Selecting Other Plumbing Products
Copper, CPVC, PVC, and PEX are just a few of the material options available for residential plumbing uses. When searching for plumbing products, it’s helpful to understand the common types of plumbing products and their intended usages.
Copper tubing is one of the most widely used home plumbing materials. Not all copper tubing is intended for drinking water, so look for certification to NSF/ANSI 61 if your end use involves drinking water contact.
Professional installation or some plumbing knowledge is usually needed, as the use of soldering compounds or compression fittings is necessary to join the various sections of pipe. In situations where the pH of the water is below 6.5, copper tubing is generally not recommended as there is the potential for copper to leach from the pipe into drinking water. Homeowners with acidic water should install an acid neutralizer to help raise pH before installing copper tubing or consider using pipes made of materials other than metal, such as PVC, CPVC or PEX.
PVC, CPVC and PEX
Plastic plumbing has been used for potable and non-potable water applications since the 1950s.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used in the production of a wide array of pipes and fittings, including those used for transporting both drinking water and wastewater. Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) is most commonly used for drinking water applications only.
Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) has become a popular option for new construction as well as remodeling projects due to its flexibility. Unlike rigid pipes, PEX does not require 90-degree fittings to make turns. Many PEX products are also tested to withstand high temperatures and can be used for both hot and cold water supply lines as well as for radiant floor heating applications.
Other Plumbing Products
Several additional plumbing-related products can be used in homes in addition to the pipes themselves. These products can include cements and primers for PVC pipes, hot water dispensers and pipe coatings. Because water can pick up substances from any material that it touches, it’s important to make sure that all plumbing materials used in the home’s potable water supply meet the NSF/ANSI 61 standard for contact with drinking water.
Most plumbing products will bear a certification mark indicating for what application the product received certification, e.g. NSF pw for potable water or NSF rfh for radiant floor heating applications.