For the do it yourself homeowner there are many types of plastic plumbing pipe and fittings available today. While cast iron, copper, and galvanized steel are still being used, it is quite common for plumbers to use either ABS or PVC pipe in new home drainage systems. The advantages of these plastic pipes make them the best choice for the professional as well as the home owner. A couple of benefits are low cost and availability. Metal prices continue to rise making copper and cast iron pipe limited to fire rated assemblies and special commercial construction. Material weight is another advantage. Plastic pipe is much lighter than metal pipe. This helps make installation easier.
Assembling PVC or ABS drain pipe is also quite simple. It can be cut with a common hack saw or a tubing cutter. After cutting the pipe to length, remove the burrs from the end of the pipe and apply the appropriate glue to the pipe and fitting. Next, simply insert the pipe into the fitting with a slight twisting motion. The glue sets quickly and the results are a strong permanent joint. Plastic pipe is also easily joined to cast iron, steel or copper by using the appropriate transition fittings. This makes plastic pipe ideal for repairs on existing drain lines.
When installing horizontal plastic drain lines make sure they are properly supported. A good practice is to support the plastic pipes at four-foot intervals and at the ends to prevent sagging and to maintain good grade for drainage. A vertical pipe should be supported at every floor level.
Keep in mind that plastic pipe tends to be a little noisier than a cast iron pipe. If installed below a concrete floor or in a crawl space this won’t be a problem. If installed in a wall or ceiling though, consider wrapping the pipe with insulation to quiet down the sound of wastewater flowing through the pipe. Particularly on toilet lines and large vertical stacks.
If you’re considering a home improvement project or have drain pipes in need of repair consider using plastic pipe. It is the best alternative to metallic pipes and the best choice for home owners.