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Types of Pipes Used in Plumbing

Do you know what types of pipes there are in your home’s plumbing system? Over the years, plumbing has gradually evolved from using all-metal pipes to all plastic-ones in most buildings. However, the older a home or other building is, the more likely there is to be a Frankenstein-like array of piping due to repairs and replacements over time.

While knowing what types of pipes your home has may not be something that’s necessary for you on a daily basis, it can be helpful when it comes time for a repair, a replacement or when you’re planning a renovation. Knowing the types of water supply pipes and other pipes you have can save some time and help you decide the best type of pipes to use as you proceed.

Let’s look at some commonly used types of pipes; you might be surprised that there are so many!


PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, and PVC pipes are extremely common these days. In fact, of all types of plastic water pipes, PVC is the most common. Their versatility and the fact that they can be used indoors, outdoors, and underground explain the popularity of PVC, and in addition to being useful for supplying water to buildings and fixtures, they work well as drain and vent piping.

Other advantages of PVC piping are that it’s strong, durable, inexpensive, and non-toxic. The material also dampens the sound of water and other fluids running through it, creating a quieter system. Drawbacks are that it can only handle fluids up to 140 degrees F and that creating a connection with it involves two separate steps: primer and cement.


This is very similar to PVC piping, and it has similar uses. Because of the chlorine added to it, it’s harder and more durable than PVC. As a result, it can handle liquids up to 200 degrees F. Although it’s more expensive than PVC, it’s still cheaper than copper piping, the most widely used type of piping for water supply in residential and commercial buildings.


PEX is another type of plastic piping. There are three types of it– A, B, and C– with each characterized by its stiffness (C is the stiffest while A is the most flexible). Not all varieties are available in all areas, which is one of the disadvantages of PEX piping, along with not being suitable for outdoor use and requiring special tools for making connections. However, because even the stiffest variety is still quite flexible, PEX piping is great for quick repairs and requires fewer connections, reducing the possibility of leaks. It, too, is cheaper than copper piping, and when used properly, it’s resistant to corrosion. PEX is used for water supply lines, and it typically comes in two colors: red for hot water and blue for cold water.


Even if you don’t know it by name, you’ve probably seen ABS piping many times. It’s black plastic; the piping is used mainly for drain, vent, and waste piping. The advantages of ABS piping are that it’s suitable for indoor and outdoor use (and can withstand cold temperatures), lightweight and inexpensive, strong and durable, and easy to connect (the joining process uses a one-step cement). However, the principal disadvantage associated with ABS piping is that it contains BPA, a substance that may cause cancer.


Of all non-metal pipe varieties, copper is the most commonly used in commercial and residential water supply applications. Copper pipes can be rigid or flexible and come in three different thicknesses. Other compelling benefits of copper pipes are that they are extremely durable (often lasting more than 50 years), resistant to corrosion, and can handle both hot and cold water. The cons of copper piping are that it has to be welded together, is difficult to use in tight spaces, and is expensive.

Galvanized Steel

Piping made from galvanized steel was commonly used for drain, vent, and waste piping, but today, it’s common in fas piping. Because it has threaded connections, galvanized steel piping is easy to connect. It’s strong, durable, and less expensive than copper. Its downsides are rusting, contaminating fluids, and being prone to rusting.

Cast Iron

Not frequently used in residential settings today, cast-iron piping is mostly used for commercial and civic lines, sewer lines, and drain lines (some much older homes still have cast iron for their piping). It’s heavy and, like galvanized steel, subject to rust and mineral buildup, but it does have some distinct advantages. Those include strength and durability, resistance to heat, and being able to reduce the sounds of fluids running through them.

Black Iron

Heavy and difficult to install, black iron piping used to be common as water supply piping, but now, like galvanized steel, it’s mainly used for gas lines, and for propane lines, and fire sprinklers as well. Like other types of metal piping, black iron piping are highly durable, and like cast iron, it’s resistant to heat.

Let Four Seasons Plumbing Take Care of Your Piping

If you need pipes serviced, installed, or repaired in Asheville and surrounding areas, Four Seasons Plumbing is up to any job. We’re a family-owned and family-operated business with years of experience serving the region and participating in its communities.

With us, you’ll get honest, upfront pricing without any hidden or surprise fees tacked on at the end. Our company is fully licensed and insured, and all of our technicians are friendly, professional, trained, and licensed. In addition to that, all of them pass extensive background checks so that you can feel comfortable and safe about letting us into your home.

At Four Seasons Plumbing, we know that plumbing emergencies can strike at the worst possible time, and that’s why emergency services are available as well so that you don’t have to suffer discomfort or face health risks until office hours resume.

If you need plumbing services, get in touch for a quote!

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.