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What are the different types of pipes used for your home’s plumbing?

Serving Glendale, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, and more of AZ with professional plumbing services since 2001

Plumbing pipes are used to carry water to your home and remove waste from it. And as you probably know, having a functional plumbing system is extremely important in the hygiene and functionality of your home and it is important to know which pipes serve what purpose. There are numerous different materials used to plumb a home. Here are some of the most commonly used materials you can expect to see in your home’s plumbing.

PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride):

PVC can be used for plumbing both water and waste lines. PVC is a white plastic and was one of the original forms of plastic piping. Many professional plumbers may prefer to use ABS piping but PVC can still be seen regularly used and readily available at most hardware stores.

ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene):

ABS is commonly used for drain and vent lines. It looks very similar to PVC but it is black in color. ABS is a durable and cost effective material but it may not be the solution for all projects depending on what is needed and whether your local regulations allow for it.  


Copper is commonly used for supplying water to homes and business buildings. Copper is a strong, yet easy to work with material that does not leach chemicals under harsh temperatures like many plastics do and is therefore the safer and healthier option for supplying fresh water. Copper piping is durable yet easy to cut with the right tools making it a preferred material among expert plumbers. While copper can be expensive (and has recently gone up in price) it connects via being soldered or melted together which makes it a sturdy choice with a reliable lifespan.

CPVC (Chlorinated Poly-Vinyl Chloride): 

CPVC is also used to supply water to buildings. It is considered to be more resistant to corroding or breaking down over time as opposed to traditional PVC. Like most plastic piping, CPVC is held together via connection fittings and a specialized glue. Often, this glue can take longer than expected to fully dry (upwards of 2 hours). So while CPVC can be a great material, be prepared for a bit of a wait time when having repairs performed on your water lines.

PEX (Cross-linked Polyethylene): 

PEX piping is used to supply water to a home or business. PEX is a  pliable plastic material that is typically less expensive than other materials (like copper) and is strong yet maneuverable. PEX piping also comes in different colors allowing for easy recognition of hot and cold water lines that can be colored red and blue respectively. 

Cast iron:

Cast iron is used for drains and vent lines and is often found in older homes. Cast iron is durable with a good lifespan but can be expensive to maintain and repair. Cast iron can also fracture or split over time allowing for toilet paper and waste to get caught on rough ridges inside the pipe which may lead to plumbing back ups. Once a cast iron pipe has reached the end of its life, it will commonly be replaced by ABS piping as it is a more cost effective solution. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What Are The Main Differences Between PVC And ABS Pipes?
A: While both PVC and ABS are plastic materials commonly used in plumbing, they differ in color and application. PVC is white and can be used for both water and waste lines, whereas ABS is black and is commonly used for drain and vent lines. The choice between the two often depends on local regulations and the specific needs of your plumbing project.

Q: Is Copper Piping Worth The Higher Cost Compared To Plastic Options?
A: Copper piping is generally more expensive than plastic options like PVC or PEX, but it has several advantages. Copper is a strong material that doesn’t leach chemicals, making it a safer and healthier option for fresh water supply. Its durability and ease of working make it a favorite among professional plumbers. If you’re looking for a long-lasting, reliable material, copper is often worth the investment.

Q: What Should I Know About Using CPVC Pipes?
A: CPVC pipes are a chlorinated version of PVC and are commonly used for water supply lines. They are more resistant to corrosion compared to PVC. However, when gluing CPVC connections, be prepared for a longer drying time—often upwards of two hours. This may extend the time needed for repairs or installations.

Q: Can PEX Piping Be Used For Both Hot And Cold Water Lines?
A: Yes, PEX piping is versatile and can be used for both hot and cold water lines. It even comes in different colors like red and blue, allowing for easy identification of hot and cold water lines respectively. PEX is also generally less expensive than other materials like copper, and its flexibility makes it easier to install.

Q: How Do I Know If My Cast Iron Pipes Need To Be Replaced?
A: Cast iron pipes are often found in older homes and are used for drains and vent lines. While they are durable, they can become susceptible to fractures or splits over time. These irregularities can cause blockages or backups. If you’re experiencing frequent plumbing issues and you have cast iron pipes, it might be time to consider replacing them, typically with a more modern and cost-effective material like ABS.

We hope these FAQs provide you with the information you need about the different types of pipes used in home plumbing. If you have further questions or need assistance, feel free to reach out to us at Instant Plumbing and Rooter.

About Us

Instant Plumbing and Rooter LLC is a family-owned and operated plumbing business in Phoenix, AZ. We’re a family of reliable professionals that use the latest techniques for dependable plumbing services. Since 2001, we have been taking care of our community’s plumbing needs promptly and professionally.

Through our work, we aim to change the perception of plumbers in our community. Our goal is to make homeowners like you more informed, as well as show others that being a plumber is not just about unclogging toilets.

A plumber brings hygiene, sanitation, and comfort to everyone, and that’s what we’re here to help you with.

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