What Are Today's Water Pipes Made out of?

Written by scott cornell
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What Are Today's Water Pipes Made out of?
Today's water pipes are made of materials ranging from plastics to metals. (large plastic pipes image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com)

Malleability, corrosion resistance and durability are all important factors regarding water pipe plumbing. So while the majority of today's water pipes are made from metal materials, many are manufactured with plastics and metal-plastic hybrids. These materials are long lasting and ensure that drinking water doesn't become contaminated when arriving at home faucets.

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Copper

Copper is a material commonly used for piping because its material features include corrosion resistance. Copper is also very easy to work with because its malleable and can be easily joined by fittings or soldering. Three types of copper plumbing are used: Type K, which features thick tubing walls; Type L, which features medium-size tubing walls; and Type M, which offers thin walls. Type M is most commonly used as low-cost piping in office buildings, whereas Type L and K are more commonly used in residences and in connections to water mains.

Lead

Although not as widely used today as copper, lead water pipes still exist in older homes and in service line piping, running water from service mains into homes. However, lead water pipes are becoming less and less common because of potential lead contaminants they may release into drinking water. This occurs when the pipes corrode, seeping lead into the water, and can lead to potential dangers for residents. Lead poisoning can lead to damage of the central nervous system, kidney and liver.

Plastic

A number of different plastics are used in piping. Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), although not as strong as copper, is designed to last for long periods. The material is commonly used in hot and cold potable water distribution systems. Another common plastic is cross-linked polythene (PEX). It's flexible, can be installed with fewer fittings and works well with corrosive water conditions. According to TerryLove.com, PEX is typically used when repiping a home or installing piping into new homes.

Kitec

Kitec is a composite-like material that offers the advantages of both metal and plastic tubing. According to TerryLove.com, the pipe is made of aluminium material and then wrapped in interior and exterior layers of plastic coating. The material is noncorroding and acid resistant. It also provides protection against most salts, alkali and oils. They're most commonly used in hot and cold water systems and water supply systems. The material can also be used in chemical handling and air conditioning systems.

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