What kind of water pipes to choose for your home

What kind of water pipes to choose for your home

Today’s home, for living, can be superior to a city apartment in terms of comfort level. Even the modern basic minimum in the most spartan conditions includes not only electricity, but also plumbing and sewage. The heating system can now be air, and on the basis of infrared radiators or convectors, and to deliver water to consumers otherwise than by pipes, have not yet learned. If the type of source (centralized networks, a well, a well) is not so important, the quality and characteristics of the pipes directly depends on the capacity, reliability and durability of water supply. Therefore, the most important preparatory stage of organizing a private water system – the choice of pipes that meet its specifics. Let’s see if it is necessary to overpay for copper pipes or if “correct” plastic pipes will be enough for our age.

What are the requirements for water pipes?

In the relatively recent past, homeowners did not have much choice – the plumbing was installed from what could be obtained. Now on sale in Moscow and in the periphery a wide range of accessories of all kinds, for different operating conditions and financial capabilities. And let the price is important because quality products can not cost cheap, no less important other criteria. What kind of pipes to choose for your home plumbing depends on a number of factors.

Purpose – not all commercially available pipes are designed to interact with drinking water, there are also products for technical needs. Such a pipe is quite acceptable to lay in the garage to wash the car, or give her water to the irrigation system. But if you arrange her home plumbing, you may be confronted with a deterioration of organoleptic properties of water, and with the problems of a technical nature. Also for different temperature regimes use either universal products or specific, which must be taken into account when choosing.

Strength – in a private home, the pressure in the water pipe supply is lower than in the water supply systems of apartment buildings, but it also day after day tests the strength of the pipes. And they should initially be designed not only for “passing”, but also for peak load. Plus, the pipes must be able to withstand external loads and impacts during operation, and this is not only the pressure of the ground in the underground installation, but also the impact of ultraviolet light, if part of the line runs on the surface, and temperature fluctuations.
Ease of installation – many private citizens save on hiring contractors and collect engineering communications themselves. And the easier to work with pipes and fittings, the more preferable, if a universal soldering iron for plastic pipes to buy, borrow or rent is not a problem, the expensive special equipment for metal press systems have not every professional. The initial high cost of the pipes and fittings themselves will be aggravated by the high cost of installation.

Longevity – like other engineering systems, plumbing is done once and for many years, because its repair is associated with great difficulty and investment. Each material has its own lifetime and modern polymeric pipes have it for dozens of years, which is quite enough for household needs.
Aesthetics – this parameter is important in cases where the wall material or design style suggests the distribution of water pipes in the open method. And here plastic on all fronts loses to metal, whether it is steel or copper pipes.

On sale the products of renowned and not very brands, both domestic and foreign, and outright counterfeit is not encountered so often, but the caution has not been canceled. Modern technology allows you to “draw” almost any certificate of conformity. The fact that the pipe, for example, is made of virgin high-pressure polyethylene and is designed for drinking water, should be confirmed by a label, as well as the characteristics of polypropylene or metal water pipes. Unmarked products are very likely made from dubious raw materials on the same dubious equipment, and the quality is appropriate, but the price is tempting. If you save money and choose them, in the future – the repair is not in a couple of decades, but in a year and a half and with much more labor and financial investments.

Types of water pipes

There are no perfect technologies and materials, but it is realistic to choose the best ones based on specific conditions. Modern water pipes are divided into three main categories:


the consolidated name of several varieties of pipes made of polymeric materials. With a common raw material base, they differ in manufacturing method, technical and operational characteristics and specifics of application.


composite pipes, combining the advantages of metal and polymers, but with their own features.
Metal – for a long time there was no alternative to metal and the choice of a particular variety was reduced only by financial possibilities. Today, an alternative in the form of polymers and composite appeared, but in certain cases, as before, the victory for the metal.

Why steel surrendered its positions, and copper remained at its, what plastic pipes are better in one situation or another – let’s analyze in detail.

Plastic water pipes

All subspecies of plastic pipes are characterized by resistance to corrosion (rotting) due to constant contact with humid environments and this is their most important advantage. Plus, quality plastic pipes have a perfectly smooth inner surface that prevents the formation of deposits and narrowing of the lumen.

There are two categories of plastic pipes:

Polyethylene pipes (PE), more often called HDPE, according to the material of manufacture (low-pressure polyethylene). Produce them and of cross-linked polyethylene, but it is less in demand in the water supply.
Polypropylene pipes (PP).
Sometimes PVC (polyvinyl chloride) products are also referred to plastic water pipes, but they are usually used in the arrangement of sewage. Therefore, let us dwell in detail on polyethylene and polypropylene products.

Polyethylene pipes – they have no equal when it comes to doing water distribution from the source to the site and into the house by underground method. They are lightweight, sold in coils, not afraid of dynamic loads and low temperatures, and thanks to plasticity they do not break when freezing water. Plasticity also allows you to make smooth turns without angular connections, which speeds up installation and increases the reliability of the line. When organizing a year-round water pipeline, the pipe is usually laid by trenching below the freezing level (for your region) without additional insulation. When laying above freezing without insulation or heating cable, nothing will happen to the pipe, which can not be said about the fittings. These products have less frost resistance and if the system is complex, with branch lines and connections, you must either dig deeper or invest in heating.

Not even a disadvantage, but a feature of HDPE pipes is a narrow specialization, they are used only for transporting cold water, and usually in the outer part of the pipeline. Openly they are not laid, as the material is not resistant to ultraviolet radiation, and like plastic film over time destroyed. But when there is a harsh need, the surface area must be protected from the sun’s rays and there will be no problems.

Installation of polyethylene pipes does not require professional equipment, the system is collected on the collet fittings (threaded) in exposed areas (tapping into the source, entering the house). And on the sections of the underground pipeline or in places where grouting (foundation) is desirable to do without connections at all or threaded fittings replaced by fittings for soldering (welding) in the socket, if the diameter allows. Use the same soldering iron as for soldering polypropylene heating pipes and water pipes.


are considered universal, as they can be used for both cold and hot water supply, but for DHW you need to choose the reinforced variety. Reinforced polypropylene pipes can withstand high pressure and temperature of the carrier up to 80˚ C. PP-pipes is the best option for internal wiring as they combine strength and durability with presentability. As an element of the decor they do not pretend, but in the boiler room, and in the bathroom view will not spoil, but the markings should be placed against the wall. Polypropylene is resistant to UV light, but not to negative temperatures, which is why the frozen pipe can break. Therefore, when constructing an outdoor seasonal water pipe (its elements) in the open method should not forget to drain and blast the system in the winter.

Pipeline installation is carried out by soldering, threaded fittings are used to transition to a pipe of a different diameter and material. When it comes to water pipelines leak in private homes, the most popular combination of HDPE-pipes for wiring outdoors and PP-pipes for partitioning the house.

The service life of plastic water pipes or pipes used for heating, manufacturers indicate a half century, subject to profile application. That is, if the cold water will be HDPE outside and polypropylene inside, and reinforced polypropylene or metal-plastic for hot water, the water pipe will last the declared period.

Metal plastic pipes

In these pipes, between the inner and outer layers of plastic (usually cross-linked polyethylene from which pipes for underfloor heating are made), there is an aluminum reinforcing layer. Reinforcement increases the mechanical strength of the pipes and allows them to withstand high temperatures (95˚C) and pressure surges. Metal plastic pipes are used in cold and hot water supply systems, as well as in heating systems. This article is not about the choice of heating pipes, but it is worth noting that the metal-plastic variety is needed in high-temperature radiator systems.

If we are talking about water supply, even hot, reinforced polypropylene is preferable for a private home. This is due to the peculiarities of installation of metal-plastic pipes – it seems to be easier, there is no need to weld anything (threaded fittings), but the components are more expensive, and the reliability of these connections are inferior to soldering.

Metal Pipes

Metal private water pipes are made of two types of pipes – steel and copper.

Steel – with the advent of plastic are practically out of use, which is quite logical. With such advantages as durability and resistance to high pressure and temperatures, they are inferior to polymers in all other respects. They are heavier, more difficult to transport and even more difficult to install. Welding equipment requires more skills, qualitative weld thin-walled pipe of relatively small diameter is not an easy task even for professionals, not to mention self-made. Welded seam can be replaced by fittings and threaded joints, but to achieve tightness is also difficult. In operation, steel pipes must be painted, which does not add to their popularity. They also have other disadvantages:

Exposure to corrosion – if the outside of the pipes are painted, protecting against rust, from the inside it forms unhindered. As a result, water quality deteriorates and the service life of the pipeline decreases, and it requires repair more and more often.

Deterioration of flow capacity – unlike plastic, steel has a rough surface, which, together with corrosion, leads to a fairly rapid accumulation of sediment in the pipes and narrowing of the working passage.
Cost – in the price jumped almost all materials for construction, but the metal in this group leads by a significant margin. Today, “black” steel plumbing will cost more than plastic plumbing, and it is unlikely to last longer. If you consider stainless or chrome steel, the budget will increase by times, and of the advantages will be only the possibility of open laying and stylish appearance (to the lover).
For internal water supply networks steel pipes are still sometimes used, burying the same metal in the ground is not necessary, for these purposes is much more suitable pipe made of low-pressure polyethylene. In terms of private consumption, it fully covers the needs and for strength and reliability, and durability, and will cost less.


Copper is the best choice for indoor plumbing when you have a lot of money, and the interior design involves open piping (hot water, DHW, heating) in a distinctive color scheme. With minimal wall gas thickness copper pipe is resistant to high pressure, high and low temperatures, and it does not thaw if the house is not heated for a while. The undoubted advantages of copper pipes also include:

  • resistance to corrosion;
  • resistance to narrowing of the working passage;
  • antibacterial properties (copper is able to disinfect water);
  • practicality (metal does not need to be painted or varnished);
  • aesthetics (if the open stainless steel water pipe looks technologically, the copper looks noble);
  • durability.

Installation of the system is carried out in several ways.

  • Capillary soldering – by means of special solder and a gas torch assemblies are not disassembled, but this type of connection is recognized as the most reliable.
  • Collet fittings – threaded connections are easier to make, you only need a set of threaded fittings and a wrench, but the tightness of the system and reliability of assembly is lower than that of soldering.
  • Crimp press fittings – the most modern and least time-consuming way to assemble the copper pipeline, but you need expensive equipment and expensive components. However, when it comes to this type of system, savings on consumables and performers are of little concern.
  • Copper is many times more expensive than plastic or metal-base laminate. And while for some this figure is the main disadvantage for others, by contrast, an advantage, which allows you to show others their own wealth. In wooden houses, the focus is not on aesthetics, but on fire safety.

What is the best pipe reinforcement

Reinforce pipes for hot water and heating to increase the strength characteristics (can withstand pressure up to 25 atmospheres) and increase their service life. Polypropylene pipes are more often reinforced with fiberglass, but there is also a metal core of aluminum. Polyethylene metal pipes are reinforced only with a metal aluminum core. Paradoxically, fiberglass reinforcement is more reliable than metal, because the structure of the pipe turns out to be monolithic, not layered.

What should be the diameter of water pipes

On the diameter of the pipes will be made external piping and internal distribution of water to consumers, directly depends on the comfort and performance of sanitary equipment and appliances. And the choice of the optimum diameter for the pipes of the home water supply system is directly affected by several factors.

The length of the main line.

  • The complexity of the system (the number of through elements, stop and control valves, pumping equipment and metering devices, the presence of areas of contraction, curves and turns).
  • Number of consumers and estimated volume of simultaneous water intake.
  • Type of distribution (serial supply to each intake point or manifold scheme).
  • The longer and more complex the water mains and the larger the consumption volumes, the larger the cross-section of water pipes should be for trouble free operation.

In practice, the street pipeline from the source is mostly made of plastic HDPE pipe, diameter 32 mm (standard cross-section of pumps). But if we are not talking about a local system on the basis of a well or a well, when the owner himself, and the connection to a centralized network, the choice may not be.

The diameter of pipes for internal distribution depends on their purpose and the individual characteristics of the system. The usual scheme of distributing assumes a central riser with a larger diameter, from which go outlets to consumers. Masters recommend selecting the following values.

  • When one floor of one bathroom and one kitchen sink, for lines suitable polypropylene pipe with a diameter of 20 mm.
  • When one floor has two bathrooms (bathroom and toilet), riser perform a polypropylene pipe of 25 mm and side branches of the same, but a diameter of 20 mm.
  • When the house in two or more floors, and each bathroom plus a kitchen, riser perform PP pipe diameter of 32 mm, outlets for 20 mm.
  • When the device plumbing pipes made of other materials (metal-plastic, copper), the recommended diameters do not change.

More accurate calculations performed by a sufficiently complex formulas or using online calculators. But for most private houses of average area with a standard set of consumers, the above diameters are enough to provide a stable head and comfortable water use. In contrast to the typical apartment, in which without the introduction of pumping equipment problematic both to bathe in the shower and wash dishes at the same time, the water supply in the house is realistic to design the optimal performance.

Steel products, even stainless steel, in modern homes are very rare, they are almost completely replaced by a polymer. Copper, as was, and remains a material for the wealthy segments of the population, ready to lay out an order of magnitude more for reliability, durability and aesthetics. But regardless of the species, any water pipes must be of high quality and comply with the specific application. Combined with a well-thought-out project and compliance with the technology of installation – it will provide an effective, reliable and durable water supply system, which will work for decades without complaint.