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Difference Between Black and Galvanized Pipe

Black vs Galvanized Pipe

Homes need gas and water in order to run comfortably. Gas provides heat and fire to cook food and we cannot live without water. Pipes are used to carry these essential materials into homes, buildings, and other construction projects to convey or carry gas and water to supply their needs. Two of the most widely used pipes are black pipe and galvanized pipe.

Black pipes are also called steel pipes and are used to carry water and gas from their sources to the end users. It is the pipe that is used by businesses and homes to convey their supply of natural or propane gas.

It is also used for fire sprinkler systems because of its strong resistance to heat. Heating and cooling water transferred to heat exchangers also use black pipe. It is usually joined by welding or by using mechanical couplings.

While it is used mainly for gas lines, it is also used to connect appliances to their supply lines. In drain lines, heating piping, and natural gas piping, black pipe is used. It can even be used instead of galvanized pipe in projects other than carrying water for drinking.

Galvanized pipe is a steel pipe which is covered with zinc. The zinc increases the pipes life expectancy and makes it more resistant to corrosion and mineral deposits in the line. It is a plumbing material that is used in water supply lines and has been used in homes for more than 30 years.

It cannot be used for gas lines because the zinc can clog the lines when it begins to flake, but it has many other uses. It can also be used in outdoor railings, scaffolding, fence, sewage plumbing, and farm irrigation and it is best used for bigger construction projects and has a life expectancy of 40 years.

Although the zinc that coats galvanized pipe can prevent corrosion, it corrodes quicker than copper or PVC pipes. Aside from this, it contains lead which can be harmful. It is also more expensive than black pipe. The flaking of the zinc in galvanized pipes can cause pipes to burst.

While there are now safer and stronger pipes made from materials other than steel, black pipes and galvanized pipes are still very popular and are being used in homes and buildings.

The thing to remember is to use them according to the specifications of the project and to use only one type of pipe in conveying water or gas to your homes. It is not advised to combine two types of piping material.

1. Black pipe is made of steel as is galvanized pipe. The difference is that galvanized pipe is coated with zinc, while black pipe is not.
2. Black pipe is best used for gas lines, not for water lines because it rusts easily, while galvanized pipe is the safer pipe to use in water lines, but it cannot be used to convey gas.
3. Black pipe is cheaper than galvanized pipe because of the zinc that is added to galvanized pipe.

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  1. Regarding Galvanized pipe not being allowed for gas, can you cite the IFGC regulation dis-allowing Galvanized for gas? I have been through the standards and cannot find anything. Maybe I am looking in the wrong section.

    Thank you.

    • It probably is not a regulation that states that you can not use galvanized pipe for gas but as a maintenance person I know and as it states in the article the zinc coating on galvanized piping tends to flake off and clog the lines so it is a better common practice to use black pipe for gas lines allowing a longer life from your gas lines.

    • Actually, The ASTM standards cited in 403.4.2 (1, 2, & 3) are for either black pipe or galvanized. The code goes on to mention that for buried pipe a galvanized coating is not considered protection from corrosive materials (404.11) while it states that black and galvanized pipe are not required to be protected from penetrations in lite framed construction otherwise known as wooden framed structures (404.7 [exception]).

      If the quality of the galvanized coating was of such inferior quality that it flaked off the pipe was not manufactured to meet any of the three standards specified in the IFGC, NFPA 54, or the UPC/UMC.

      Unless your jurisdiction has made a code amendment or deletion galvanized steel pipe is acceptable for use in a structure, above ground, not in contact (without protection) with corrosive materials.

  2. Don’t know about the documents you are looking for but if there is the type of corrosion as they say those little bits can fleck off and clog the furnace gas line just before they get to the venturi tubes which you probably already know would lead to a very costly HVAC bill.

  3. If I have copper pipes and I am changing from propane to natural gas, why do my pipes have to be replaced with black pipes?

    • You don’t have to but if you want a longer life out of your pipes and easier maintenance I would change. My job is maintenance at a meat packing facility and I have seen it all so basically to sum up your answer you do not HAVE to but it is recommended because the copper pipes corrode faster than the black pipe.

    • Not sure what the last reply was all about copper will last forever carrying gas, you have to change because propane is supplied at a high pressure and was likely run in 3/8 piping. NG is only supplied at 7psi and will require larger 3/4 to 1 inch pipe to meet your homes gas demand.

    • If you have existing copper lines for your LPG and you are converting to Natural Gas you may need to change because the size needed to move the same number of BTU’s. Assuming the same pressure and pressure drop for copper pipe, natural gas will produce 40% less BTU’s than your existing propane distribution system, if you were consult the gas sizing tables in the IFGC. See 402.4(31) vs. 402.4(1). That could be enough to require replacement and resizing for conversion to natural gas.

      The IFGC considers Copper Pipe a suitable material in section 403.4.3 as long as the natural gas conveyed contains less than .3 gr./100 cf HS2. You may need to speak with your Natural Gas supplier and your local building official about the specifications for delivered natural gas in your area.

  4. In the United States, galvanized pipe can be used for gas lines, unless the AHJ objects. Since the code, is the bare minimum, it would not necessarily list it as a method as black pipe is the bare minimum. While some people will rationalize not using it. The code does not preclude its use.

    • Each estate have codes regulations but before you go through the people need understand and read the manufacture requirements installation to install the appliances ( pool heater ,AC , etc)
      Otherwise the guarantee will be avoid and won’t cover for any malfunction producing for the wrong iinstation , keep it in mind people they don’t like ready because they assumed everything is correct but the reality is different I came every day fix it issues because the person who installed some pool heaters they follow theirs criteria and avoid the manufacture requirements!!
      Keep it in mind !!
      Best regards

  5. I want to make a popular shelf in my house out of black/half pipe. I overheard a box store worker say the pipe is dangerous to handle and can’t believe no one has warned the public. Once built, it won’t be touched. I am considering adding a towel bar to the bottom shelf. Is it safe to use for this purpose?

    • That’s black or galvanized pipe. Not black/half….

    • Black galvanized pipe or as most people just call it black pipe is not a dangerous pipe it can be dangerous if you don’t keep in mind the ends that could have metal shavings protruding out that could cut you other than that it is safe to handle.

  6. Hello!
    I want to build calisthenics park.
    Do you think galvanized pipe it’s strong enough.

    exemple 10 feet long x 2 inches diameter.
    2 guys 200 punds each guy so 400 pounds both and working out doing pull ups at the same time.

    Do you think it’s safe?
    What do you recommend in that case.

    Thank you very much for sharing with us

    I wish you a good life be blessed.

  7. Our kitchen pipes froze up (its -27° here right now). Aafter running a small heater for 12 hours the faucet is now running but the drain is frozen. We used a small plunger to see if the water would move. But what happened was some small black pieces of something came up then the water in the sink turned black. Could this be because of the drain pipe is steel? Has anyone seen this before?

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