ABS vs. PVC Pipes: What’s the Difference?

Before starting any plumbing repairs and other related projects, it is important to understand the different kinds of pipes. It is also better to call a professional plumber for complicated plumbing problems. 

Most plumbers and homeowners prefer using plastic pipes for plumbing projects. Plastic pipes are lightweight, do not corrode or rust, and are cheaper than other pipes. Unlike metal pipes, plastic pipes also keep hot water hot and do not collect condensation. 

However, not all plastic pipes are the same. Two of the most popular types of plastic pipes are ABS and PVC. Read more to learn about the two of the most common types of lines and their differences. 

What’s the difference between ABS and PVC pipes? 

The main difference between ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) pipes is that the former has bisphenol A or BPA, and the latter doesn’t. BPA is often used in resins and plastics, which helps make durable and high-quality pipes. BPA is also present in other plastic materials, including food and water containers. 

While BPA is considered potentially risky to animal and human health, it is still regarded as safe in certain amounts as long as it complies with the US Food and Drug Administration. On the one hand, both pipes cost almost the same and are resistant to water and chemical degradation. 

However, some notable differences between ABS and PVC pipes are the following: 

  • ABS pipes are black, while PVC pipes are usually white. 
  • ABS pipes need special cement to connect them, while PVC has to be primed first before being cemented together. 
  • Unlike ABS pipes, PVC pipes are more flexible. Meanwhile, ABS pipes are more shock and impact-resistant than PVC pipes. 
  • PVC can muffle the sound of water flowing through the pipe system. 

What are ABS pipes used for? 

ABS pipes are a cheaper pipe alternative for copper and metal pipes and are commonly used for residential and commercial purposes. It is durable, does not break down easily, and can tolerate extreme temperatures. 

It does not dissolve, leak, rot, peel, and flake, making it a good choice for outdoor use. Plumbers also use it for vent, waste, and drain piping systems. ABS pipes are also commonly used as electrical insulation and sewer systems. 

What are PVC pipes used for? 

Meanwhile, PVC pipes are also used for residential and commercial purposes and are great for every user, professional and DIYers alike. It has different applications both for indoor and outdoor use. It is soundproof, and you won’t hear the water flowing through the pipes. PVC pipes are also used for waste, vent, and drainage systems like ABS piping and insulation for electrical cables. 

Which is better: ABS or PVC pipes? 

There is no exact answer when choosing a better type of pipe. For one, both ABS and PVC can be used for commercial and residential piping systems. However, it is best to know the difference between the two, so you can choose one that suits your piping needs. 

For example, ABS pipes are better used underground and in other locations not directly exposed to sunlight. On the other hand, PVC is better used for indoor plumbing and is soundproof. Also, check your local building codes before buying pipes to prevent future hassles. Better also if you call a professional plumber in Mt. Pleasant, TN, for your piping installation and other plumbing needs. 


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