You’ve probably heard the saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” The same rings true for water pipes.
Just because a pipe looks like it can handle the job doesn’t mean that it is the right pipe for the job.
Underground pipes are prone to accidental damage from construction and vehicular traffic. This is in addition to the unforgiving underground environment that can quickly corrode metal pipes.
This guide will discuss what type of pipe to use for your underground water line and why.
We will also provide information on some of the most common pipes used for underground water lines.
So, whether you are a business owner who needs to install a new water line or a homeowner who wants to replace an old one, this guide is for you.
Types of Underground Water Pipes
Underground water pipes come in a variety of materials, including PVC, metal, and concrete.
While each material has its benefits and drawbacks, PVC and CPVC are often the best options for most applications.
Nevertheless, PVC is the better choice due to its lower cost and versatility.
1. PVC Pipe
PVC pipe is made from polyvinyl chloride, a durable plastic resistant to corrosion and impact damage. It also has a high melting point, ideal for underground applications.
PVC pipes are available in various diameters, making them versatile for commercial and residential applications.
One downside to PVC pipe is that it can be susceptible to UV degradation. This effect can cause the pipe to become brittle and crack over time.
However, you can mitigate this by using a UV-resistant coating on the pipe.
2. CPVC Pipe
Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) is a PVC pipe specifically designed for underground use.
It is made from thicker and more durable plastic than standard PVC, making it resistant to impact damage, high temperatures, and corrosion.
CPVC is common in manufactured homes and is a good choice for applications that require a high degree of durability.
One downside to CPVC pipe is that it is more expensive than standard PVC.
However, the increased durability and resistance to corrosion make it a better option for underground applications.
3. Metal Pipe
These pipes are made from various metals, including copper, steel, and aluminum.
They are resistant to corrosion and impact damage, making them ideal for heavy pipe water flow underground applications.
This is especially true for copper, which is known for its high level of corrosion resistance.
One downside to metal pipes is that they are susceptible to galvanic corrosion.
This can occur when two different types of metal come in contact, resulting in the rapid degradation of one or both metals.
While this can be a problem in some applications, it can be mitigated by using a dielectric coupling or fitting.
4. Concrete Pipe
Concrete pipes are made from a mixture of sand, gravel, and cement. They are durable and resistant to both corrosion and impact damage.
Concrete pipes come in handy in applications where the pipe needs relocation later.
One downside to concrete pipes is that they are not resistant to UV degradation. This can cause the pipe to crack and crumble over time.
However, you can mitigate this by keeping them deeper in the soil.
5. PEX Tubing
PEX tubing is a type of plastic tubing made from cross-linked polyethylene. This flexible tubing material can easily bend and turn to fit in tight spaces without kinking.
It is resistant to corrosion, impact damage, chemical damage, and high temperatures, making it a good choice for underground applications.
One downside to PEX tubing is that it may not be as durable as other materials listed here.
Nevertheless, its flexibility and resistance to various types of damage make it a good choice for many underground applications.
Factors you need to consider when choosing an underground water pipe
Choosing the right underground pipe calls for a thorough review and research.
While it may be tempting to choose the first pipe that comes to mind, it is important to consider all of your options before deciding.
The following are some notable factors to consider when choosing an underground water pipe:
The type of soil in your area
Different regions have different types of soil, each with its own unique set of characteristics.
Soil type will affect the type of pipe you can use in your area because some pipes are more resistant to certain soil types than others.
For instance, regions with clay soil will not be a good fit for metal pipes because the clay will cause the pipe to corrode easily.
In this case, a concrete pipe would be a better option.
The climate conditions in your area
Climate matters when choosing your pipe type because it will dictate how much water your area receives regularly.
If you live in an arid region, you will not need as large a pipe as someone who lives in a humid region. Climate also affects the type of pipe material you should use.
For example, PEX tubing is good for cold climates because it does not freeze as easily as metal or concrete pipes.
The terrain in your area
The terrain of your area will also play a role in the type of pipe you choose.
For instance, if you have a lot of hills and valleys in your backyard, you will need to use a pipe that is resistant to impacts.
If you have many trees, you will need to use a pipe that is resistant to chemical damage.
The weight of the pipe
While not a huge consideration, the weight of the pipe still matters in terms of portability. This is especially in cases where the pipe needs to be lifted and moved manually.
You want to avoid using a pipe that is too heavy, as it will be difficult to handle.
The size of the pipe
Size matters most in cases where there are many appliances drawing water from the same line. In these cases, you will need a larger pipe to accommodate water flow.
However, a smaller pipe will do if you only use the pipe for outdoor purposes.
The type of coupling or fitting used
Couplings and fittings are what connect your underground water pipe to the faucet in your house.
There are many heavy pipe couplings and fittings on the market, so it is important to choose one compatible with your pipe type.
Ask your local hardware store for help if you are unsure about your choices.
The installation process
Some pipes are easier to install than others. So, if you are not comfortable doing DIY projects, you may want to choose a pipe that is easy to install.
Usually, the easier the installation, the higher the price tag.
What are some common underground water pipe materials?
Common underground pipe types include steel, PVC, cast-iron, copper, and clay. Concrete pipes are also popular in some areas.
These all have different pros and cons depending on the area where they are used.
Is an underground water pipe a difficult DIY project?
Underground water pipes are usually difficult DIY projects that require you to have some knowledge of pipe types and installation.
If you do not have this knowledge, it is best to hire a professional plumber who can install the pipes for you.
How much does an underground water pipe cost?
Underground water pipes usually cost between $75 and $200, depending on the type of pipe you use.
Concrete pipes are the most expensive option, while metal and PVC are less expensive.
An underground pipe is not something to gamble with. You want to get one that will be reliable for years to come.
While some factors may be beyond your control, taking your time to research all of your options is the best way to make a decision you will not regret.
Do not shy away from asking for help from your local hardware store or any plumbing professional. You will be surprised at how much knowledge they have to share.