Types of Plumbing Pipes Used in Homes

From the first clay pipes used by Ancient Greeks to the modern pipes made of PVC, there have been many advances in plumbing technology. We have come a long way in terms of technology and engineering.

In both older and newer homes in South Louisiana, you’ll find a variety of different types of piping. Some of these pipes are for drainage, while others are for bringing water into the home. It’s important to know the difference between these pipes so that you can properly maintain your home and keep everything running smoothly.

The most common pipes that homeowners will find in their homes are PVC, Copper, PEX, and Galvanized Steel.

What’s the Difference Between PVC, Copper, PEX, and Galvanized Steel?

PVC Pipes

For residential homes, PVC pipes are the preferred choice for most plumbing applications. PVC pipes are available in a variety of diameters and lengths, making it easy to find the right size for your project. Homeowners don’t have to worry about PVC pipes corroding or rusting. However, PVC does not hold up well when water temperatures exceed 140 degrees Fahrenheit. PVC pipes must be used indoors or in well-ventilated areas as UV light can damage the material.

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are durable and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. However, copper pipes are more expensive than PVC pipes. Another downside is that they can be challenging to install, so it’s best to leave this job to a professional.

PEX Pipes

Compared to copper pipes, PEX is a more recent development in the plumbing industry. PEX is made of cross-linked polyethylene, which makes it a more flexible option than PVC or copper pipes. PEX is ideal for areas that may experience movement or shifting, such as in an earthquake-prone area. PEX is also resistant to freezing and bursting.

Galvanized Steel Pipes

These types of pipes were commonly used in homes built before 1960. The main advantage of galvanized steel pipes is that they are less expensive than copper pipes. However, they are more susceptible to corrosion and leaks. Additionally, rust can build up on the inside of the pipe over time, which can lead to decreased water flow. Galvanized steel pipes are only used for drainage and sewer lines and are not safe for drinking water.

PVC vs. Copper vs. PEX vs. Galvanized Steel: Which Is Better For Your Home?

Many people don’t think about the plumbing materials in their homes until there’s a problem. However, knowing the difference between different types of plumbing pipes can help you make informed decisions about repairs and maintenance. Currently, PVC pipes are the preferred choice for drainage material and PEX or copper pipes are used for bringing water into the home.

What if you are thinking about remodeling areas of your home or replacing old pipes? Which one is the better choice?

PVC Pipes

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a type of plastic that is commonly used for drainage pipes. Can be used for indoor and outdoor use. PVC is a good choice for drainage pipes because it is lightweight and easy to install. PVC can be glued together, which makes it easy to create a watertight seal. PVC is available in a variety of different diameters and lengths.


  1. Easier to install than copper pipes
  2. Inexpensive compared to other piping alternatives
  3. Less noise compared to copper pipes
  4. It is thicker than copper pipes, allowing it to resist corrosion and damage better than copper pipes


  1. Not suitable for drinking water
  2. Can become brittle due to chemical exposure
  3. Due to their lightweight, PVC pipes are prone to cracking
  4. Can’t fit into as tight of spaces as copper pipes

PVC pipes are commonly used for toilets, vent pipes, drainage, and sewer lines. As long as your water temperature stays under 140 degrees Fahrenheit, PVC pipes can be an affordable and convenient choice for your home plumbing.


Copper is a popular choice for both hot and cold water pipes. Has been used in plumbing for centuries. There was a time when copper pipes were the only type of pipe that was used for indoor plumbing.


  1. Lasts longer than PVC pipes
  2. Fights into tighter spaces, unlike PVC pipes
  3. More flexible at the joints


  1. More expensive than PVC pipes
  2. Harder to install than PVC pipes
  3. Noisier than PVC pipes

Copper pipes are used for carrying potable water to showers, sinks, and other fixtures in the home. It is a non-reactive metal, which means it won’t corrode.


Commonly used for hot and cold water pipes. Has become a popular option today for new residential construction. PEX pipes are faster to install because there are not as many fittings and connections.


  1. Ideal for areas that may experience shifting or movement
  2. Resistant to freezing and bursting
  3. Suitable for indoor water supply lines


  1. UV light can degrade the material so PEX pipes cannot be exposed outdoors
  2. Can be damaged by chemicals

PEX can be used for water supply lines, radiant heating systems, sprinklers, and more.

Galvanized Steel

These types of pipes are made of steel that has been coated with zinc. Have been replaced with copper or plastic pipes in residential homes.


  1. Less expensive than copper pipes
  2. Suitable for large diameter piping projects


  1. More susceptible to corrosion and leaks
  2. Easier for rust to build up on the inside of the pipe

When invented, galvanized pipes were used for water supply lines. However, they are no longer considered safe for drinking water and are now only used for drainage and sewer lines.

Which One Should You Choose?

All of the above piping has a place in modern plumbing. It is important to know the pros and cons of each type before making a decision. Some factors that might influence your decision include budget, the intended use of the piping, and whether you are installing new plumbing or replacing old plumbing. If you are unsure of which piping to choose, PVC is a good all-around choice that is suitable for most applications.

If you are still unsure and would like to assistance of a professional, our team at Coastal Mechanical Contractors is always here to help. Our experienced and talented team of professionals has extensive knowledge in all types of plumbing and can help you with any repair or replacement needs you may have. An investment in your home is an investment in your future!

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