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Different Types of Drains and Pipes

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Different Types of Drains and Pipes

Nobody thinks about their pipes until a problem starts to surface. But knowing which types of pipes are in your home is the first step to resolving an issue.

Know your clay from your copper? Your galvanised steel from your corrugated Polyethylene? Discover all the different types of drains and pipes and find out which ones are in your walls.

Grey PVC drain pipes

Different shapes of pipe

Pipes don’t just come in different materials, they also come in different shapes (and sizes!). Most people think of pipes as smooth and cylindrical, but this isn’t always the case.

Smooth pipes

Smooth pipes are the most common shape of pipe. Their smooth body allows water to flow through them easily, making them one of the most useful and effective types of pipes for plumbing.

But despite their prevalence, smooth pipes can be challenging to install. They are also inflexible, so aren’t always the best choice for applications that require support for large, relative motions.

Corrugated pipe

A corrugated pipe is a flexible tube with a series of parallel ridges. Corrugated pipes aren’t the most effective at accommodating water, but they are the cheapest and easiest to install.

Different pipe materials


Back in the day, pipes were almost universally made from some form of metal. Today, plastic pipes are most commonly used in homes.

PVC, also known as Polyvinyl Chloride, is seemingly unaffected by most chemicals, making it extremely durable and a perfect material for pipes.

PVC pipes are lightweight, flame resistant and easy to assemble (they can be put together with glue!). The only disadvantage is that they aren’t flexible, so can’t be bent into a desired shape.

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene is highly resistant to chemicals and harsh weathering. It is often corrugated, allowing the pipe to be bent into a desired shape.


Copper is one of the most common metals used in pipes. It is slightly more expensive than plastic but less expensive than steel. Copper pipes are lightweight and can be made to be rigid or flexible.

Unfortunately, copper pipes can burst if the water in them freezes, so are typically a less popular choice than plastic alternatives.

Galvanised Steel

If you live in an older property, you may have pipes made of steel. They were commonly used in the 1900s but have largely been phased out due the range of issues they presented such as leaks and discolouration.

Cast iron

Another one to look out for in an older home, cast iron pipes were popular choices for sewage systems. They were seen as robust and durable, but would unfortunately rust over time, making them inferior to plastic alternatives.


Clay is favoured for being an environmentally friendly material, but it’s not the most durable. Clay pipes will develop cracks over time and will need to be replaced regularly to maintain good flow.

If problems with your pipes are starting to surface, call in in the experts. Power Rod are drainage specialists, providing a range of domestic and commercial drainage services to customers across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, including Watford and Aylesbury. Through our CCTV drain surveys, we can find exactly what’s wrong with your pipes and construct a cost-efficient and effective solution.

Don’t leave your drain problems to get worse — contact the Power Rod team today.

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