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What Are the Different Types of Pipe?

To someone who has never worked with plumbing, all pipes may look pretty much the same. But in fact, there are many different types of pipe and also types of pipe fittings that serve a variety of purposes. Choosing the right type of pipe is essential in successfully completing a home renovation project that involves water or gas.

Here is some information about the various types of pipe and pipe fittings that you may need for a future plumbing project.

PVC Pipe

PVC pipe, or polyvinyl chloride pipe, is a plastic type of pipe that is very useful for running cold water for purposes like irrigation systems. It is easier to maneuver than galvanized steel pipe and easier to install too. It is also affordable and flexible, but it can shatter and leak over time. Meanwhile, CPVC pipe can be used for both cold and hot water applications.

PEX Pipe

PEX pipes can be used in place of copper pipes and used for both cold and hot water. DIY kitchen and bathroom remodelers often use this type of pipe because it is flexible, lightweight, and easy to maneuver. This is a newer type of pipe made from cross-linked polyethylene. However, it can be more expensive than plastic or copper piping. You can attach this piping with push-fit plumbing fittings and join it with copper wire. Since this type of pipe is still new, it’s long-term capabilities have yet to be thoroughly tested.

Copper Pipe

Copper pipes are very common for hot and cold water applications in residential homes. They are durable and lightweight, and they come in varying levels of thickness. Copper pipes are corrosion-resistant and built to last a long time. Many water supply line types rely upon copper pipes that can be either flexible or rigid. Rigid copper pipes are known for their ability to withstand high pressure and handle heat well. Meanwhile, flexible copper pipes have a high heat tolerance and are more expensive. Rigid copper pipes can be used in outdoor drains, while flexible ones are common in dishwashers and ice makers.

Black Pipe

Black pipes are commonly used to move propane and natural gas from a tank or street source into a home. They are strong, durable, and heat-resistant, which also makes them an ideal pipe for fire sprinklers. Iron oxide is formed during the manufacturing process of black pipes, giving them their dark surface color.

Cast Iron Pipe

Another of the types of pipe is the cast iron pipe, which was mostly used before the 1960s. This type of pipe is durable but can rust. It was once commonly used for vent stacks and vertical drains, especially for sewage purposes. It is heavy and can be difficult to cut

Concrete Pipe

Pipes can also be made out of concrete to supply water. Reinforced and unreinforced versions of concrete pipes exist, depending on whether their purpose is small to just handle rainwater or large to provide for major water supply needs.

Galvanized Steel Pipe

Various water supply line types make use of galvanized pipe because they are corrosion-resistant. These pipes are often found in older homes but not necessarily in newer ones. Irrigation and well pumps are common applications for galvanized pipes. They are also still used today as gas supply pipes.

Polyethylene Pipe

Polyethylene is resistant to environmental conditions and ideal for underground, outdoor use. This is why you’ll see polyethylene pipes used for underground water drainage and irrigation. Compared to PVC pipes, polyethylene pipes are more flexible and join together in a different way.

ABS Pipe

ABS pipes are resistant to high temperatures and commonly used for drainage, waste, and ventilation purposes. This is another type of plastic pipe but one that is stronger than a PVC pipe. It generally works well when temperatures are cold but may warp at extreme temperatures. Try using ABS pipe for underground use in the outdoors.

Types of Pipe Fittings

Not only are there many different types of pipe, but there are also lots of pipe fitting options to choose from to make your chosen pipe work in the way you want it to. Pipe fittings are made with both metal and plastic, just like the actual pipes. It is common to use a fitting of the same material as the pipe you’re using, but there are some exceptions to this rule.

Basic Pipe Fittings

For example, cross fittings are four-way fittings and used for sprinklers and irrigation. Elbow fittings are used to change the direction of flow of water or gas moving through the pipe and are available with 90, 60, 43, and 22.5-degree angles. You can also use tee fittings, which have one inlet and two outlets to make a "T" shape, or wye fittings that make more of a 45-degree angle to form a "Y" shape.

Plumbing Pipe Fittings

For kitchen sinks and bathroom sinks, you will want to use a trap fitting to accommodate the necessary bends and dips for water flow. These types of fittings have a "U" or "sideways P" shape and help to prevent clogs from debris and also gases rising up through the plumbing system. Another common type of plumbing pipe fitting is the flange, which uses clamps or bolts to create a seal. This is a common fitting for connecting a drain pipe to a toilet drain.

Connector Pipe Fittings

Fittings are useful to connect different types of pipe. Another style of pipe fitting is the coupler, which reduces flow through the pipe through the pairing of a larger pipe to a smaller one. Adapters are also used to connect two different pipes. Bushings are used to connect pipes of different diameters, while union fittings use a fitting with a threaded ring to tighten the connection between pipes.

End Pipe Fittings

It is also sometimes necessary to place a fitting at the end of a pipe to cut off the flow. Plug fittings are used at the end of a pipe by squeezing into the opening of the pipe. These are commonly used for sewer systems. You can also use a cap fitting, which fits around the end of a pipe rather than squeezing into it. These are common for both temporary and permanent use when you need to terminate flow. Another option is to use a nipple fitting with two rounded ends that fit inside two hollow ends of pipe and provide a connection without allowing flow in between them.

Help with Your Next Plumbing Project with Pipes

Central Plumbing Supplies carries pipes, pipe fittings, and everything else you need to make plumbing and heating repairs. We’ve been in the plumbing and heating business since 1963 and know better than anyone what it takes to create a secure pipe line with the right kind of pipe fittings. We offer convenient locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Rockland, and Yonkers, and we deliver throughout the Tri-State Area.

Stop by one of our New York locations today to get started on your next project!

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