Water Pipes

Expert Technicians at Eric’s Plumbing are ready to help. Responsive. Reliable. Trusted.
Expert Technicians at Eric’s Plumbing are ready to help. Responsive. Reliable. Trusted.

What Kind of Water Pipes do I have In My Home?

This, of course, depends on the age of your home. Here’s some general guidance:

  • Early 1900 – 1970’s: Galvanized pipe
  • 1970's – 2000: mostly copper, some polybutylene and PEX
  • 2000 – current: PEX or CPVC, with a small amount of polybutylene


If your home was built before the 1970's, then galvanized steel pipes were generally used. We still see galvanized water pipes in some homes in the early 80's depending on the plumber. Some plumbers like to stick with a certain type of pipe they are used to, and sometimes for good reasons which we’ll talk about later. Galvanized pipes are silver in appearance, and they needed to be threaded together (like a screw and nut).

Be careful if you are cutting old pipes out on your own. Natural gas pipe looks very similar to galvanized but is black steel pipe. Some old, galvanized pipe can also look black due to age and dirt. So don't get too carried away cutting pipe unless you are 100% sure. We recommend that you check with us first before taking any chances.


In the 70's to the early 2000's, copper became the number one choice for plumbers. Copper is much easier to work and install than galvanized pipe. Copper also doesn't have the draw backs of corrosion which can plug or collapse galvanized pipes sometimes even after a short period of time. Copper piping is lighter, easier to cut, easier to connect and more cost effective. Copper pipes are connected by using a fitting like a tee or an elbow, prepping it, heating it up several hundred degrees, and either soldering or braising the joint together (a little bit like welding). 

Copper is still used today in some custom homes and commercial business, but now we have another option to connect the pipe to the joints with copper. Rather than soldering, copper pipes can be connected with special fittings pressed on to the pipe by a special press tool. 


ProPress joints are a time saver, allow accessibility, eliminate the use of fire or heat, and are very secure. ProPress fittings should not be confused with the typical push on fitting that you find at your local home improvement store. Those type of fittings are not used by professionals. 

Copper pipe can be identified by its color. It is a metal pipe and looks like, well…you guessed it, copper - the same color as a penny.


Polybutylene, as one of the newer products, seemed to have some great benefits over copper. Polybutylene was manufactured from the late 70's to 1997 before being banned from use in residential construction in 2005. Polybutylene is a flexible, grey pipe like the look and feel of newer PEX pipe (discussed next). It was a lightweight flexible, plastic, grey pipe, sometimes with a blue or red stripe. 

Polybutylene’s use collapsed in a multi-billion-dollar class action lawsuit as the pipe and fittings failed in an unusually short time, often with catastrophic consequences. While the use of polybutylene piping was banned in 2005, there are still plenty of homes with polybutylene still in them. While it has failed at a high rate, many homes have never had a problem. (Most real estate agents require the seller to disclose the use of polybutylene pipes in the property.)

If you have this pipe in your home, having it inspected yearly by Eric’s Plumbing & Drain could save you thousands in water damage.


CPVC is a plastic like your typical white plastic (PVC) sprinkler pipes but is made for hot water and indoor use. It is a light yellow or cream color. (Orange for fire sprinklers.) It may look the same size as PVC, but it is not. CPVC has been in Utah County and Salt Lake County homes starting in the early 2000's to now. 


PEX pipe, like polybutylene, is a flexible piping, but without the failure rate of polybutylene. PEX has a long history and has established itself as a durable and quality piping. Usually, if there are any failures for this type of pipe, they are due to improper installation. If your home was built in the late 90's up until now, it is most likely going to be PEX. PEX can be white, red, blue, or grey and some brands use an almost clear white. Red PEX for hot water, blue for cold water, and white and gray can be used for either temperature. PEX pipe is flexible, light weight, easy to install and can last up to 50 years or more. 


Give us a call, we'll get you scheduled!

We care about you and want to help assist you in all your plumbing needs.

Give us a call at (801) 852-5651, we will get you scheduled!

We care about you and want to help assist you in all your plumbing needs.

How to discover what pipe you have when it is covered by sheetrock?

If all the plumbing in the home is covered by sheet rock, don't worry, you can still identify what type of pipe it is. There should be 1-3 areas exposed enough to identify the type of pipe in your home.

The Utility Room - Where your water heater is located is a good place to take a look.  The cold water comes into the water heater, and then from there the hot water is taken away from the room. The piping on top of the water heater (if it has not been updated) should give you a good idea. 

Inside a Basement - The water main will come into the home (that is where the inside shut off is) usually through the basement. The type of pipe entering the home through the wall will be the clue. In some circumstances the pipe coming into the home is galvanized and then transitions to copper. That is because water main lines from the water meter remained galvanized for many years after copper became the new piping material. 

If the pipe is painted, you can scrape the pipe with a knife (do not cut). If it is silver, it is galvanized. If it is copper, like a penny, then it is, of course, copper. Grey plastic would be polybutylene, and white, blue, red, or clear plastic would be PEX.

Crawlspace – If you have a crawlspace, this is the easiest place to see the exposed pipes. 

Where do pipe leaks occur?

The most common area for leaks is in the joints. If you have a recirculating line for your water heater, they may occur anywhere along the pipe in a copper system.  Pipes can have many things go wrong with them. Sometimes, pipes have been installed incorrectly. Over time, leaks begin due to bad soldering/sealing, loose crimp rings, and many others. If you are having issues with your pipes, this could be why.

What Can Go Wrong with Pipes?

If your pipes have been correctly installed, there are still other problems that can occur.

The most common thing is plugging and leaks due to age in galvanized pipes. Also, pipes can become plugged most often due to mineral deposits/buildups, or debris getting into the water system from the city or elsewhere.

Leaking, as noted above, is also another common pipe problem. The #1 reason for leaks is high water pressure. Leaking can also be caused by wear and tear, loose nuts, holes, hard water, and age. The best thing to do with a leak is to call “Your Personal Plumber” at Eric's Plumbing & Drain Cleaning to find out what can be done to fix it. Small leaks can turn into floods. 

You do not, by any means, want this to happen to you! Houses have been destroyed by small leaks that eventually flood. Pipes naturally corrode or erode over time. You want to replace your pipes before this happens. It is recommended you have your pipes checked at least once every year. Keep tabs on how your pipes are holding up. If you are unsure how good of shape your pipes are in, give us a call. We can help you determine the life left in your pipes.

Should I re-pipe my home? Is it a good option and what does that look like? 

Let's make this simple. There are thousands of homes in Utah County and Salt Lake County, built from pioneer day to now. Usually, if the plumbing has been installed properly, anything after 2005 should be a trustworthy pipe. Anything before 2005, probably needs an inspection and home evaluation. 

When you call Eric's Plumbing & Drain Cleaning, we will set up a time that works for you. Our whole-home evaluation will give you a clear picture of the status, risks, and quality of your pipes, drains, and systems.

We will give you the best options and best experience. We’ll be transparent and straight with you. Ask to see our “Straight Forward Pricing Guide”. Call us today if you are experiencing drain issues. 

We want to be “Your Personal Plumbers”!