Gone are the days when the only choices for your household plumbing were choosing between just galvanised steel pipes or cast iron pipes. Today, there are many more options for the pipes in your home to bring water into your home and carry waste water away. In this guide, we explain the 6 different types of plumbing pipes used in homes with their associated functions, advantages, and disadvantages. No matter the type of plumbing pipes in your home, a problem such as a burst pipe or a blocked pipe can still occur. When a problem occurs with your plumbing pipes at home, Plumbing Ways is the emergency plumber who you can rely on.


Different Types of Home Pipes Explained:


If you are planning a home remodel that includes changing the plumbing of your home, you are going to be facing the question of which type of plumbing pipes should be used. With numerous types of plumbing pipes available, it can be challenging to choose the best-suited plumbing pipes for your home. To assist, we have outlined the 6 different types of plumbing pipes you will find in a home with their specific functions as well as any advantages or disadvantages.


1) PVC Pipe:


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes are one of the most commonly used pipes in recently built homes. PVC pipes are typically used for wastewater drains and vent lines in homes, and can also be used for water and sewerage lines. PVC pipes are typically white in colour.


PVC pipes rose in popularity due to their numerous advantages. PVC pipes are lightweight and easy to work with, are an inexpensive pipe option, and are durable. They are also rust and corrosion resistant and have smooth internal surfaces which reduce the chances of blockages.


There are some downsides to PVC pipes. If exposed to high temperatures, the PVC pipes can become brittle and lose their strength and durability. PVC pipes are also generally glued together at the joints, which over time can lead to leaks.




2) PEX Pipe:


Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipes are a newcomer to the plumbing pipe market. PEX pipes are generally used specifically for water supply lines in homes. PEX pipes will be coloured red when used for hot water and coloured blue when used for cold water, so it is easy to identify the function of these pipes.


PEX pipes are an advantageous choice for your household water supply pipes. PEX pipes are rigid, allowing for them to be strong enough to handle the pressure from the water supply. While rigid and strong, they also have enough manoeuvrability to allow plumbers to position them in difficult locations in a home, such as in the walls or ceiling. If a problem does occur with your PEX pipes, they are also fairly easy to repair.


There is a potential downside to PEX pipes. PEX pipes may leach BPA into your water supply, making this a problem for your drinking water. This disadvantage is dependent on the type of PEX plumbing pipe you select, so make sure to enquire about the BPA-free options.




3) ABS Pipe:


Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) pipes are made from a thermoplastic resin and are one of the earliest types of plastic pipes to be used in homes. They are generally used for wastewater drains and vent lines. ABS pipes are obvious due to their black colouring and softer texture compared to PVC and PEX pipes.


Despite their softer consistency, they are stronger and more durable than PVC pipes. ABS pipes are especially resistant to any damage from extremely cold water temperatures. ABS pipes are easy to install and are a fairly inexpensive plumbing pipe option for your home.


ABS pipes will become damaged if exposed to direct sunlight, meaning that you cannot use these pipes for any external plumbing needs. Homeowners also find that ABS pipes are noisy, resulting in a constant disturbance in your home. ABS pipes are also highly flammable, so should a fire occur in your home, the results could be catastrophic.


4) Galvanised Steel Pipe:


If you live in an older home, you may encounter galvanised steel plumbing pipes. Galvanised steel pipes were typically used for waste water drains, vent lines, water supply lines, and sewerage lines. Galvanised steel pipes are easily identified by their shiny silver surface.


There are some advantages to galvanised steel pipes. Galvanised steel pipes are strong pipe options and can be used for external plumbing. Galvanised steel pipes do corrode, but they have an estimated lifespan of 25 to 50 years before the corrosion occurs, depending on use and climate conditions. They also do not require any regular maintenance.




You will not commonly find galvanised steel pipes being installed in newly built homes due to the disadvantages. Galvanised steel pipes are an expensive plumbing pipe option and due to their difficulty to install, will have a higher installation cost. As the galvanised steel pipes corrode over time, they will leach minerals into the water supply resulting in discolouration and contamination. The minerals can also cause blockages.


5) Cast Iron Pipe:


Also found in older homes are cast iron pipes. Cast iron pipes are made from rigid iron and are also used for waste water drains, vent lines, and water supply lines. You can identify a cast iron pipe by the dark grey colouring.


Cast iron pipes are extremely durable and strong, allowing them to easily handle high water pressure. Compared to plastic plumbing pipes, they are safer due to not being flammable. They also have excellent soundproofing, ensuring no one is disturbed when water is being used in the home.


Cast iron pipes are less frequently used due to their disadvantages. Like galvanised steel pipes, cast iron pipes are prone to rust and corrosion. This will then contaminate the water supply to your home and also potentially lead to blockages.


6) Rigid and Flexible Copper Pipe:


There are two types of copper pipes: rigid copper pipes and flexible copper pipes. Rigid copper pipes are used for water supply lines in a home. Flexible copper pipes have higher manoeuvrability and are generally used for supplying water to heaters, sinks, or refrigerators in homes. Copper pipes are easily identifiable due to their polished red-brown colouring.


Copper pipes are advantageous due to their strength and ability to not contaminate the water supply with leached minerals. Copper pipes can handle high temperatures, making them an excellent pipe option for hot water supply. Copper is rust-resistant, making it a highly durable metal plumbing piping choice.


The downside to copper pipes is that copper is extremely expensive, making this a high-budget plumbing item to install in your home. The expense of the copper pipes is usually combated by only using the copper pipes in small portions where necessary and joining another type of pipe to the copper pipe. The flexible copper pipes have lower durability compared to the rigid copper pipes.




Plumbing Pipe Problems:


While some pipes are prone to more problems than others, there is always the risk that a plumbing pipe problem can occur in your home. Whether it is due to pipe damages, pipe deterioration, or poor practices regarding the drains in your bathroom or kitchen, at any point you can be facing the challenge of a piping problem. We have listed the four main problems that can occur with your home’s plumbing pipes.


Leaking Pipes: Pipes can leak due to corrosion of the metal, broken seals, blockages that increase the water pressure, and damage to the pipe joints.


Burst Pipe: Burst pipes are typically caused by a pipe freezing and breaking in extremely low temperatures, if a huge blockage forces the water pressure to break the pipe, or if there has been damage to the pipe.


Blocked Pipes: There are many ways that your home plumbing pipes can become blocked. Hair, food waste, cleaning products, and foreign items washed down your drains can all build up in the waste water drain pipes and lead to a blockage.


Discoloured or Contaminated Water: Discoloured water is typically a problem in metal pipes that have been corroded and the minerals are leaching into the water. Plastic pipes can also result in contaminated water due to the chemicals in certain plastic pipes.


Plumbing Ways Emergency Plumber for Plumbing Pipe Problems:


You do not need to face a plumbing pipe problem on your own. Plumbing Ways is your emergency plumber who is available 24/7 to assist you with any plumbing problems on your property. When water is leaking from the ceiling or your kitchen water is a murky brown colour, you can easily contact us as your efficient emergency plumber.


Plumbing Ways emergency plumber team is highly experienced with plumbing pipe-related problems. From detecting leaks in your home to burst pipes to blocked drains, as an emergency plumber we have dealt with every type of pipe problem. If you are looking for an expert emergency plumber in your time of need, Plumbing Ways is the emergency plumber for you.


We understand that a plumbing pipe problem can be stressful, which is why the emergency plumber who arrives at your home will be readily equipped to handle the pipe issue. As one of the best emergency plumber companies in Cape Town, we ensure every emergency plumber is equipped with the latest and highest quality tools in the industry. Our professional emergency plumber will leave once the plumbing problem has been solved and a smile has been put on your face from our friendly service.


Leaking pipes or a burst pipe can cause major water damage and drastically increase your monthly water bill, all of which will be a huge impact on your monthly budget. As your emergency plumber, we offer affordable and competitive rates for all our emergency plumber services. No matter the time or day, we charge the same rate so that an exorbitant emergency plumber service fee is not something you need to worry about.


Our plumbing services extend beyond emergency plumber for plumbing pipe problems. If you have recently purchased an older home and are looking to immediately replace any outdated plumbing, we are ready to assist. We offer complete plumbing remodels to ensure that the best types of pipes are installed in your home for total peace of mind and functionality.


About Plumbing Ways:


Plumbing Ways is a Cape Town-based emergency plumber company. In addition to our emergency plumber, we offer an extensive range of plumbing services. These services include industrial, domestic, and commercial plumbing as well as gas, electric, and solar geysers installation and maintenance. If you are based in Cape Town city centre, the Northern Suburbs, Southern Suburbs, Atlantic Seaboard, Winelands, or Cape Peninsula, we are readily available to provide you with our expert plumbing services.


Plumbing Ways is the emergency plumber you can count on when you face a plumbing pipe problem.