Many factors may affect the lifespan and strength of a material, including its brittleness, impact, fatigue, and flexural strengths, and corrosion rate. Because of these variables, the “best” material in a given situation depends on the purpose of the pipeline.
Are we creating a large, new commercial sewer line or replacing a home’s waterline? Their size and ability to stand up under pressure makes reinforced concrete pipes the most widely used option for sewer systems. Even traditional options for residential plumbing pipes are varied. The best materials, with these factors in mind, include:
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC)
- Galvanized steel or stainless steel
The Best Metals
Copper is a heat-tolerant, non-toxic option with a long lifespan. Galvanized steel is an outdated form of plumbing that is generally replaced in older homes, and although stainless steel is a viable alternative, it is usually more expensive than copper piping. Older pipeline installments may be made of cast iron or even clay, but both of these options are less durable, and repairs or replacements will generally be made by incorporating other materials. Plastics are therefore becoming more and more common.
The Best Plastics
PVC is widely used by professionals but is prone to warping when exposed to heat. Luckily, plastics can be suited to a project’s needs. CPVC, for example, is a very safe option for drinking water and fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) have superior strength and corrosion resistance. They can be used in applications that involve more extreme temperatures and high mechanical stress.
Finally, composite pipes, constructed from layered polyethylene with an aluminum core, are mechanically stronger and more resistant to corrosion than unreinforced pipes. These are generally the best, most durable options and can be engineered to suit specialized projects, such as solar water heaters and natural gas delivery.
When deciding which material is best for you, remember that there is a range of options depending on your project and price point. In renovation projects, you may also want to consider trenchless pipe lining, which leaves you with new, long-lasting pipes without the mess of digging or cutting out the old pipes. For the best potential for success, consult a professional before deciding.