Taking on any sort of underground plumbing project may feel overwhelming. One of the many causes of confusion is the fact there are a wide variety of tube and pipe options available.
You may wonder which type of piping is best for your water line repair. This isn’t helped by the fact that even the different types of pipe look really similar.
In order to help you better understand where you should start, we’re going to break down some of the most popular types of plumbing piping used for underground water supplies. We’ll also explain what each type of pipe and plumbing fixture is made from and what they’re best used for.
After you understand how the various types of pipes differ, you’ll find our reviews, which will help you get the best pipes and tools for an underground water supply line. Hopefully this will make the job a little bit more straightforward.
Different Types of Plumbing Pipes for Underground Water Supplies
Almost every home has an underground plumbing system to control the flow of water. This piping system is critical and is what supplies your home with water for its sinks, showers, toilets, washing machine, and much more. Obviously, these pipes are incredibly important if you want your home to run smoothly.
The fact these pipes are almost always buried underground makes it that much more important that they be durable and can withstand the test of time.
To have a potable water that’s safe to use, it’s important that you choose the correct plumbing pipe material.
An underground water supply system that doesn’t have the correct type of piping can result in dangerous leaks. Leaky pipes don’t just cause higher water bills; they can actually compromise the entire foundation of your home.
Below you’ll find a description of each type of pipe and some information on when they should be used.
PVC pipes are undoubtedly the most common type of pipe you’ll find in residential homes.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping is affordable and versatile. These pipes come in a wide variety of sizes and you can easily find the fitting needed to create a complete plumbing network.
Besides affordability, another reason why PVC is so common in underground water supply networks is the fact that it works great for both warm and cold water applications.
Unlike metal pipes, PVC pipes won’t rust or corrode over time, which makes them perfect for underground water pipes that are difficult to access.
These are a popular choice among professionals and amateurs because they’re easy to work with. They require no welding or metalwork and any cutting mistakes aren’t overly expensive to correct.
Despite the low cost, PVC pipes are impressively durable and won’t bend under regular amounts of pressure. This is why they’re such a popular choice for underground water that’s pressurized.
One of the main drawbacks of PVC piping is its inability to withstand the temperatures necessary to supply hot water. This is because PVC is susceptible to warping when exposed to really high temperatures.
However, this is usually not an issue with underground water supply plumbing and only really impacts indoor plumbing.
PVC is so well suited to underground water supply applications that it’s often favored over other types of piping for main water supply running to homes.
Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipes, or CPVC pipes, are essentially PVC pipes that have had extra chlorine added during their manufacture.
They have all the same benefits you get with PVC piping, but have added durability, which make them a preferred choice for high-pressure underground water systems.
CPVC pipes can also withstand higher temperatures, which make them more suited for underground pipes that carry hot water. The added durability does come with a downside—CPVC pipes tend to be a little more expensive than standard PVC pipes.
Much like PVC pipes, CPVC pipes are more flexible than metal pipes and tend to have smoother interiors. This makes it a somewhat more versatile than other types of piping, as it won’t bend and split in the same way.
Copper piping has long remained a staple of underground piping. Its lasting popularity has a lot to do with the fact that it has a long lifespan and a reasonable level of durability.
Copper piping also tolerates heat really well and is much more corrosion resistant than pipes that are made from other types of metal. It won’t degrade over time either, which makes it is a safe choice for potable water supplies.
The main issue with copper piping is the high price tag. It’s one of the most expensive types of piping you can buy, so it is becoming less popular as more affordable materials gain higher market share.
Nevertheless, copper piping works well for underground water supply networks and is a durable choice.
PEX piping is relatively new and is quickly becoming popular. PEX piping is extremely flexible, which means it’s easy to work with, especially when installing underground pipes underneath an existing home.
It requires no glue and can hold up extremely well in cold conditions, which are helpful attributes for underground supply pipes. The fact that the material can withstand temperatures that drop below zero degrees means it’s the perfect underground piping solution for homes that are located in colder climates.
PEX piping can even be spliced into existing pipe networks, so older pipes can have bursts repaired using a segment of PEX pipe.
This makes it useful for expansion projects, such as a homeowner wanting to expand their underground water system to a new washroom or home extension.
More often than not, you’ll find PEX pipes retrofitted into an older home, but it’s becoming increasingly popular for use with underground water supply networks.
Galvanized piping is a type of steel or iron piping that’s been treated with a zinc coating to help prevent rusting and corrosion.
It’s popular for water lines, as it won’t deteriorate over time and is much less expensive than copper piping.
Galvanized pipes are capable of lasting over 100 years, which as you probably already know, makes them ideal for underground applications.
Much like galvanized pipes, brass pipes are resistant to corrosion and heat damage, which makes them suitable for water lines. They can also be used for drinking water supply lines, so you wouldn’t have to worry about them contaminating your water.
Brass is becoming more of a vintage piping solution, especially as more affordable and lightweight materials become available. However, you could still lay an effective underground water supply network with brass pipes.
Which Pipes and Tools Should You Use?
Now that you know more about pipe options for your underground water supply, you’re probably wondering which type of piping is best.
If you’re unsure, you could first consult your local building codes, or speak with a local professional about which type of pipe he’d would recommend for your local area.
Underground water supply lines can be really expensive to repair and replace, so you’d want to make sure that you’ve chosen appropriate pipes for the job. Once you know which type of pipe you require, you might have a few questions about which manufacturers you can trust.
To make this process less confusing, we’ve highlighted what we consider to be high-quality pipes and tools to use for underground water supply networks.
Shark Bite – Flexible PEX Water Pipe – 300 Ft.
- Chlorine resistant
- Minimum temperature of 33 degrees F and a maximum of 200 degrees F.
- Flexible and freeze resistant
- Straightforward connection method for easy installation
- Made in the USA
Shark Bite is a reputable manufacturer of plumbing supplies for both residential and commercial applications.
The piping comes in convenient 300-foot rolls, which can be cut to size using an inexpensive PEX tube cutter. The pipes can be connected without glue or other solvents, which ensures your water supply system is safe and free of harmful chemicals.
The piping is designed to be versatile, so it can be installed in both wet and dry conditions. The smooth interior of the piping means there’s no concern that you’ll hear excessive noise as water flows through it.
The piping is available in three colors, which is helpful when you’re laying separate lines for cold and hot water, but believe you might forget which is which down the line.
Overall, this is a safe, affordable, and convenient type of tubing.
iCRIMP – IWS – 1632AF Copper Pipe Fitting Tool
- 360-degree rotating head and extendable handles for increased leverage
- Creates leak free connections within seconds and with little effort
- Quickly change the jaws for different sized pipes
This crimping tool is perfect for making seamless connections between copper pipes. If you’re using a copper pipe for your underground water supply, this useful tool can come in handy.
The 360-degree swivelling head allows you to connect the pipes in tight spaces, which is perfect for working with underground piping. It comes with slip-proof, rubberized handle grips, which makes it much safer to work with in damp conditions.
The last thing you want with underground piping is leaks, so it’s worth investing in a tool that’ll ensure all your connections are properly sealed. Normally you would have to solder or flare the connecting pipes to get such a leak-free connection.
ICOOL – 3 In 1 Metal Pipe Bending Tool
- Choose any angle from 0 to 180 degrees to cleanly bend pipes
- Compatible with copper, brass, and stainless steel pipes
- Will not dent or split your metal pipes during the bending process
- Ergonomic frame and grips are comfortable and safe to use
If you’re installing any sort of metal piping as part of your underground water supply system, you’ll want to invest in a good pipe bending tool. Whenever you bend a metal pipe, you risk splitting and weakening the metal itself.
This can cause serious problems down the line if an underground pipe ever bursts, so you’ll want to use a tool that can do it properly.
The tool is straightforward to use and allows you to work with various sizes of metal piping. It’s made from a durable, yet lightweight aluminium alloy.
Not only is this a way to bend tubes without damaging them, it’s much safer for the user than less sophisticated ways of bending metal pipes.
Remember, buried water lines need to be durable and resistant to moisture and pressure. For instance, there’s a risk that an underground pipe might be hit with an accidental shovel blow if you ever decide to do major renovation work on your property, such as septic tank maintenance.
Longevity is important with any sort of underground water supply system, so make sure to speak with a trusted professional to understand your best options.
Just because a certain pipe material works well for plumbing jobs inside the home, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be a suitable choice for an underground water supply system.
Again, if you have any questions, reach out to a professional plumber or consult your local building codes.