There’s a variety of pipe materials available that can be used in homes. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, so by knowing more about the different types, you’ll be better able to choose the best pipe material for your home. Read on to find out more about these materials.

Older Materials

Older homes may have cast-iron or galvanized steel pipes.

Galvanized steel is safe for carrying water. However, it eventually corrodes and starts leaking. Its short service life and corrosion often force homeowners to replace the whole plumbing system. Nowadays, galvanized steel pipes are mostly used to supply gas.

Cast-iron pipes were popularly used in drain lines in houses constructed before 1960. Cast iron is costly but rigid and extremely durable. However, it also tends to rust completely over time. During plumbing retrofits, rigid plastic pipes are usually used to replace cast-iron pipes.


PEX, or cross-linked polyethylene, is a flexible plastic commonly used for cold- and hot-water supply lines. It’s rigid enough to withstand water pressure but extremely flexible so it can be snaked through small spaces and walls. PEX has to be well supported, and its pipe fittings must be installed correctly.


PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is white plastic pipe material that’s commonly used for drainage pipes, main supply lines, and pools. It’s inexpensive and fairly durable. Hot water can break down the material, so PVC pipes are only used to carry cold water.


Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) pipe is a black plastic pipe similar to PVC but slightly softer. It’s mainly used as a drain and vent line. While ABS is fairly durable, exposure to the sun can degrade it.


Copper is a popular material for cold- and hot-water pipes because of its heat resistance, resistance to corrosion, its durability, and the lack of health risks like other materials that can leak chemicals. Copper pipes cost more than plastic pipes.

Pipe materials like PEX and ABS aren’t permitted everywhere, so you’ll need to check the local codes. Speaking with a local plumbing expert will help you make the most informed decision for your home. Contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for assistance with all your plumbing issues in the Indianapolis area.