services mentioned, it is quite cheap.
However, although our opinion is believed to be valid, we encourage that further research from your side should be done to know which one is best for you and for your unique scenario.
To reduce the stress of further research, we compiled our other articles. Visit the following links if you’re trying to find out the best pipes for domestic outdoor plumbing, best pipes for underground plumbing, best pipes for sewage/wastewater, and best pipes for hot water.
Criteria to Consider in Choosing the Best/Cheapest Pipes
Here are some of the factors you might consider when choosing the best and cheapest pipes for your domestic environment.
- Complex design/possible future adjustments
- Cost of purchase
- Safety to health
- Cost of installation
- Exposure to climate/temperature
- Exposure to soil
Longevity, by its primary definition, is the time required for a particular pipe to elapse its time limit. Time limits may vary depending on what pipe is considered.
With this criterion, copper has proven to be the best in this regard. In terms of how long they do last, some may regard copper as the premium type of domestic pipe, as they can supposedly last from 60 to 80 years. As a bonus, they are recyclable, even at the very old stages of their life span.
Complex Design/Possible Future Adjustments
There are certain individuals, ourselves included, that always plan to construct in such a way that it can be adjusted, restructured, or easily repairable provided a fault may develop in the future. Maybe you just need to change some things for particular reasons.
You would need a pipe type that supports this policy, because most pipes are not easily adjusted and can be very tricky. PEX pipes are best for such a feat, as it is easily adjustable and requires far less critical thinking to fix and restructure.
Cost of Purchase
The price tag on how much you would be getting a specific commodity, in this case, “pipes” should be equal to the quality of service you get in return.
Alternatives do exist, and they perform all functions you want, but probably not up to the ones with high costs.
PVC plastic pipes have proven to be the cheapest, although they do vary as some PVC pipes can be expensive. In general, they stake the claim of being the cheapest of all, as it’s due to the vast availability of plastic.
Copper, on the other hand, is the most expensive mostly as a result of its material quality, durability, and recyclable value.
Safety to Health
When it comes to plumbing, the effect of your installed pipe on its running water is one of the main reasons why some materials are allowed for domestic use.
The pipe type/material can either be safe with little or no contamination to contained water, or it can be detrimental by leaching unhealthy particles into the water.
The best type of pipe with regards to its safety is PP (Polypropylene Pipe), with PVC and PEX pipes coming in as close favorites. PP is a rigid plastic pipe, with no chemical fusion for bonding and has a renowned reputation for being suitable for potable water.
Cost of Installation
Another criterion to consider when selecting a type of pipe for installation is the cost of the installation itself. Many people from the days of our fathers prefer to fix and install whatever they can with their hands provided they can “especially non-specialists”. A pipe type that easily accords to this kind of mindset, if you would rather install them yourself than hire professionals, is the CPVC pipe (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride). They almost do not require any special tool or skill and are the easiest to install provided that a hacksaw, adhesive and the manufacturing company’s fittings are available.
Exposure to Climate/Temperature
Whether your pipe will be exposed to harsh climates or temperature would assist in selecting the best kind of pipe for domestic use. A very hot or cold climate/ temperature causes lot of materials to shift and reform; in some cases, they expand or shrink. A pipe type that best resists such factor is the COPPER pipe, but as a result of its price, PEX pipes performs near equal and can also resist high temperature above the rest. It comes at a cheaper rate too.
Exposure to Soil
Depending on the prescribed design, pipe lines tend to follow areas that best assist the flow rate and avoids damage by external forces. Sometimes, those areas can be beneath the soil, if by chance your plumbing plan happens to involve going through the soil, the effect of the specific soil should be considered as constant exposure to soil moisture and other nutrients may affect pipe negatively. The best pipes for this are ones within the PLASTIC family, the lack of metallic properties would prevent the risk of corrosion by soil and water; it will also prevent the risk of water contamination when a chemical imbalance occurs between pipe and soil.
Pipe Types for Home and Domestic Installation
The most ideal pipe types suitable for home or domestic use include:
- CPVC pipes
- PVC pipes
- PEX pipes
- Copper pipes
- PP pipes
Additional pipes that can be utilized as a result of personal preference or for a unique reason include:
- Galvanized pipes
- Brass pipes
- Stainless steel pipes
- Cast iron pipes
As technical as the name may seem, CPVC, fully known as Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride, is just another form of modified plastic pipes (a.k.a. thermoplastic).
It is produced by means of chlorination of the PVC pipes, which will allow it to be more flexible and more resistant to high temperature. The presence of extra chlorine also makes it better for potable water.
- They can be used for both cold and hot water supply.
- Easily fixable and can be done with no special skill or tool.
- Durable (can last from 50 to 70 years), provided it is properly kept.
- Ideal for potable water
- Fairly strong resistance to fire and harsh chemicals
- It possesses the same external diameter/sizing as copper and PEX pipes, therefore similar push-fit fittings can be utilized.
- Although it is easy to fix, it requires more bracing to install firmly.
- It costs twice as much as PVC pipes, making them fairly expensive.
- Excessive exposure to extreme heat or cold affects pipe negatively, allowing it to either expand due to heat or break as a result of excess cold.
- They cannot be recycled when old.
- These may be a little flexible, but it still is brittle, which will allow easy damage from high impact.
PVC pipes, until recently, have been the most preferred form of plumbing since the 70s. They are easy to use, cheap, and can last for a substantial period of time.
PVC is a strong favorite for most plumbers because it’s one that can be easily put together using primers and cement. The gluing is mostly done at the joints.
They are very versatile and they come in various sizes and fittings.
- Inexpensive; the cost of purchase can be relatively low
- Easy to use and install as it requires no welding or metal work
- Durable, although they don’t last as long, unlike most other forms of piping.
- Resistant to corrosion
- Can withstand high water pressure
- It is fairly flexible and malleable
- Brittle, which can result in damage when subject to high impact
- Prone to leakages because used glues can be poorly applied or might tend to wear off over time.
- PVC pipes possess chemical compounds such as organotin and vinyl chloride which may cause cancer.
- The glues used to combine pipes also contain strong solvents that can be harmful to consumers.
- Cannot handle high temperatures. If exposed, pipes may more than likely distort in shape by heat or break by cold.
PEX pipes are the latest by-product of innovation for pipes in the world of plumbing.
They are best applied mostly in new homes and for interior remodeling. It has the bonus of being able to be fixed within areas with low ventilation or tight parts of the home.
- High resistance to hot and cold water. Can be used directly with hydronic heating systems.
- High flexibility which reduces the use of fittings.
- Fairly affordable for the quality of service it offers.
- They can be spliced or combined which existing pipes of other materials such as copper and CPVC; it makes it a good pick for retrofitting.
- It tends to fit into areas where other pipes cannot, mostly in areas with poor ventilation which is very dangerous for glue.
- Easy to install
- Reduces operational noise
- It is durable, provided that it is used and maintained properly.
- PEX pipings contain a chemical that reduces their tendency to damage. The presence of this chemical, however, combined with the thickness of PEX pipe material, reduces the water flow down to about 5 to 6%. Trying to excessively increase speed may gradually cause internal damage to the pipe, reducing its life span.
- The overly increased water pressure causes it to pop indefinitely, that is, when using them in large organizations. In other words, they are not meant for commercial environments. You can only use them in smaller size branch piping; pipings going beyond one inch are not ideal for PEX pipes.
- Failure from PEX piping is sudden; it gives little to no warning signs before it fails.
- Currently, there are no known ways to recycle PEX pipes if their usage is exceeded.
- It is not ideal for outdoor purposes, as it tends to deteriorate with direct contact with sunlight.
- Easily recyclable and has high monetary value even when it gets old.
- Handles heat and water pressure well.
- Resistant to corrosion and can be managed easily.
- They come in variations of thickness that are optimum to interior cold and hot water supply with inclusions of underground service lines.
- They are highly durable.
- It doesn’t degrade with water and resists the growth of bacteria, making it safe for potable water. In other words, they have antimicrobial particles.
- Not prone to leakages; fittings and joints stay tight and sealed.
- It is very expensive
- It requires a level of skill, knowledge, and specialized tools to install. In other words, get a plumber or you might run the risk of having leaks.
- Costs of installation are relatively high.
- Application of fittings and valves draws extra costs. It is aesthetically excellent when done well, but it is tedious to achieve.
- Copper pipes tend to be heavy; not particularly as smaller pipes, but the bigger the pipe, the heavier it is.
- It is exposed to corrosion if contained water becomes too acidic.
- Copper pipes tend to break when exposed to extreme cold, if the ones used are light in thickness.
Polypropylene pipes are pipe types that are mostly used in the UK.
It is quite similar to CPVC, as they are both rigid forms of plastic pipes and require no chemicals to join them.
A fusion by heat is used to combine this type of pipe making it safe with regards to health and durability.
- It is relatively not as expensive.
- Possesses high impermeability and chemical resistance.
- It has a semi-crystalline structure, leading to its substantial flexural strength; meaning it is very flexible and can be bent or molded excessively without breakage.
- It is easily repaired when subject to damage.
- It is ideal for potable water.
- It can be remolded and shaped to personal preference.
- It doesn’t react well with excess heat, pipe tends to expand or melt.
- It has high flammability and is difficult to paint.
- It degrades with exposure to ultraviolet rays from sun.
- Comparatively has a low duration/life span
- Degradation from the sun further leads to oxidation, further causing the forming of cracks within the plastic.