ABS vs PVC Piping – Which Is Best for a Drain Line?

Plumbing systems and drain lines use two common types of pipelines—Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). While ABS and PVC share some common qualities, several key characteristics differentiate the two piping materials.

Hero Trust Badges - M48555 - Drain and Water.png

Safety and Durability: Choosing Between ABS Piping and PVC Pipes

Unlike ABS, PVC piping contains bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that has been used to formulate certain plastics and resins since the 1950s. PVC contains no BPA, which creates added durability, something that’s particularly important for buried pipe lines.

Debate has ensued over the potential health risks of BPA to humans and animals, and some consumers try to avoid BPA. The material is widely used for food packaging, however, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has certified BPA’s safety in low levels, even in food.

PVC pipe is more flexible than ABS, while ABS is stronger and resists shocks and impacts, a quality that’s useful here in earthquake country. Additionally, PVC muffles the sound of flowing water better, providing a quieter plumbing experience at homes and commercial properties where it is installed.

The Choice Is Black and White

The piping can typically be identified by color. ABS is black while PVC is generally white or a light color. The two types of pipe are similarly priced, long lasting and perform well underground.

ABS piping is a cost-effective solution for commercial and residential plumbing. Unlike cast iron or galvanized pipes, It won’t degrade and leak over time. It’s an optimal choice for outside and underground applications, where it isn’t in direct sunlight, and plumbers generally select it for drain and waste systems.


ABS pipes

underground plumbing


PVC pipes

for indoor plumbing

PVC Pipes In Homes and Businesses

In homes and business, lightweight PVC pipes are frequently used for above-ground applications. It’s preferred for interior use because it’s soundproof, so you won’t hear the water flow through the piping system.

Regular schedule 40 PVC pipe is ideals for drains and wastewater. It’s versatile and durable option for professionals and DIYers alike.

building code pipe.jpg

Building Codes for PVC and ABS Pipes

Be sure that to check building codes before deciding which pipe to use. Local building codes may dictate the type of piping that must be used for certain types of plumbing jobs.

A qualified plumbing contractor and drain line specialist like Drain&Water can consult with you on the choice of piping materials and handle any permits and approvals needed for replacing an aging drain line with a modern polymer like ABS.

In Conclusion

ABS is better suited for outdoor underground use as it is stronger and resists shock and impact. PVC is better suited for indoor and above ground plumbing as it is quieter as water flows through it and it doesn’t warp in direct sunlight.

If you need help deciding which piping is best for a drain line, give us a call. We are happy to help with your plumbing in any way we can.

Call Us : 408-564-0580

What our customers are saying


I’ve worked with Drain&Water in business to business relations. I can say they are great to work with, always easy to reach, responsive, and responsible.

Brian K – Sacramento CA


I used their service for replacing main sewer line. It was a pleasant experience from beginning to the end. The price was reasonable. I recommend them if you need their service.

Frank S – Milpitas CA


Excellent service! Drain&Water is very responsive to email and phone calls. Drain&Water came out and inspected our sewer pipe system, showed us the problems and gave us an estimate all in the same day.

Ramon L – Milpitas CA

Ready to get started?

give us a call today!