There have been a lot of different pipe materials used in the plumbing industry over the years and being able to identify the various different types require a little effort and time. Most homes were originally built with multiple pipe materials, some were pipes for water, and others were for the drain. Each material has advantages and as well as disadvantages. So knowing the different pipe materials can help you not only better identify your plumbing problem, but to potentially solve it as well.

The composition of your plumbing pipes can dramatically impact your entire plumbing system. Picking the wrong type could mean that you have to do repairs to replace it drastically sooner than you would have anticipated. and can either be used for a long time or have to be replaced sooner than what you have anticipated.



Was the material of choice, for homes built before 1960s. This highly durable pipe type can be recognized by it’s texture and color; smooth, silver pipes, coated with zinc. However, despite being durable, they have a limited lifespan and are susceptible to rust. Water will cause galvanized pipes to corrode and rust on the inside because the steel corrodes over time.

To know if you have a galvanized pipe, scratch the outside of the pipe with the screwdriver and the area will have a silver gray color and a strong magnet will stick to it.


This pipe looks similar to PVC, but is cream in color and turns light tan as it ages. It is the most popular water pipe for new homes in our area. In addition, it is fairly easy to recognize because it should be marked “CPVC” on the pipe, as shown below.


However, just to be sure scratch a small area on the pipe and an ivory or white color should appear. Furthermore, a magnet will not stick to it.


Copper pipes are used normally in the construction industry for the supply of water and as a refrigerant line in HVAC systems. Copper can be used with hot or cold water and it is extremely durable. Even better, copper has a long lifespan but can be recycled once it eventually does need to be replaced.

Copper has a life expectancy of 50 to 70 years or more. However, very acidic water, or water with abnormal pH balances, hardness, and contaminants can cause the pipes to shorten their lifespan to ~20 years due to a phenmonemon called, pitting corrosion. Pitting corrosion, is the non-uniform localized corrosion along the inside wall of copper tube, pipe, or fittings.


This pipe is recognizable by its black finish and the bulge at the end of each pipe section, called a “hub” that the adjacent pipe fits into. It was commonly used up until the mid-1960s for drainpipes but rarely found used today in newer homes.

Some cast iron pipes are still in good working condition, but many have deteriorated and require replacement. Trenchless rehabilitation methods provide an effective method to replace such pipes by allowing for only those portions that have suffered damage to be removed.

Having a plumbing issue can be troubling enough, but if you do not know what kind of pipes you homes have, it makes finding a solution even more difficult. Spending a few minutes to learning more about the piping in your home will help you fix the problem and know what option is available. If your plumbing problem is more than you can handle, do not hesitate to contact a plumbing expert. If you are located near San Mateo, we would be honored if you gave us a call at Caccia Plumbing. Let us handle all of the dirty work for you.