Plumbing pipes: the good and bad types for your home

Modern Florida homes these days can withstand high winds and live for decades. But this longevity only applies if you also have a proper plumbing system. 

A faulty system can result in leaks and flooding that cause major damage.  

The type of plumbing pipe and materials used in your home play big a role in determining whether or not a system is proper. This is why many home insurance companies will ask about your home’s plumbing in order to assess their risk.  

In order to minimize your risk of water damage and enjoy a lower insurance premium, it’s important to learn what materials are used inside of your home.  

Here are the different types of plumbing systems and how to identify them.  

What are the different types of plumbing pipes?

PEX (standard since the 1990s)

This type of pipe is considered the standard for home plumbing since the late 1990s. Also known as cross-linked polyethylene, PEX has become a contender for use in residential water plumbing because of its flexibility. PEX is not subject to corrosion from minerals or moisture and has a life expectancy of 50 years.  

Copper (1960s - present)

This type of pipe is most common in homes built from the 1960s to today. Copper is known for its durability, heat tolerance and long-life span. They are not prone to leaks and can be recycled. The only drawback is that copper is the costlier option.  

PVC (1950s - present)

Polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC, is found in homes built after the 1950s. Its lightweight, low-cost and low maintenance make it attractive for plumbing. However, it must be carefully installed and bedded to ensure cracking does not occur. It also has a tendency to warp at high temperatures of 140-plus degrees.  

Full or Partial Galvanized

Galvanized or zinc-coated steel pipes were used in the early 20th century to replace cast-iron and lead in cold-water plumbing. However, galvanized pipes rust from the inside out, building up layers of plaque that cause water pressure issues.

Full or Partial Polybutylene (PB)

Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used extensively in plumbing pipes from 1978 until 1995. However, this type of piping began to fail and caused a lot of damage to people’s homes. Failure was later attributed to the interaction between the pipes and chlorine in public water systems, which caused them to weaken.  

The main difference between PB and PEX is in how the material is created.  

Which plumbing types are insurance-friendly?

Today, copper and PEX are considered the best types of pipes for residential plumbing, and your insurance provider will love you for having them. On the other hand, PVC is less favored while Galvanized is considered one of the worst types.  

If your home utilizes an out-of-date plumbing system, it may be time to upgrade in order to lower your risk of water damage and obtain an affordable policy.

How can I learn which type of plumbing is in my home?

You can get a clue about the type of pipes used in your plumbing by looking at the year your home was built. However, it is possible that the pipes have replaced since then. The best way to determine the type is by having a peek at the pipes.  

PEX: These pipes typically come in red and blue colors. These are not metal pipes, and so should appear to be made of hard plastic.  

Copper: When first installed, copper pipes have the color of a shiny penny. Over time, they tend to have a greenish color.  

PVC: This type of pipe looks like hard, white plastic. They typically have markings down the body of the pipe which identify the diameter.  

Galvanized: This type of pipe has a gray or silver color and appears metallic.  

Polybutylene: This pipe typically comes in a gray or off-white plastic.  

To be completely certain, hire a plumber to check your home’s piping. This can also be a good time to assess the condition of the pipes and determine if an upgrade is necessary.  

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