How to Choose the Pipes for your Bathroom


I have a confession, which by now shouldn’t seem too shocking, and that is this: Not everything runs perfectly in my home. Every time I’m in the kitchen and one of my children flushes the toilet upstairs, I hear the water rushing down the main drainpipe. It’s like fingernails on the chalkboard, and would have been easy to prevent had I only been there when the plumber was installing it. Though I have to live with this mistake, I’m going to explain the simple solution to make sure you don’t have the same problem.

Everyone wants plumbing that works well, but no one especially wants to hear about it. A flushing of the pipes, especially through a living room or near a guest room, can be cause for embarrassment. Whereas the toilet and sink do make noise while in operation, the really offending sounds are produced when wastewater flows through the main drainpipe down and out of the house. The waste spills through the pipe with a gigantic splash, similar to the sound of water plunging off the top of Niagara Falls, although far less scenic. The solution lies in the choice of material used for the drainpipe.

Bathroom Pipes

Ordinarily, this pipe is made from PVC plastic, those thick white pipes familiar to anyone who has strolled through the aisles of a home improvement store. This is distinct from the similar-sounding but chemically different CPVC piping, which is used for water supply. The beauty of PVC pipe is that ifs sturdy, it will never leak, and it will do the job. Plus, ifs cheap and easy to work with, which is why people love it. A 10-foot section of drainpipe might cost $20, making this the material of choice for any builder who is mass-producing houses. The problem is, these pipes have all the acoustical integrity of a piece of paper. In fact, they almost seem to augment the sounds coming from within, as if it were some sort of septic echo chamber. This is what I hear in my kitchen in the morning, and this is what is eminently preventable.

A far better material for the main drainpipe is cast iron. This is the material first used when bathrooms moved indoors, and it makes the best choice today. Cast iron, which is distinct from the old, galvanized iron used as supply pipes, has an enormous density to it compared to the PVC piping. As a result, it contains the sounds within it to a huge degree. If you put your ear to the wall, you can hear a faint rush when this pipe is in use, but it is far from the conversation-stopping roar of the plastic pipes. True, cast-iron piping costs you somewhat more. A 10-foot section would, cost about $40, compared to $20 for the plastic version. Installation is also slightly more expensive, since it requires more skill to attach the fittings. The total extra charge might amount to $100, but this is worth every penny.

If you don’t use cast iron for this drainpipe, you can try to wrap the plastic pipe with ordinary Fiberglas insulation in an attempt to deaden the sound, but it doesn’t offer much protection. Believe me, I’ve tried it.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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