ABS vs PVC Piping
June 30, 2023 |

What is the difference between Abs and PVC Pipe?

Scientific research has led to a better understanding of the characteristics of ABS and the implications of using it. These discoveries have resulted in changes to plumbing codes throughout the U.S., including here in Pennsylvania where Horn provides both residential and commercial plumbing services. The topic has gained greater awareness among area homeowners and led to questions like “What is the difference between ABS and PVC pipe?”.

What Is PVC?

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. It’s a material used for a wide range of construction purposes because it’s durable, versatile, and relatively inexpensive. PVC piping is one of its most common applications and is used for residential and commercial plumbing and agricultural irrigation.

What Is ABS?

ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, and like PVC, it’s a plastic often used for piping that is employed for both plumbing and electrical purposes. Many people don’t know that ABS is a primary ingredient in LEGO bricks and is also used in the automotive industry and for computer keyboards.

PVC Piping vs. ABS Piping

The answer to “What is the difference between ABS and PVC pipe?” has changed over the years. Historically, ABS pipe has been a bit more expensive, but PVC pipe requires priming that makes installation more complicated, time intensive, and expensive. Another factor is that ABS piping contains a chemical called bisphenol A or BPA. BPA has health risks for humans. Therefore, plumbers would often use ABS piping for draining and venting and opt for PVC piping for water supply pipes.

As scientific understanding of these piping materials advanced, we learned that ABS pipe is less effective in firewall scenarios and that it could be prone to breaking down underground. Plumbing codes throughout the U.S. changed to reflect these findings. In Pennsylvania, you generally can’t use ABS piping underground anymore, and some municipalities have even more stringent limitations.

Should You Replace ABS Piping?

Many homeowners ask “What is the difference between ABS and PVC pipe?” because they want to know if they should spend the money to replace ABS piping. You should discuss that with your plumber, and here at Horn, we’d be happy to have that conversation with you. As a general rule, however, you only need to replace ABS piping if it was used inappropriately, such as for water supply. In addition, whenever you have a plumbing repair performed, any ABS piping should be replaced with PVC.

Horn Is Here to Help

Horn has been providing residential plumbing services to Pennsylvania homeowners for more than 40 years. We can inspect your home to determine if you have ABS piping and where it is and whether you should replace it. Our team also encourages you to call us at 610-363-4200 or contact us online if you have any further questions about “What is the difference between ABS and PVC pipe?” and how that affects your plumbing system.