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Plumbing: Types of Pipe

The heart of any plumbing system is pipe. There are three main types of materials pipe can be made from - galvanized steel, copper, or plastic. And it's important that, when making repairs or modifications to an existing system, you use the same type of pipe. Galvanized pipe systems are rarely used in new residential construction. If your home is more than 20 years old, however, chances are very good that the supply lines are made of galvanized pipe.

Copper pipes come in four types - type K, type L, type M, and DWV. Type K has the thickest walls and is most frequently used for underground service lines in the supply system. Type L is used for interior hot and cold water supply lines. Type M is the thinnest of the types and is also used for interior hot and cold water supply lines. DWV pipes are used for the drain-waste system and for the vent system.

Plastic pipes are easy to work with, light-weight, and durable. Because of these reasons, plastic pipe has become the most popular pipe for do-it-yourselfers to use and there are five main types, each designed for specific applications. PVC pipes are white and are approved for cold water use only. PVC - DWV pipes are also white, but are approved for use in drain-waste systems or vent systems. CPVC pipes are beige and are approved for use in hot or cold water service lines. Polyethylene tubes are black and approved for cold water use. And Polybutylene is gray or beige and is usually sold in coiled lengths. Polybutylene is the only flexible pipe approved for hot and cold service lines.

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