Using the right type of pipes for your water heater and furnace is important. Pipes are responsible for carrying natural gas, water and waste in and out of the home. This makes them very important to the flow of the home whether during installation of new equipment or replacing them if they crack. If this does happen, they need to be replaced quickly. Always consult local building codes and regulations before installing new pipes. Some areas require installation by a professional.
Plastic Pipes for Water Heaters
Using PVC pipes is typically only used for cold water applications only. They also are commonly used in irrigation systems and are available in both 10 and 20-foot lengths. These pipes are best for pressure applications with ½ inch to 2 inches in diameter. They are joined with primer and solvent cement.
Metal Pipes for Water Heaters
These pipes can be used with both hot and cold water. They are durable and lightweight and fit in tight places. They are also available in 10 or 20-foot lengths with ½ inch to 2 inch diameters. With this type of piping, M (red) and L (blue) must be used in conjunction when water service and distribution is concerned.
Plastic Pipes for Furnaces
In terms of gas supply to appliances, PVC plastic can be used in underground use only. This type of piping also can be used as main gas supply to the house. A wire is run besides the pipe to allow for the detection of metal detectors for repairs. With polyethylene piping, it is available in coils and is easy to install with minimal joints. This type of piping is connected with mechanical fittings or heat fusion. It is durable and offers long-term resistance to various environmental conditions.
Metal Pipes for Water Heaters
In terms of black malleable piping (iron, galvanized malleable iron and cast iron), it is used to transport propane and natural gas from the street or a tank to a home. It usually comes in the same lengths of 10 or 20 feet with ½ to 1 inch diameters. In terms of copper piping, two types of required, L (green) or K (blue) to transport gas. M (red) rated copper is used with indoor gas distribution. This type of piping is not recommended for use with natural gas in some areas. Soft copper piping is used in instances for gas applications and is joined using a flare joint or compression couplers.
Concerns of Safety
If opting for plastic pipes, it is advisable to use flexible PEX piping for drinking water. In a production or recycling standpoint, PVC isn’t as safe as the glue used to join the piping has strong solvents associated with them. While flexible PEX piping may have a plastic taste to it, it isn’t glued together, so there are fewer solvents associated with this type of piping. Look for piping that is marked NSF-PW or NSF-61 as this means they passed testing for harmful chemicals that may leech into the water. Another option is to install a water filter that can remove chemicals present in water and homeowners can use whatever type of piping they want then.
The reality is that we don’t have 100% safe. However we do have better solutions to choose from. Copper piping may be the system that is easiest to control. The problem is that we don’t have enough information on the dangers of plastic piping, so we are going off basic knowledge. The reality is that you should choose the piping you feel most comfortable with in your home. A professional can offer sound advice when choosing piping during replacement of appliances or during home construction.