When it comes to plumbing, piping is a critical component, and many different types are used in both commercial and domestic settings. To learn about the differences between PEX, ABS, PVC and copper, what these materials are most commonly used for and how they’re beneficial, read on.
PEX is an acronym for Cross-Linked Polyethylene. Pipe made from PEX is often used for hydronic radiant floor heating, hot and cold potable water distribution systems, residential fire-sprinkler systems and service lines. Less expensive than copper, it is also faster to install and resistant to corrosion. PEX is durable, heat resistant, flexible and very broadly used.
Pipes made of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a type of thermoplastic resin, are often used for drainage and venting systems. Tough and inexpensive, these pipes are BPA-free and resistant to abrasion. ABS is easier to install than PVC, does not rot, rust or corrode, is lightweight and features a smooth interior flow.
The most commonly used material for plastic pipe, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is eco-friendly, economical, easy to install and resistant to corrosion. Made for a wide range of applications, it’s used for sewers, irrigation, water service lines, conduits and more. Suitable for both above and below ground in buildings, it is also resistant to a number of chemicals, including acids, oxidants and salts.
A more expensive option, pipe made of copper is known for its longevity. Impermeable - which means that it cannot be penetrated by contaminants - it is environmentally friendly and requires little maintenance. Used, for example, for hot and cold tap water and as HVAC refrigerant lines, it is corrosion resistant and available in both rigid lengths and flexible coils.
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