which-piping-system-is-bestConsider all of life’s tough decisions. We doubt choosing the right pipe was one of the first things that came to mind. But the correct piping system is critical to new construction, renovation, or remodeling jobs. Making the right choice can help prevent costly repairs or even accidents. In this article, we will examine the benefits and potential drawbacks of different types of piping systems.

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is very versatile – you can use it for water, gases, chemicals, ultra-clean water, and more. As always, the material your pipe will be handling should determine the type you choose. But as a rule of thumb, PVCs are good for reactive or corrosive materials; elements that won’t react to plastic. Drawbacks include PVC’s rigidity, which can lead to cracks.

HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, is a plastic pipe used with corrosive or chemically-reactive materials. We always tell our customers that this is the type of piping that you can bury and not look at again for 50 years. Tough and durable, it also has the capability of “moving with the ground,” making it a very good line to bury, which happens all the time in the gas industry.

Carbon steel
Carbon steel piping is best used for higher pressure and higher temperatures, like running steam or high-pressure gas. Examples include underground higher-pressure gas lines or piping oil. Obviously, carbon can rust – it’s the easiest steel there is to corrode – so you don’t want to use it anywhere you’re going to have a high reaction. And if carbon steel pipe is buried, it needs to be coated with protective sealant over the top to combat corrosion.

Stainless steel
This pipe serves well across multiple sectors where both higher pressure and non-corrosive or non-reactive properties are needed. There are several grades of stainless steel available, depending on corrosiveness/reactivity of what it carries, and stainless piping can be costly. An advantage to using stainless is that it is much easier to keep clean than any of the other pipes.

Aluminum piping is seldom used – because it is so expensive – but is still an option for very specific systems. So if you’re running compressed air or a gas system where weight matters, aluminum is the right choice. Aluminum also offers better flow dynamics for pressurized gases, but due to its high cost, there are creative solutions available to produce the same benefit without using aluminum. For example, creating higher pressure in stainless pipes can produce the same effect for far less expense.

Cast iron
Primarily used years ago, cast iron pipes can be very strong, but are also very brittle. In other words, when they break, they crack. This type of system was used for drainpipes in high-rise buildings and other large buildings, but plastic pipe is now a better choice due to its low reactive properties.

Lined pipe is usually designated for materials that are very corrosive. Pipes can be lined with glass, poly, fiberglass, or some other media to handle highly corrosive or reactive materials.

Used mainly indoors as water pipes, copper can be expensive, since it is now considered a precious metal, and its cost is directly impacted by market fluctuations. While copper is a better choice to carry water, PVC is a cheaper substitute.

Choosing the one that’s right for you
At TMS, helping a client choose which piping system to install starts with finding out what they’re running through it. We ask about different applications, mixing of materials, and any other variables that would impact the piping system. We then apply our wide experience with different systems to come up with the best, most workable solution.

If you have any questions, contact TMS to talk over how we can help you build the piping system that is right for your project.