Pipes and pipe fittings come in a variety of materials, such as copper, PEX, steel, many different plastics, and more. So how can you know which material is the best one to use? Your builder or plumber may be able to provide you with some advice, but it’s always best to make sure you are well informed before making the ultimate decision when it comes to something so important. That way, you won’t end up with any surprises later down the road that may be difficult and costly to fix.
Compatibility, Climate and More
Many factors affect the fittings you choose, aside from merely the cost. While the cost is a big factor to take into account, after all, copper fittings, for instance, are more expensive than using PEX, does that mean PEX should automatically be chosen over copper? Not necessarily. It all depends on the totality of the situation and which material is proper for all factors involved.
Aside from expense, it’s necessary to determine if your fittings are compatible with any existing pipes. For instance, if you are replacing pipes in a certain area of the home or building, or renovating an existing structure, it’s necessary to determine what piping material is already there and use corresponding fitting material. Another major factor involved in your decision should be the difficulty of installation. Not all materials are fitted equally. Which materials will be easier to install, and which will take more time and effort?
In addition, it’s important to know if the fittings are compatible with the environment they will be used in: for instance, is the environment in an area that could face freezing weather regularly? Earthquakes? in a fire hazard area? Will the fittings be used indoors or outdoors? Above ground or underground? What types of temperatures and pressures will the pipes and fittings undergo? What materials are found in the ground in the particular area they will be placed? This is particularly important when using a piping material that may corrode over time in certain locations and facing certain ground materials. The heat or wetness of the location is also important. Corrosion can occur with certain materials in very wet climates, or climates in which there are high levels of atmospheric salt or sulfur.
There are many different choices when it comes to piping and fitting materials. Choosing the best materials at the outset can save a tremendous amount of time, energy, work and heartache later down the line.