Plumbing Pipes: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

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Knowing what kind of plumbing pipes were used in the construction of your home (or during any subsequent repairs) can help you anticipate issues, know when and where to check for leaks frequently, and save you thousands in potential water damage if a leak does occur. Finding water damage early is one of the best ways to help keep extensive damage from occurring and lowering insurance claims.

The Good

Copper pipes have been the proven standard of reliability for over 50 years! They are not prone to leaks, are extremely durable, stay fitted tightly, have a long life span and can be recycled, are resistant to heat, and won’t pollute your drinking water. A few cons exist; copper is expensive and can attract thieves if it becomes known your home has copper pipes and you are out of town (a good reason for a high quality home security system and not spreading your vacation plans around.)

Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) pipes are often used for retrofits and new home construction. This kind of pipe is extremely versatile/ it snakes through walls easily and can extend across an entire house. PEX is temperature tolerant, and heat resistant, and can be used for hot and cold water supplies as well as near high temperature fittings. Some environmentalists don’t like PEX, but this type of pipe has passed strict regulatory tests and is approved for usage across the US.

Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride pipes (CPVC) pipes can be used for hot and cold water supplies, are easy to work with, are more flexible than PVC, and even contain extra chlorine to make them safe for drinking water. They will split of the freeze, so must be well insulated, and they are not recyclable.

The Bad

Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes (PVC) pipes won’t rust, corrode, or degrade over time, are excellent for sink, toilet, and bathtub drain lines or vent stacks, can readily handle high water pressure, and are inexpensive and easy to work with. Their biggest drawback is that they can only be used for cold water.

Grey Plastic Polybutylene (PB) pipes have become an expensive replacement for copper, being easy to work with and install; however, these pipes are prone to leaks.

The Ugly

Galvanized Steel pipes had dangerous lead in them, and were zinc coated inside leading to internal rusting. Good news: most homes containing galvanized steel pipes are quite old, and have for the most part been retrofitted. These pipes are not in the construction of today’s modern homes.

Black Iron should never be used for plumbing; black iron is used for carrying gas. Don’t mistake a black iron pipe for a water pipe and start unscrewing it or cutting through it!

Knowing your plumbing pipes can make it easier to spot leaks, and allow you to give your plumber valuable information in case of an issue.


About Olympus Insurance Company

Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, FL and founded in 2007, Olympus Insurance Company specializes in Florida property insurance. Through its independent agency force, Olympus

insures $45 billion worth of residential and investment property including homes, condos, rental property, and valuable personal property. The company also writes flood insurance and umbrella policies.  Coverage for individual risks up to $5 million in total insured value is provided on one of the most comprehensive coverage forms in the industry. For more information, visit olympusinsurance.com.

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