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The Pros And Cons Of Plastic Plumbing Pipes

Whether it’s for a refurbishment project or a brand new installation, pipes are fundamental for use in most plumbing jobs.

There are several types available, including bronze, copper, iron, and galvanised steel. However, plastic pipes seem to be increasing in popularity – especially as plumbers and installers are searching for durable, easy-to-install materials to help reduce installation time.

The question is, are plastic plumbing pipes any good? Or is it better to opt for copper pipes with excellent corrosion resistance, or galvanised steel that has a long lifespan?

As the company of choice for contractors, ground workers, civil engineers, and plumbers seeking polyethylene (PE) piping, we might be slightly biased at Total Pipeline Systems. To help you make an informed decision, here we take a look at the pros and cons of plastic pipes.

Pros of plastic pipes for plumbing:

  • Long-lasting. Plastic pipes, such as PVC and PE pipes, are rust and corrosion resistant, which means they can last indefinitely without needing to be replaced. Of course, they will need changing if they become damaged.
  • When it comes to making 90-degree bend turns, plastic is perfect. It can be snaked into walls to provide a neat finish and threaded through the joists in much the same way as a cabling system.
  • Ease of installation. With no joints, soldering, or gluing needed, fitting plastic pipes is straightforward enough for any professional plumber or DIYer.
  • No need for specialist tools. Push-fit plastic pipes reduce the need for plumbers to carry more tools than necessary. Once the pipes have been cut, measured, and deburred, they simply need to be twisted and secured with push-fit fittings.
  • Low cost. Though PE pipes tend to be slightly more expensive than their PVC counterparts, they are significantly cheaper than copper – making them an affordable option for plumbing pipes.
  • Temperature resistance. The typical operating temperature range of polyethylene is between -40°C and 80°C, which means plastic pipes are great for transporting hot water as well as cold.

Cons of plastic pipes for plumbing:

  • Susceptible to degradation. Most water pipes are used underground, but if exposed to UV rays and sunlight, the molecular structure of PE pipes can disintegrate. This causes them to become brittle and rupture, eventually leaking plastic compounds into the water.
  • Water taste and odour. Unfortunately, some types of plastic piping have been known to affect the taste and smell of potable drinking water, especially if the water has been held in the pipework for quite some time.
  • Lengthy manufacturing process. A lot of energy and time is required to produce polyethylene, resulting in high emissions of carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change and global warming.

Want to find out more about plastic piping?

Choosing the right pipe material for plumbing is vital. Though we are a true advocate of plastic pipes, we’d always recommend assessing the pros and cons of the different types of plumbing pipes to determine the best one for your application.

If you have a question about the PE pipes and fittings we supply at Total Pipes, feel free to get in touch. You can either call us on 01254 382 000 or send an email to, and we’ll get back to you with more information.