Pros & Cons of Different Plumbing Materials


When it comes to plumbing systems there are many different commonly used materials. Each material has advantages and disadvantages. Over time different materials have become more or less commonly used in the construction and reparation of plumbing systems. Whether you are building a new system or replacing an old system it is important to understand the unique benefits and drawbacks of each material.


Copper Piping

Copper piping is one of the most commonly used piping materials in plumbing systems across the country. They are durable, reliable, and are very common in homes, apartment buildings, and small businesses. A copper pipe is rated to handle water pressure up to 1000 psi, and can withstand both hot and cold temperatures. On average they are predicted to last 50-70 years assuming they were properly installed. That being said they do have some drawbacks. Copper pipes need to be soldered by an expert with experience working with copper, and copper is weak against highly acidic liquid. This makes copper pipes not ideal for advanced technology and life science facilities that need to dispose of acidic compounds.


PEX Piping (Polyethylene)

PEX piping is made from plastic. Specifically, PEX utilizes polyethylene. One of the major draws for this material is that it is inexpensive and flexible. PEX piping is also heat resistant and generally durable. PEX also has environmental benefits as there is reduced heat transfer for liquids passed through PEX piping. Because water is less likely to warm up or cool down, less energy is needed to change the temperature of the water. Although the material is less expensive, PEX installation costs tend to be higher than other piping materials. PEX is an ideal choice for a small home or a small business.


PVC Piping

Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is a pipe that has long-lasting durability. PVC piping can operate effectively for over 100 years making it much more effective for long-term application than copper piping. It is also a cost-effective solution that has become common in America and Europe over the years. PVC is not the most resistant material and may require more maintenance, but maintenance is also cost effective.


Galvanized & Lead Piping

Galvanized pipes use steel that has been dipped into molten zinc, whereas lead pipes utilize lead. Both metals were once popular choices for plumbing systems however both have fallen out of common use in the last few decades. Lead piping contributes to lead poisoning risks, and galvanized piping can spill rust and corrosion buildup into water. These pipes are not ideal for any potable or drinkable water sources. They should only be used to manage wastewater. And even then, because of their lack of resistance to corrosion, they are not an ideal fit.


Piping Installation Services in the North Shore

NSMC provides piping replacement, maintenance, and installation services for businesses and industrial facilities in Massachusetts. Learn more and schedule a meeting with our team via our contact page.