Plastic pipes have become the backbone of modern plumbing, offering an array of benefits such as cost-effectiveness, lightweight construction, and corrosion resistance. Among the plastic piping options, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) stand out as the most common choices, each with its own set of advantages. In this exploration, we’ll delve into the nuances that distinguish ABS and PVC piping, providing homeowners and plumbers with valuable insights into these essential materials.


Understanding the Essentials: ABS vs. PVC Pipes

While both ABS and PVC pipes share common attributes, such as being impervious to corrosion and adept at preserving water temperature, a crucial disparity sets them apart. ABS pipes incorporate Bisphenol A (BPA) in their composition, a chemical used to harden plastic. In contrast, PVC pipes are BPA-free. Although there is no conclusive evidence indicating harm to humans from BPA, concerns arising from animal studies spotlight potential risks to hormones, neurology, and cardiology. Notably, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to monitor and reassess BPA safety.

Before embarking on the choice between ABS and PVC, it’s essential to consider local regulations. Many municipalities prescribe specific pipe materials for drainage, sewage, and plumbing projects. Some codes leave the decision to plumbers and builders, while others mandate the use of one type over the other.


Comparing Strengths and Weaknesses

A visual cue separates ABS and PVC pipes—ABS pipes are black, while PVC pipes are white. However, the discerning plumber looks beyond aesthetics. PVC exhibits greater flexibility, while ABS boasts superior strength and shock resistance. ABS excels in frigid temperatures but may warp under direct sunlight exposure. PVC, on the other hand, is reputed for its ability to muffle the sound of running water. In terms of pricing, both types are generally comparable in most North American markets, with significant variations often attributed to shipping costs.


Getting Down to Work: ABS vs. PVC Installation

When it comes to installation, the dissimilarities between ABS and PVC become evident. ABS pipes streamline the process with a one-step connection using a specialized cement block. In contrast, working with PVC involves a two-step process. The pipe ends must first be treated with a purple primer before applying the cement. While the primer can be messy and time-consuming, ABS’s single-step approach can offset the extra labor, making it a potentially more cost-effective choice despite higher initial material costs.

In conclusion, the choice between ABS and PVC piping involves careful consideration of factors ranging from composition and color to flexibility and installation processes. As you embark on your plumbing project, weigh these differences with the assurance that both ABS and PVC have proven track records in delivering reliable and durable plumbing solutions.

If you need help or have more questions about which pipes would be best for your project, please feel free to reach out to Schlueter Plumbing, The No-Nonsense Plumber, at 513-771-7588 or visit us at

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