Steel Pipe vs Plastic Pipe in South Africa

The ongoing debate of steel pipe versus plastic pipe in plumbing generally comes down to cost versus practicality and longevity. What are the best choices for our plumbing systems in South Africa, bearing in mind our climate and infrastructure?

We never want to pay over the odds for a product or service. After all, if Product A can do the job just as well as Product B, then why pay more? In the field of plumbing, however, it’s not just about cost.

Our plumbing infrastructure does not always differentiate between the water which flushes our toilets and the water piped into our kitchens for drinking. The pipes that we choose to carry our water, therefore, need to do so in the healthiest way possible.

Lead pipes and solder are certainly a thing of the past, so we needn’t worry about lead poisoning anymore.

Plastic pipes in plumbing

Plastic pipes made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) or cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) are commonly used in plumbing, being lightweight and easy to work with. Joining is simple and done with clamps or mechanical couplings. However, PVC piping can’t withstand high temperatures so should not be used to carry hot water as the plastic will degrade.

CPVC has a better heat resistance and is just as easy to install and work with as its PVC counterpart. It is safe to carry drinking water and is well insulated which makes it an excellent choice.

The next step up from CPVC is PEX tubing which is often used for hot water heating systems and drinking water. PEX is a flexible and durable product with excellent temperature resistance.

Metal pipes in plumbing

Up until the emergence of hard-wearing plastics, plumbing pipes were made from copper, cast iron or brass, and while they did an excellent job, they tended to degrade over time.

Steel, however, leads the way as a strong, durable and versatile piping material. Galvanised steel pipe (those treated with a protective zinc coating) offer rust-free, healthy and long-lasting option.

Steel pipes are heat and corrosion-resistant, easy to fabricate and easy to maintain.

Once again, steel steals the show.

Would you like to know more? Chat to the Steelmor team today.