General Plumbing Supply Parts Tips
If you’re planning a kitchen or bath renovation, knowledge of general plumbing supply parts can be important. While many people might be aware of the most common PVC pipe and PVC plumbing fittings, they may have little knowledge of when to use what type of piping for supply lines and drain lines.
There are a variety of general plumbing supply pipes, including metals—which are primarily copper piping in today’s construction.
You might find brass, cast iron, or galvanized iron pipe if you have an older home.
If you do, they really should be replaced with copper or plastic PVC piping and appropriate fittings.
A lower than normal water pressure in these old homes can be the result of rust build-up in those pipes, and cast iron can develop leaks where it simply rusts through. It is possible to connect plastic PVC pipe and PVC fittings to existing cast iron, if it hasn’t gotten to the stage pictured left, but an experienced plumber might be needed.
Sometimes there are problems a mere mortal cannot see, so even if you are familiar with, and understand the uses of, some general plumbing supply parts and fittings you may need the help of someone used to combining materials and the code limits and safety factors of each.
GENERAL PLUMBING SUPPLY LINE
AND DRAIN PIPE MATERIALS
• Metal or Copper Piping. This can include brass, cast iron pipe and galvanized iron pipe. Copper pipe (right) is the most common supply line piping, and chrome-plated copper pipe is often used on visible supply lines. Micro-bore copper pipe can be bent by hand and is used in some heating systems, while the half-hard copper piping is used for heating system connections and supply lines, and connected using soldered joints, or compression and push-fit joints.
• Plastic Supply Lines and Drainage Pipes. By far the most popular, this includes PVC or CPVC pipe, which is rigid plastic or flexible pipe with ratings of DWV (for drain, waste, and venting) or PW (for water supply).
PVC withstands heat better than ABS plastic, but should never be used next to water heaters or boilers, and some building codes restrict use of ABS in other plumbing situations. Because it is so rigid, yet lightweight and bends easily, PVC needs support (every 3′) in long runs (over 6′) of piping.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) The most common type of supply and drain or waste piping.
CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) Rigid plastic pipe used for hot and cold supply lines and some industrial liquid transfer. Made also in a flexible tubing.
PB (polybutylene or Hep2o) Extremely flexible hot and cold water supply line.
PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) Another flexible alternative, often used in under-floor heating systems.
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) Most commonly used for drains and vent stacks, but can also be used for water lines and other pressurized systems.
UPVC (un-plasticized polyvinyl chloride) Large pipe commonly used underground for drainage (brown in color) or for soil stacks (gray in color).
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First, though, grab your plumbing diagram (right) and go talk to someone at one of the big boxes or plumbing supply houses. Tell them what you have in mind, listen and take notes. Having knowledge of general plumbing supply parts and pipes is an important beginning.
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