Polvinyl chloride, or PVC, typically applies to landscape and agricultural irrigation projects. Aside from length, PVC pipes vary in wall thickness and diameter. Manufacturers use the term "schedule" to refer to PVC pipe's thickness, such as schedule 10 or schedule 40; higher numbers correspond to thicker walls. Additionally, standard PVC pipes range in diameter from 1/2 inch to 6 inches or greater. For residential landscape irrigation, plumbers commonly use pipe between 1/2 inch and 1 inch in diameter.
Like PVC pipes, copper supply lines vary according to wall thickness and diameter. Copper pipe manufacturers designate copper pipes' wall thickness by an identifying letter. For example, type K copper tube has a relatively thick wall and type M has a relatively thin wall. Copper plumbing pipe is available in diameters as large as 6 inches. However, for residential water supply applications, plumbers typically use pipe that between 1/2 inch to 2 inches in diameter.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, is a plastic pipe primarily applied to residential drain, waste and vent systems. Usually black, ABS pipe must carry rushing drain and waste water to septic or sewer systems. To handle the sudden bursts of activity, ABS pipe is significantly larger in diameter than water supply pipes. Depending upon plumbing code requirements, ABS drain pipes range from 1 1/2 inches in diameter to approximately 8 inches in diameter. The ABS available for residential plumbing is typically has a schedule 40 wall thickness.
Cast Iron Pipe
A common alternative to ABS, cast iron drain pipes are heavy and durable. Plumbers can use cast iron for all facets of a drain system, include grey water, waste water and vent stacks. As with ABS, cast iron pipe is available in a broad range of diameters. Common cast iron pipe sizes for residential applications include diameters between 1 1/2 inches and 6 inches.