Primer on Plumbing Pipe Materials Found in Modern Homes

For any and all plumbing pipe issues that may arise in your home, the team at My Buddy the Plumber in Park City is here to help. From services like pipe jetting for clog removal to sewer line cleaning and repair solutions, we’ll help you ensure all drains in and around your home are clear and working properly throughout the year.

One factor that will often play a significant role in the quality and lifespan of your pipes: The material they’re made from. Here’s a primer on piping material, from materials common in decades past (some of which can still be found in homes today) to the modern upgrades you’ll usually find in newer homes.
plumbing pipe materials modern homes

Cast Iron Pipes

For many homes built before the 1960s, cast iron was the primary material used. Commonly installed with vertical drainage systems, cast iron pipe systems could last for decades with the proper care. Unfortunately, they were also prone to rust and corrosion, and their uneven interior materials led to clogs and other buildups.

In addition, there have been varying periods in recent history where cast iron was not readily available to building contractors and plumbers. One such period surrounded World War II, for instance. For this reason, other materials were also used during earlier plumbing periods.

Orangeburg Pipes

One such other material is known as Orangeburg piping, also called bituminous fiber piping. It’s made of wood pulp sealed with coal tar, and was the common stand-in for cast iron piping during World War II and other eras where cast iron wasn’t easily available.

Orangeburg piping was originally meant for use in electrical and telecommunications areas, and it’s not as durable as most other piping types. It comes with a high risk of tree root infiltration, bellying and general damage.

Clay Options

Another alternative that was used before and during the WWII era was clay, specifically a clay-shale blend. This is a long-lasting format that resists corrosion and acidic breakdowns, but also is weaker and more porous, leading to greater risks of leaking and tree root concerns.

Modern Pipe Materials

It’s possible that some older homes may still contain pipes made using the materials we’ve listed above – if yours is one such home, speak to our team about considering an upgrade. The two most common modern pipe materials used today are:

  • PVC and ABS: Short for polyvinyl chloride and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, these are two similar plastic piping formats often used today. They are completely rust-proof and smooth, meaning they don’t deal with corrosion risks or blockage increases. They’re affordable and versatile – they can even be used in the same system alongside older cast iron or clay piping formats.
  • Concrete: Concrete was used in prior generations as an encasement material for clay piping, but today it’s often used as its own piping material. These materials are affordable and strong, with lifespans lasting in excess of 30 years.

For more on common piping materials to be aware of, or to learn about any of our plumbing or heating and air services, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Plumber today.