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Sweetwater Plumbing Blog

A Closer Look at Plastic Plumbing Pipes

pcv-pipes-plumbingModern plumbing systems, whether in homes or commercial/industrial buildings, make extensive use of plastic pipes along with metal pipes (usually copper). The most common of these pipes, PVC, which we’ll get into in greater depth below, was invented more than a hundred years ago and by the 1950s was established as a major part of the construction industry. It wasn’t until 1970 that PVC and other plastic pipes started to replace metal pipes in many plumbing systems. Now there is a variety of different kinds of plastic pipes in use in homes and commercial facilities. Below is a list of the types of plastic that our plumbers use for different repiping and new plumbing work throughout Southern California.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pipes

PVC was invented in Germany in 1913 and is one of the standards in contemporary construction. The benefits of PVC pipes are that they won’t corrode or rust like most metals. It’s an inexpensive material that’s easy for plumbers to work with, and it can handle high water pressure—this is why PVC is often used for the water mains to homes and businesses. Plumbers frequently use them for sinks, toilets, and bathtub drain lines. The major limitation with PVC pipes is that they aren’t good for hot water lines because heat causes them to warp.

Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) Pipes

This advance on PVC pipes is a popular alternative for a number of situations. It has most of the benefits of PVC pipes but can be used on both cold and hot water lines because it won’t warp from heat. CPVC pipes are more flexible and even easier to work with. The downsides are there susceptibility to splitting if they freeze—which is not a problem Southern California plumbing systems often run into! The material is also not able to be recycled.

Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) Pipes

This is the most versatile type of pipe: it can work in almost any capacity (hot water, cold water, wastewater) and is particularly resistant to heat, making it a top choice for hot water lines. The pipe material can be easily inserted into walls and extend over long distances without concern about pressure creating cracks. The pipes are great for doing retrofits on older homes.

Polybutylene Pipes

Okay, we don’t use these types of pipes, but they’re important to mention because many homes have them. Polybutylene is a kind of plastic resin that was used for plumbing pipes from 1978 until 1995. They are prone to breakage, which is why they haven’t been used for more than two decades. We recommend replacing polybutylene pipes that may be in your home. You can usually tell these pipes by their gray plastic coloration.

Call for a Fontana, CA plumbing service if you think your home or business needs a plumbing upgrade to new pipes. Our plumbers work with the best in piping material, and they’ll use the right pipes replacements and installations to ensure you have a top-notch plumbing system that will work with few problems for decades to come.

Look to us for all your pipe replacement and whole-house repiping needs. Sweetwater Plumbing—Always open for business!

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