Is it ABS or PVC for Drainpipes?

There are so many expert advices that you can go through as you choose between what types of piping material should be used for your drainpipes. The choice would normally narrow down to ABS and PVC piping materials. Both actually work well under normal conditions with slight differences when it comes to joining techniques, availability, and considerations based on the actual plumbing codes in the locality. So how do you choose, which material is ideal for your drainpipes?

Piping Comparison

You may be surprised to know that there are a lot of similarities between ABS and PVC plumbing pipes. In general, both piping materials are considered non-toxic and usually resistant to abrasion. Both are relatively easy to install, but ABS pipes enjoy a slight advantage as they are comparatively easier to install than PVC pipes. However, ABS pipes are also rather easier to get deformed as it is exposed to the heat of the sun.

Should you really choose between the two piping materials? If you consider longevity, both are equally durable without one material having an advantage over the other. In fact, if the installation is done properly, both types of plumbing pipe materials can remain efficient long after you have died.

Making the Choice

But if you are to choose, how do you do it or where do you start? One of the most important considerations would have to be checking the local plumbing codes. Ask building inspectors what is allowed by the local codes. This not only makes installation easier, but more importantly saves you a lot of time in terms of ensuring compliance. You wouldn’t want to do the installation only to have it torn out once you find out it is against local codes, right?

When there is no problem with existing codes, check on the local supply. Go to the nearest home center and find out which material has more stocks available. This is important because having a wider selection of fittings usually makes installation easier to accomplish.

As both pipe plumbing materials are resistant to many types of alkalis, acids, and salts, they are both susceptible to chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons. Both ABS and PVC can be safely installed either above or below ground, except that when installed above ground, ABS should not be directly exposed to the sun. Some local regulations though require the use of pigment with ABS piping materials that is intended to protect it from the effects of UV radiation. Sometimes ABS pipes are painted with latex paint for protection.

What makes PVC piping material softer and more flexible? This is made possible by the addition of plasticizers. However, ABS piping materials are still easier to install and do not require a purple primer to be applied before every joint that is glued together. PVC joints must also be held together for about 10 seconds to make sure that the glue binds the pieces together.

Should you run into the possibility of connecting ABS pipes to PVC ones, you must remember that you cannot simply glue or cement both pipes together. You will need a rubber transition coupling that has stainless steel clamps to make a successful and leak-free connection.

Other Considerations

Aside from those earlier mentioned, it is also of considerable use to know that ABS piping materials perform better when used in lower temperature environments. Again, just make sure that the material is not directly exposed to the sun.

Both materials are durable, but PVC is slightly less durable because it is designed to be softer and more flexible. The good news is that water degradation and chemicals are relatively non-issue with both ABS and PVC pipes.

Unless you are planning on using extensive amounts, the price difference is not that huge as well. ABS pipes generally costs about $5.79 on the average while plain end PVC pipes will run you around $9.99.

The safest way though to make the right choice for your drainpipes is to consult with a licensed professional plumbing service to make sure that your home plumbing continues to function efficiently.