Pipes are an important component in building construction. There are various types of pipe materials available in the market. Selection of pipe materials for your house plumbing system can be a tedious task, but not anymore. Gharpedia brings to you a guide for different types of pipe materials, their advantages and disadvantages, and their popular manufacturers. After going through this blog, you will have clarity on this topic, for sure.
Before we dive into the different pipe material types, let’s have a look at the factors to be considered while selecting pipe materials.
Factors to Consider while Selecting Pipe Materials for Water Supply/House Plumbing
The selection of pipe materials for water supply or for house plumbing system depends on the following factors:
- Internal pressure and external loads to which the pipe is subjected.
- Capital cost and maintenance cost.
- Availability of funds.
- Carrying capacity of the pipe.
- Quality of flow to be carried.
- Expected life of the pipe.
- Ease of repair and replacement.
Consider the above-mentioned factors carefully while selecting water pipe materials.
Types of Pipe Materials Commonly used
The different pipe material types used in house plumbing system are as follows:
01. Cast Iron (C.I.) Pipes
Cast iron pipes can rust, but they can be protected using rust prevention products. These pipes are used as rainwater pipes and waste pipes. They are also used for storm drains and sewage in high-rise buildings. One more use of this pipe is for garbage disposal because it is highly resistant to abrasions and grinding that may be caused by the food and other particles passing through it on a daily basis. Cast iron pipes are used in house drainage systems because they don’t produce echoing sounds when water moves through them. The pipes are manufactured in sizes from 17 to 609 mm.
Let’s now focus on the advantages of cast iron pipes and disadvantages of cast iron pipes:
Advantages of Cast Iron Pipes
- Cast iron pipes can be made corrosion resistant by using rust prevention products.
- Joining cast iron pipes is easier.
- Cast iron pipes have high durability. Though they may not last for a century, with proper maintenance, they can last several decades.
- Service connection in cast iron pipes can be easily made.
Disadvantages of Cast Iron Pipes
- These piping materials are heavier and hence uneconomical when their diameter is more than 1.2 meter.
- There are possibilities of breakages during transportation.
We have a detailed article on cast iron pipes, for further information:
Cast Iron Pipes Manufacturers
The following are the popular cast iron manufacturers:
- Jayswal Neco Industries Ltd.
- Jupiter Metal Industries (Jal.)
- Kapilansh Dhatu Udyog (P) Ltd.
02. Steel Pipes
Stainless steel is commonly used in drainage parts or components because it is easily cleanable and sterile, making it an excellent choice for places that demand strict hygienic conditions. Aesthetic appearance, corrosion resistance, ease of fabrication, fire and heat resistance, hygiene, strength-to-weight, and impact resistance are just a few advantages of using stainless steel pipes. They are used in your shower, tap and the rest of the house, especially in exposed pipes because they can withstand the onslaught of external factors such as rain, heat and rust. The nominal diameter of steel pipes ranges from 21.3 to 1200 mm. There are three types of steel pipes available in the market, they are:
- Electrically welded steel pipes
- Seamless pipes
- Spirally welded pipes
Advantages of Steel Pipes
- Steel pipes are easy to work with. They are easy to handle and transport.
- Steel is strong in tension; even large diameter pipes can be made with thin shells.
- It can withstand high internal pressure.
Disadvantages of Steel Pipes
- The life of a steel pipe is generally half that of a cast iron pipe.
Steel Pipes Manufacturer
The popular steel pipe manufacturers are:
- Surya Roshni Ltd.
- Tata Steel Ltd.
- APL Apollo Tubes Ltd.
- JSW Steel Ltd.
03. Concrete Pipes
Concrete pipes are widely used in construction and require no introduction. It is the most prevalently used drainage pipe due to its availability locally, low cost, strength, and durability. Another reason these pipes are widely used is their eco-friendliness and non-flammability, as opposed to plastic pipes. Cement concrete pipes may be either reinforced or plain. Plain cement concrete pipes are manufactured in small sizes, while they are reinforced with steel for large diameter pipes. The cement concrete pipes may be either cast-in-situ or precast. This type of piping material serves as a conduit material for sanitary sewers, storm drains and culverts, which carry water underground. The nominal diameter of concrete pipes ranges from 90 to 2000 mm.
Advantages of Concrete Pipes
- Precast concrete pipes offer flexibility as they can be built as per required specifications.
- This plumbing pipe material, once installed, demands little maintenance.
- Unlike iron pipes, there is no corrosion of concrete pipes.
- For small works, expansion joints are not normally required.
Disadvantages of Concrete Pipes
- It is difficult to repair concrete pipes.
- Due to heavy weight and bulk, they are difficult to transport and need to be handled carefully on-site.
- After a certain period of time, concrete pipes tend to leak due to porosity and shrinkage cracks.
- As they are manufactured in small lengths, the number of joints required by this type of piping material increases.
Concrete Pipes Manufacturers
The following are popular concrete pipes manufacturers:
- Aadit concrete products pvt. ltd.
- Ameya concretech pvt.ltd.
- Garima Cement Pipe Industries LLP
04. Asbestos Cement (A.C.) Pipes
Asbestos Cement pipes (AC pipes) are manufactured from asbestos fibres and cement. The use of asbestos fibres reduces the weight of the pipes while maintaining adequate strength. Since AC pipes do not contain reinforcement steel, they are resistant to hydrogen sulphide corrosion and aggressive soils. The smooth walls of the pipe provide low friction factors, resulting in low operating costs. Asbestos cement pipes are generally used in vent pipes, soil pipes and rainwater pipe. Asbestos cement pipes are available in a variety of widths and lengths. They are not recommended for underground situations. The nominal diameter of asbestos cement pipes ranges from 600 mm to 1000 mm.
Advantages of Asbestos Cement Pipes
- Asbestos cement pipe has smooth internal surface, so the friction losses are reduced.
- They are light, so they can be easily transported and handled.
- Asbestos cement pipes can be easily jointed, fitted or cut.
- They are anti-corrosive.
Disadvantages of Asbestos Cement Pipes
- One of the major disadvantages of asbestos cement pipes, is that they are costly.
- This plumbing pipe material has less durability.
- They are brittle and hence can easily break.
Asbestos Cement Pipe Manufacturers
The popular asbestos cement pipe manufacturers are:
- ARL infratech Ltd.
- Mahalakshmi industries
- G.B asbestos pipes
05. Plastic Pipes
Plastic pipes are the most common drainage pipes nowadays. This is primarily due to the fact that it is cheaper when compared to other types of pipe materials. In the house drainage system, the soil pipes and waste pipes are generally plastic pipes. This hot water pipe material is strong enough to tolerate any pressure. It only takes some glue to join two parts together, thereby saving time on welding or soldering. From the environmental point of view, plastic pipes are not good. Not only is it non-recyclable, but its production involves a high degree of pollutants too. Plastic pipes are affected by exposure to ultraviolet radiation and hence may become brittle after some years. Hence, it is recommended to protect the plastic drainage pipes from sunlight, by wrapping the pipe and fittings with an opaque material or painting it. Nominal inside diameter of plastic pipes available are 50, 65, 75, 90, 100, 125 and 150 mm. Plastic pipes are also used as hot water pipe material. Following types of plastic pipes are generally available in the market.
(a) Low density polyethylene (LDPE) pipes
(b) High density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes
(c) Unplasticised-polyvinyl chloride(UPVC) pipes
According to researchers Xiong et al. (authors of the article – The application of life cycle assessment for the optimization of pipe materials of building water supply and drainage system), the energy consumption of UPVC pipe in the building drainage system could be reduced by about 86% when compared to that of galvanized steel pipe and copper pipe.
Advantages of Plastic Pipes
- With plastic pipes, there is no problem of corrosion.
- Plastic drainage pipes are highly resistant to acidic waters.
- They are free from damage due to thawing and freezing of water in closed pipe.
- Installation, joining and bending of plastic pipes is easy.
- This water line pipe material is light in weight, and hence easy to transport and handle.
- The major advantage of plastic pipes is they are cheaper as compared to other pipes.
Disadvantages of Plastic Pipes
- In case of fire, this water line pipe material catches fire easily as it has low resistant to fire.
- The coefficient of expansion of plastic pipe is high.
- Plastic pipes are less eco-friendly, as its production releases harmful chemicals.
Plastic Pipes Manufacturers
The popular plastic pipes manufacturers:
- Jain irrigation systems Ltd.
- Astral poly technik Ltd.
- Finolex industries Ltd.
- Prince pipes and fittings Ltd.
06. Copper Pipes
Copper pipes, once upon a time, were widely used for house drainage system such as supply tubing for toilets or pedestal sinks. However, this hot water pipe material has been replaced by plastic pipe because this pipe is quite expensive now. This water line pipe material cannot sustain cold climates and is likely to burst if water freezes inside. Copper pipes are frequently used in the construction industry for residential water supply lines, as well as drain and vent lines. This water line pipe material is available in soft or rigid copper and provides excellent corrosion resistance as well as reliable connections. The nominal diameter of copper pipe ranges from 6 to 200 mm.
Advantages of Copper pipes
- Copper pipes have high durability, with a long lifespan of up to 70 years.
- These pipes are light in weight, which makes them easier to work with.
- Copper pipes are more environment friendly than plastic pipes, as they do not emit harmful chemicals during manufacturing process.
- Copper pipes are recyclable at the end of their service life.
- Copper has high fire rating, hence it is resistant to fire. For areas which are prone to fire, copper pipes can prove to be very useful.
Disadvantages of Copper pipes
- One of the major disadvantages of copper pipes is that they are costly. According to researchers Asadi et al (Authors of the article – Environmental and economic life cycle assessment of PEX and copper plumbing systems: A case study) PEX piping, a type of plastic pipe, when used instead of the traditional copper piping systems in residential buildings, would considerably reduce the total cost of the building by over 63% over its life cycle.
- Copper pipes are not recommended in cold climates, as there is a potential risk of bursting of pipes if the water freezes in it.
Copper pipes Manufacturers
The following are popular copper pipes manufactures
- Shanghai Metal Corporation
- Kwality Pipe & Tube Industries
Choosing the right drainage pipe can take a great deal of effort. Depending on the material and style, you may need to change the drawings or blueprints for a project, or vice-versa. This article has summarised all the popular types of pipe materials, with their advantages and disadvantages, which will help you make a wise decision.
We have got a detailed guide on the popular PEX pipe, make sure you check it out: