Pipes used in Plumbing

Plumbing involves the use of different types of pipes. For many people this can lead to a lot of confusion when buying materials. Some pipes are suitable for water while others are not thus the need to know which pipe is used where.


Since ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) pipe is relatively inexpensive and readily available it is often the most common choice for drain lines and vent lines throughout a house. This type of pipe can be installed above or below ground and indoors or outdoors. One thing to watch out for is that it may not hold up well under sun exposure if it is installed out of doors unless the pipe has pigments to protect against UV radiation (check local building code for outdoor installation guidelines). ABS pipe is cut and glued like PVC pipe but the glue must say that it is specifically for ABS pipe because it is a different material that PVC. PVC glue will not hold ABS pipe.

Black Iron Pipe

For decades black iron pipe has been the standard for gas pipe and fittings. This is mostly the default pipe type for running a gas line in above ground installations. Gas pipe needs to be cut, reamed, and threaded for installation. Black iron pipe is inexpensive compared to other types of gas pipe but is sometimes costly in labor because of the time it takes to cut, thread, and install.

Sourced from: http://plumbing.about.com/od/basics/tp/List-Of-Pipes-Used-For-Plumbing.htm

The many types of pipes are simply divided into two. There are metal pipes and plastic pipes. Each category has other types of pipes under it that are suited for a specific function.

Metal pipes

Copper: This type of pipe has been used since the early 1960s and is very reliable but expensive. Copper pipes are highly resistant to corrosion, tolerant of heat, and not prone to leaks, since the connections are soldered and fittings stay tight. Copper pipe comes in three sizes: M (very thin walls), L (medium thickness), and K (thickest walls). Types M and L are usually used for interior hot and cold supply lines, while Type K serves for underground service lines. Copper pipe’s biggest drawback is high price, which is why copper is gradually being replaced by more economical plastic pipe types. See also: Is Copper Pipe the Best?

Plastic pipes

Grey Plastic Polybutylene (PB): Gray or beige, usually sold in coils, this type of flexible pipe was used extensively from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s as an inexpensive replacement for copper. Over the years, however, PB has proven to be prone to leaks, which is why it’s not used much anymore.

Sourced from: http://enlightenme.com/types-of-plumbing-pipes/

All plumbing pipes must meet a specific standard. This is to ensure that the materials used are safe. The process of meeting these standards is referred to as certification.

The durability of a plumbing system is dependent on the quality of its component parts and the assembly skills of those who install it. No plumbing system, however well designed, can be expected to operate safely or hygienically if the products or materials used are unsatisfactory. The inverse is also true – if the best-quality products or materials are used but are installed incorrectly, the system will be a failure.

The process of certification of quality of plumbing products may necessitate the setting up of testing establishments where products can be assessed. In many cases it will be more economical to simply adopt an existing qualified standards and certification programme that already has international acceptance. This will also avoid unnecessary proliferation of standards. Product certifiers and their testing facilities must be of the highest standard and subject to external auditing. The application of suitable materials and products must be supported by adequate levels of training of plumbers who use them so that they can identify and use only appropriate products.

Sourced from: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygiene/plumbing10.pdf