There are a wide variety of pipes that you might run into in your home. Plastic, metal, black, white, red, blue…the list goes on. You know some of them carry water to your home, and some carry it away. But which pipes are which? The Drip Doctor is here to help you determine at which one you are looking!
Water Service and Distribution Pipes
These are the pipes that bring water into your home from the city water supply or well. These pipes carry water throughout your home and run it to fixtures like your washing machine, water heater, toilets, and faucets. Water pipes are generally found only in a few materials today. Copper and cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) are the most popular. Both copper and PEX are easy to spot among the pipes in your home. Copper piping is metal that can carry both hot and cold water, and it may be difficult to tell which is which. PEX piping is flexible plastic tubing that gives a visual indication of whether it carries hot water (red) or cold water (blue).
Less common, but still used for some applications are PVC and CPVC. These plastics, commonly found in drainage and venting systems, are also rated for water service and distribution. PVC is only for cold water use, but CPVC allows for both hot and cold water use. This piping is generally white or cream-colored and will have the sizing and other information printed on the outside.
Drainage, Waste and Venting Pipes
DWV pipes are more varied than water distribution pipes. Cast iron and galvanized steel are most commonly found in homes built before the 1970s. Both are durable but heavy and difficult to repair. The usual choice for homes built since the 1970s has been plastic.
Black ABS piping was the first to be used for residential plumbing and can still be used, though some areas no longer allow it. PVC has more recently taken over as the drainage pipe of choice. It is durable, easy to work with, and resistant to chemicals. If you have a newer home, it is likely to have PVC for the drainage system.
There is a third type of piping in most houses in this area, and that is gas piping! It is important to know which pipes in your home are carrying natural gas or propane. In the past, the most common type of piping for gas was black steel. This piping is still frequently found in many homes.
However, in the last decade or so, there has been a push toward corrugated stainless-steel tubing (CSST) due to its flexibility and quick installation. While black steel piping looks just as it sounds, CSST can have different appearances. Some come in bright yellow, while others are black, or metallic.
Once you’ve determined which pipes are which in your home, we recommend tagging them for easy identification. Using a label maker, or a roll of masking tape and a marker, make a quick note on whether the pipe is water, DWV, or gas. In the case of a leak or other problem, you’ll have that information quickly to relay to your trusted professional.
If you aren’t certain or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the PROs at PRO Plumbing Service and we can come out to help you identify your specific plumbing.