If you’re a homeowner in Auckland, you may be curious about your plumbing system. What are the different types of pipes? What do they do? How can I tell if there’s a problem with my pipes?
There are many different types of pipes in a home, and understanding them can help you have a better idea of how your system works and more importantly if you need to replace any old pipes that may cause damage to your home.
This blog post will answer all of those questions and more! So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about plumbing pipes:
- What Are Plumbing Pipes?
- What Are the Main Types of Plumbing Pipes Used in Homes?
- What Are the Main Pipe Materials Used in Homes?
- What Are Other Types of Plumbing Pipes
- High-density polybutylene (HDPE) Pipe
- How Do I Know Which Plumbing Pipes Are in My Home?
- Which Plumbing Pipes Should Be Insulated?
- When Should I Replace My Plumbing Pipes?
- What are the costs of replacing plumbing pipes?
- Why Do Plumbing Pipes Make Noises?
To understand your plumbing system, you first have to understand what plumbing pipes are and their role in a plumbing system.
So, what are plumbing pipes? They are hollow tubes that transfer water from one place to another. They can be made from various materials, including copper, steel, and plastic. In your home, you’ll find either rigid or flexible pipes.
In a residential plumbing environment, plumbing pipes are used to connect appliances, fixtures and drains to other pipes, valves or the main sewer line.
Their main functions are to control water flow and safely direct it from one destination to another.
There are many different types of plumbing pipes you will find in your home, each with a specific function
Let’s look at six main types:
- Waste & Vent Pipe
- Supply Pipe
- Hot Water Pipe
- Cold Water Pipe
- Gas Pipe
The drain pipe is responsible for transporting away any unwanted liquid in your home. The most common types of drain pipes are PVC and cast iron, both of which are fairly durable and long-lasting if properly installed. They can last up to 100 years with the proper care!
A waste & vent pipe is responsible for removing any unwanted solid material in your home. You will find this type of pipe in all main bathroom fixtures, such as toilets and sinks. Depending on how many bathrooms you have, you could potentially have several feet of this pipe running throughout your home!
The supply line is responsible for distributing water from a source to various places in your home, such as sinks and showers. This kind of pipe is usually made of copper, which can be either rigid or flexible.
The hot water pipe carries the hot water from the heater to its corresponding fixtures in your home. The most common types are metal and plastic, both of which are very durable.
The cold water pipe is responsible for carrying the cold water throughout your home’s plumbing system. Like hot water pipes, they can be made from metal or plastic.
As you might have guessed, this type of pipe carries natural gas throughout your home in order to fuelappliances such as your stove, oven and dryer. In a residential setting, gas pipes are usually made from copper.
As you can see from the types of plumbing pipes used in homes, the material used for each type differs also.
So let’s look at the primary plumbing pipe materials used today:
- PEX Pipe
- PVC Pipe
- Copper Pipe
- ABS Pipe
PEX is short for Cross-Linked Polyethylene and is a type of plastic piping commonly used in residential plumbing systems as an alternative to PVC, copper and CPVC pipes. It is flexible, durable, and can be easily installed.
PEX pipe is popular because it is less expensive than other types of piping, and it can easily be adapted to the needs of a specific plumbing system.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is the most commonly used pipe in home plumbing systems. It is relatively inexpensive and can be easily cut to fit your needs. However, it is not very durable compared to other types of piping.
Also, when exposed to extreme temperatures (either hot or cold), PVC pipes can crack and break down over time.
Copper is by far the preferred material for home plumbing systems. It is durable, long-lasting and easy to work with when it comes to installation. Also, due to its anti-bacterial properties, copper piping is great in terms of hygiene.
The downside to using copper pipes is that they can be fairly expensive and difficult to work with. Copper pipe is most commonly used for supply line and gas work.
ABS piping is made from a thermoplastic resin called Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene. Due to its flexibility and durability, ABS pipes are commonly used for drain pipes. It is also easy to work with, but can be more expensive than other types of plumbing pipe materials.
Along with the four materials mentioned above, other types of plumbing pipes may be used in residential plumbing and are common in older homes.
Below, we will briefly go over some of these other types:
Cast iron pipe is a heavy-duty piping material that can be either rigid or flexible, depending on the needs of your home. Most cast iron pipes are made from galvanised steel with an enamel coating. If properly installed by a professional plumber, this type of pipe is very durable. However, it can rust or corrode if not installed properly, causing severe problems in your home plumbing system.
Galvanised steel pipe is a relatively inexpensive and durable material that’s used for gas lines. It offers an anti-corrosive resistance. Therefore, there’s no risk of rust or corrosion. However, galvanised steel pipe does have one drawback: due to its thickness, it can be challenging to install, which can cause problems with your plumbing system.
Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials currently on the market. It’s also very easy to clean and won’t corrode or rust. However, it can be difficult to install, and it tends to be expensive.
PB pipe is the most common water supply pipe in New Zealand but has been banned in the USA due to its numerous leakage problems. It was discovered that oxidation and chlorine exposure in the water supply caused the pipes to bulge and crack over time, resulting in severe flood damage throughout the residence, frequently without notice. Hence, the manufacturing of PB pipe was stopped after 1995.
HDPE pipe is a type of plastic that’s often used for drain pipes. It’s not as durable as other types of piping, but it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to install. If you have this type of plumbing system at home, the cost of repair will likely outweigh the benefits if something goes wrong.
Generally, the older your home is, the more likely it is that you have one of the plumbing pipes we described above. Cast iron, galvanised pipe etc, are not widely used in newer homes because of their durability issues.
Most newer home plumbing systems consist of copper pipes, ABS or PVC piping. This is especially true if your house was built during the last ten to twenty years.
However, if you’re not sure what kind of piping system your home has, there are a few quick and easy ways to find out:
- Look at the pipe coming out from under your sink. If it’s copper, you might have more copper piping in your home.
- Look at the pipe coming out from your hot water heater. If it’s galvanised steel, you probably have a galvanised steel gas line as well.
- Use a magnet to check if your piping is metal (such as cast iron or galvanised steel). If a magnet sticks to your pipe, it’s most likely metal.
Contact an Auckland plumber if you don’t have any information on the type of piping in your home and are unsure what to do. They can inspect your plumbing system and recommend the best solution for your needs.
Also, if you have any questions about what type of pipe is in your home, it’s best to consult skilled Auckland plumbers such as iSpecailise. We can inspect your pipes to identify what materials are used and check for any damage, cracks, or wear in the process. For example, if your home has PB pipes, then it’s better to know sooner than later. Catching an issue in its infancy may prevent a bigger problem down the track.
Generally, you should insulate all your copper pipes. If you run these through the inside of your home (such as under a sink or behind a toilet), they need to be insulated to prevent condensation and potential damage to the surrounding areas.
Copper piping that’s not under any heat source (i.e., behind a wall or inside a bathroom) does not need to be insulated. However, it’s a good idea to insulate hot water pipes that are inside the wall of your home. This will prevent heat loss over time and help you save money on your monthly energy bills.
If you have PB piping in your home, it needs to be wrapped with insulation at least once every ten feet. Keep in mind that PB is a plastic material and it may melt if it comes in contact with any heat sources such as your water heater or hot water pipes.
If you have cast iron or galvanised steel piping in your home, it will likely last for decades without any problems. But if you have any other type of piping material, it may not last nearly as long. There are several factors that can cause your pipes to deteriorate quickly:
- Extreme temperatures (i.e., too hot or too cold)
- Water pressure above 80 pounds per square inch
- Chemicals in the water that corrodes metal overtime
If one or more of these factors apply to your home, consider getting all your piping replaced as soon as possible. Replacing all the piping in your home at once will reduce your costs and save you from paying multiple repair bills over time.
In addition to looking for physical signs that a pipe is going bad, it’s important to keep an eye on your energy bills. If you notice that your energy bills are much higher than usual, it may be time to get your pipes inspected.
If you’re unsure of what to do or which Auckland plumbers to call, consult a skilled plumbing company like iSpecailise. We can inspect the integrity of your pipes and recommend the best replacement system for your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Some repairs can cost a few hundred dollars, while others might run into the thousands.
Most costly repairs are due to severe, advanced issues that need immediate fixing before they turn into bigger problems down the line. For example, if your home has corroded galvanised steel piping or cast iron, it’s best to replace them at once or there may be flooding in the future.
Generally speaking, most Auckland homeowners spend between $20 and $30 per linear foot for plumbing materials such as copper, PEX, and PB. So, for example, if you need to replace the plumbing in your kitchen and have 100 feet of piping throughout the distribution system (faucet, dishwasher, sink drain), that should cost somewhere around $2,000.
When it comes to changing out old or corroded galvanised steel (such as water heater components), then the cost will depend on what needs replacing and whether or not any existing issues need to be addressed. Commonly, it costs between $4,000 and $6,000 to replace galvanised steel water lines with copper piping.
There are many factors that affect how much your plumbing replacement cost will be. However, there are some clear benefits of replacing your old piping system.
Plumbing pipes making noises can be a clear sign that your pipes need some repairs or replacements. there are various reasons why plumbing pipes make noise including:
- Water pressure changes within the system: Most systems are pressurised, so when you turn on the faucet more piping is pressurising the water. As the water moves through the piping system it will create some noise as it goes along its way. However, if there is an increase in the sound, then this could be a sign that your pipes are clogged and releasing water along with the running water.
- Leaking within the system: Water also creates noise as it moves through the piping system. This is especially common in older homes where copper or galvanised steel piping may be corroding or rusting. When you hear clicking or popping sounds, this can be a clear sign that your piping system needs some work.
If you want to get the most accurate diagnosis of what is causing plumbing pipe noise, it’s best to call an Auckland plumber (such as iSpecailise) for inspection and repair.
Your home’s plumbing is a crucial component that needs to inspecting and replacing if necessary. If you’re unsure what’s wrong with the pipes in your house, contact an Auckland plumber like iSpecailise for inspection and repair.
No matter how big or small the issue might seem, it will only get worse over time – so don’t wait until it becomes too late! Let us help make sure all parts of your system are working as they should and give you peace of mind at long last.
Contact us today for more information about everything related to plumbing: we’ll happily answer any questions that may come up along the way.