When to use different types of piping

When to use different types of piping

Dear Angie: I need to replace some sections of copper pipe in my basement and want to make sure I replace it with the right kind. Which is better, copper or CPVC, and why? – Lisa V., Pittsburgh, PA

Dear Lisa: First, check your local plumbing guidelines. Many areas require a permit to install piping. As with most plumbing repairs, hiring a qualified, certified and licensed professional helps ensure the problem is fixed correctly – the first time. Too often, plumbers are called in only after enthusiastic, if unqualified, homeowners have made the problem worse by attempting to do the job themselves.

As far as the type of piping you should have installed, you have three main choices. Copper (most professionals recommend Type L copper piping), CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) and PEX (crosslinked polyethylene). Copper pipe and fittings are typically more expensive, and more labor intensive because they need to be soldered. Still, many professionals swear by copper and praise it for its durability.

PEX and CPVC are considered the easiest to install and many plumbers say they rival copper piping in quality and surpass it in flexibility. PEX and PVC are ideal for high moisture areas where copper might corrode. Installation is a bit different for both, with PEX requiring the use of a crimper tool and CPVC a glued product. Many professionals plumbers recommend keeping consistent piping throughout the home.

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