If your house were a body, your pipes would be its veins. Like your veins, they’re invisible to the eye and absolutely essential for keeping your body going. Your pipes are buried under the earth and inside your walls, pumping in vital water to heat your systems, maintain your sanitation and keep your day to day life running smoothly. It’s easy to take them for granted: Out of sight, out of mind.

At Boydco Plumbing, we believe that knowledge is power. Every homeowner should know about the different kinds of pipes that may be threading their way through their home. Learn more about the veins of your home by reading our primer on the different kinds of metal and plastic piping commonly used in homes.

Related: Does My Home Have Leaky Pipes?

Metal Pipes

Made out of heavy metals, these pipes have been a plumbing staple for decades. Built to adeptly carry hot and cold water, they are often buried underground to supply water outside the house. Over the last few decades, heavy plastic pipes have been gaining in popularity: galvanized metal pipes are now often replaced by them.

One major advantage of metal piping is that they are naturally resistant to corrosion. They are not entirely rust-proof, however. They can be susceptible to rusting around the area where the threaded pipe ends. That’s the part of the pipe where the coating has been removed. It’s the Achilles’ Heel to what is otherwise a very strong, durable form of piping.

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are most widely-used for water supply lines running through the walls of houses. They are highly resistant to corrosion and possess high heat tolerance. They’re equally well-suited to being used to supply hot or cold water. And due to to the soldered fittings used to connect them, they can be very stable. That stability and durability is why copper piping can be pricey.

Stainless Steel Pipes

Stainless steel pipes are highly resistant to corrosion. They’re the perfect pipes to use if you live somewhere where there are a lot of corrosive elements nearby. So if you live by the ocean, for example, stainless steel would be the ideal pipes for your beach house. But like copper piping, they can be a little expensive and are not as readily available as other types of piping.

Plastic Pipes

If you live in a modern home, odds are good your piping is heavy plastic. The standard water pipe used in most homes is PVC, and the most commonly used PVC pipe is the kind called Schedule 40. It’s a thick white pipe that’s fairly sturdy; there’s also a slightly more durable version available called Schedule 80. There’s also a thinner and lighter PVC pipe known as thin wall PVC.

A major benefit to plastic piping is that it is much more affordable than metal pipes. But there is one area where they fall short: versatility. PVC pipes aren’t built to work with hot temperatures. They are very effective when used to supply for cold water but not as reliable when dealing with hot water.

CPVC Pipes

Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride is a more durable version of PVC piping. They go through an extra process of chlorination. This gives them stronger flexibility and while its walls are thinner than standard PVC, CPVC is more heat-resistant. This makes them ideal for hot water supply.

PEX Pipes

These are cross-linked pipes made out of polyethylene plastic. They are flexible and can be used to supply cold and water. PEX is extra resistant to heat, which is why they’re commonly used for water-based floor heating systems. And because it has a similar diameter as CPVC and copper pipes it’s often used as a cheaper replacement for them.

Related: What Homeowners Should Know About Underground Piping

To find out more about pipes or to schedule an appointment, give Boydco Plumbing a call at 602-335-0323.