Due to the limited life and cost associated with replacing failing galvanized steel pipes in residential construction, building codes in many locations also limit the use of stainless steel pipes. It is not used in residential water systems, but is allowed for drainage. Of course, residential piping doesn’t need to meet the same requirements ares industrial or commercial stainless process piping. But, some builders are pushing for removing restrictions due to the extended life and low-corrosion properties of stainless steel.
Types of Residential Pipes and Problems
The two most common types of piping for residential water systems are copper and PVC. Both are readily available and easy to replace. Copper is also durable, relatively leak-proof and long-lasting. Many copper pipes installed in the 60s are still in use today. However, the older copper pipes may also contain lead solder; other than that, there’s a low risk of water contamination. But, copper can also be expensive to use for the whole construction and becomes discolored with age. It’s relegated to use for hot and cold access in laundry rooms, kitchens and baths.
PVC is the most common material for residential pipes in a range of applications. It doesn’t rust or erode like metal pipes, and it’s really inexpensive. It’s also easy to work with and cut, so it’s a favorite of DIYers. The only real issue is a problem with temperature. It can warp if extremely hot water runs through it or split if it freezes. It can’t be recycled, either.
Stainless steel doesn’t have any of the drawbacks of other metal or plastic pipes, and it’s an attractive option for exposed pipes in bathrooms of kitchens. It’s the most expensive option, so consider whether it’s worth the investment. Stainless steel is highly flexible, but may need couplings to connect with other pipes.
PEX is flexible plastic tube-like piping that is becoming very popular for flexibility, strength and price. However, it’s not recommended for outdoor use because it can be damaged by UV rays.
When choosing pipes for a residential construction, consider building codes, budget and use.