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What are the different types of plumbing pipes?

To most of us, a pipe is just a pipe. But to the certified plumbers at Plomberie Roger Chayer, who have been performing plumbing installations, maintenance and repairs for nearly 70 years, every pipe has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, depending on the material it is made from.

Even if you aren’t a plumber, knowing the different types of plumbing pipes can prove to be very useful if you’re contemplating renovations or maintenance work. If you’re unsure about something, your plumber can guide you in choosing the right material, taking its cost, flexibility, use and durability into consideration.

Welded pipes

COPPER

Highly popular, copper has replaced lead ever since the latter was prohibited because of its toxicity, and until recently, it was the only material available. Having been used for so long, this metal is tried and true. Used for heating and water distribution, this type of pipe, which is valued for its resistance and efficiency, can be made from hard-drawn copper (non-malleable) or annealed copper (malleable). Some municipalities won’t accept any other type of pipes, and installing them requires the expertise of a plumber, who must cut and weld them.

Non-welded pipes

PVC

You’ll find polyvinyl chloride (PVC) chiefly in drainpipes. The joints are glued rather than welded, making these pipes easier to install. This light polymer, which won’t rust, is available in a chlorinated version, which can be used for hot and cold water supply. These pipes are distinguished by their resistance to heat, pressure and chemicals.

PEX/XLPE

There are several reasons why cross-linked polyethylene (PEX or XLPE) pipes are becoming increasingly popular, particularly their low cost and their simplicity of installation, which requires no welding, just a simple collar. Approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), PEX pipes are primarily used for hot and cold water supply with a different color to distinguish each one. Many prefer this semi-rigid, non-porous material to copper, as it doesn’t have the tendency to become scaled with hard water deposits. However, since people only started using it recently, it’s too soon to tell if it’s superior to copper or not. The pipes can be connected using flexible connectors called “speedways,” which must be replaced approximately every twelve years.

MULTILAYER

For fail-proof water tightness, this type of pipe is composed of three layers. Two of those layers are made of PEX: the innermost layer to prevent hard water deposits and corrosion and to withstand exposure to chlorine, and the outermost layer to protect the pipe from sunlight. The middle layer, made of rigid, airtight aluminum, helps the pipe maintain its structure. Multilayer pipes are generally connected using threaded couplings.

FLEXIBLE PIPES

These pipes, which are versatile but more expensive than PEX or PVC, are equally suitable for drainage or for water supply and are often employed in two specific contexts, namely in complicated cases and in emergencies. They may be composed of several different materials, including vinyl, aluminum and polyester.

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