If you’re planning to build a home, want to re-pipe your existing plumbing lines or just need to replace a section of damaged pipe, you have multiple options. No longer is copper piping the primary choice for homeowners.

Angie’s List asked highly rated plumbers about the piping options homeowners have today.

Common plumbing materials:

  • Copper:  Most widely used, but more costly than plastic pipe. Long history of reliability, has an average life of about 50 years. Copper takes the most time and skill for installation. Prone to burst following a freeze.
  • CPVC (Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride):  A common plastic piping that is easy to install and inexpensive, but can be brittle and crack as soon as it freezes.
  • PEX (Cross-linked polyethylene):  Alternative for areas too small or tight for copper and CPVC pipes. Quick and easy to install and lightweight and flexible. Verdict is still out on how long it will last – has only been used for about 10 years.

*The different pipe types can all be connected together, in the event just a section of the pipe needs replaced.

Angie’s List Tips:

  • Hire a reputable plumber:  When hiring a plumber, especially for an expensive project, make sure the plumber you hire is fully qualified and licensed in your state. Get at least three written estimates from three different plumbers for your job.
  • Ask questions:  To ensure the piping system is the right fit, ask the plumber a few questions such as: What material options are best for my situation? How will it be installed? How long will the piping last? Are some systems more energy efficient that others? What are the costs? How long is the warranty?
  • Are you certified?  Plumbers working with PEX should be certified by the product manufacturer. Should the product not be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions, the warranty could be voided.
  • Check local code:  Codes specify which plumbing pipe and fitting materials are approved and codes vary depending on where you live.
  • Is it time to replace your pipes?  A few warning signs include a loss of water pressure or corrosion around fittings. Get an inspection if your home was built in the 50’s or 60’s and still has all original piping. Whenever you have walls and floors exposed (for example, during a kitchen or bathroom remodel) have your pipes inspected.