Primer on Various Plumbing Pipe Materials, Part 1

Whether we’re talking about a basic plumbing inspection or a significant repair, there’s a good chance pipes will be involved anytime your home’s plumbing is being worked on. Pipes are the foundation of the plumbing system, allowing for water, waste and other materials to move to their proper locations.

At My Buddy the Plumber, we’re experts in the various kinds of pipes that might be present in your home – and we’re happy to explain them to you as part of our varied plumbing services, which include everything from pipe jetting to sewer line cleaning, water softener and filtration and water heater installations. Knowing the kind of piping used in your home may prove valuable if concerns arise at some point; with this in mind, this two-part blog will go over many of the common types found in homes today, beginning with some of the earliest pipe formats.

primer plumbing pipe materials

Orangeburg Pipes

One of the first piping formats used that can still be found in certain homes today is known as Orangeburg piping, also called bituminous fiber piping. This type is made from wood pulp and sealed with coal tar, and was commonly found during World War II.

Orangeburg pipes were highly common in new home construction up until the 1970s, meaning if your home was built in that decade, it’s possible such pipes are still present. However, plumbers quickly realized Orangeburg pipes were not particularly durable, and are at higher risk than other materials of bellying, deterioration and infiltration from tree roots in the yard. For this reason, these pipes are never used for new home construction today.

Cast Iron

In many cases, plumbers preferred to use cast iron pipes over Orangeburg options – but during World War II, cast iron was in short supply, so this wasn’t always possible. Cast iron pipes are very durable, lasting up to 30 years in many cases.

However, they are highly susceptible to rust and corrosion, plus to water buildup, clogs, cracking and collapsing issues. These formats are also generally not used today for new construction.

Clay Pipes

Another World War II era piping option was clay, or really a clay and shale blend mixture. These models were ahead of their time in their environmental friendliness, plus durable and resistant to chemicals and acids.

Sadly, clap pipes don’t have the strength of modern piping formats – otherwise, they might still be used regularly today. They are highly brittle and also porous, meaning they risk leaks, crumbling, tree root infiltration and snapping, especially when high water pressure is present.

In part two, we’ll go over the modern piping formats you’ll generally find. To learn more about this or any of our plumbing or HVAC services, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Plumber in Provo today.