Copper plumbing is used in most homes because it is less expensive and more durable than other materials such as iron or galvanized steel. Copper pipes are also more resistant to hot water and acid corrosion. Copper plumbing was used widely in the past but they were made from cast copper, which was very heavy and brittle.
Today, this material is obsolete because of the trend to use thin-wall copper tubing that is more flexible and thus easier to install. Copper pipes are also used for carrying drinking water and natural gas. Hot and cold water is delivered through copper pipes. Pipes for cold water are usually larger because they carry water that is more viscous, at colder temperatures.
On the other hand, hot-water copper pipes are smaller, for it carries more liquid and the water itself is hotter. Copper plumbing has some disadvantages compared to iron or steel pipes.
Why is Copper Plumbing Used?
Copper is a naturally anti-bacterial material, which means that it does not support the growth of bacteria. Copper has been one of the primary metals used for centuries to make copper piping and tubing. A major advantage was its resistance to water and very acid corrosion resistance. It supplied drinking water more reliably than any other metal. The increased use of copper plumbing occurred in the nineteenth century after advances in smelting techniques made large-scale production possible. In addition, lead piping was banned by most governments because of its poisonous properties, unlike copper pipes for plumbing.
What are Some Advantages of Using Copper Pipes for Water?
It is corrosion-resistant from hot water better than other types of plastic or steel pipes, with a minimum service life expectancy ranging from 50 to 100 years.
Copper piping is more reliable than other types of galvanized steel or plastic plumbing. This is because copper does not corrode easily, which makes it stand up well over time. Copper also resists damage due to the expansion and contraction that results from daily changes in water pressure better than other materials, such as iron or lead.
How Long May a Typical Copper-plumbing System Last?
A properly installed modern copper plumbing system can have a service life expectancy ranging from 50 to 100 years when used with good quality fittings and appropriate thermal insulation. A copper pipe can also last up to 100 years with proper handling and installation.
Well-made copper is very durable and the service life expectancy is generally more than 50-100 years under modern conditions. Most of the problems that develop in copper water piping systems are due to corrosion damage within inches of the end of a newly installed pipe, which is usually hidden and can not be seen. This is more likely to occur when copper piping is not properly installed on a concrete slab, allowing it to come into direct contact with moist earth or loose-fill insulation under the house.
What are Some Disadvantages of Using Copper?
Copper piping may be subject to “cupro-gallium disease”, which causes a blue/green powdery substance to form inside the pipe over time.
The cost of initial installation can be expensive since there are additional fittings required in comparison with other types of material such as iron, plastic, and steel tubes. However, this does not mean that it would endure long after removal or repair is necessary. It can cause problems with consumer acceptance of new installations.
In most homes, copper pipes for water, are buried only a few inches below the earth’s surface and therefore subject to a fairly high level of corrosion from chemicals dissolved in rainwater. If this is not taken into account during installation, the piping may need replacement within 50 years or less, causing considerable menu, which can lead to problems with the water supply.
Why is Copper is not Used for Plumbing Anymore?
In most countries, copper piping was replaced by plastic pipes for water supply after World War II due to the ease of handling and the lower initial costs associated with this type of non-conductive material. The advent of copper-clad plastic pipe systems in the 1960s further reduced the use of traditional metal piping. Plastic plumbing systems have a service life expectancy usually ranging from 25 to 50 years. Plastic tubes are also easily repairable, unlike copper which can potentially be completely replaced if damaged or corroded pipe joints need replacement. Another factor is that copper pipe systems were not installed as well as they could be, a situation especially common during the first few decades after their introduction. Copper plumbing life could have been significantly increased if it had been properly protected from corrosion at installation and later during repairs.
What Types of Plastics are Used for Modern Pipes?
Water supply systems made of plastic are composed mainly of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC). PVC is used for both hot and cold water lines. It is most commonly found in homes with crawl spaces, where it can easily be run under the concrete floor slab. CPVC is not normally used aboveground. It is used mostly for hot-water heating lines and in some cases may be substituted for copper in homes with concrete floor slabs.
It has increased the reliability of water systems, but there are still occasional problems. PVC piping can burn out when electricity is passed through it, which can result in water loss and possible property damage. Also, there are some general problems with plastic materials used for water supply. They are subject to corrosion from sunlight exposure and by chlorine in the water. UV radiation can cause staining of exterior walls and interior surfaces where sprinkler systems are installed, although the material has improved over the years. The most serious problem is due to stress-corrosion cracking, which causes small cracks at stress points such as inside elbows. Over time, these cracks can grow and result in leakage and property damage.
What are the Benefits of Using Plastic Water Pipes?
Plastic pipes are lightweight and easily workable compared to metals such as copper and iron. It is also less expensive than copper, so the installation is more economical. Another advantage of plastic is that it does not corrode, which means the actual operating cost of a home sewage system using plastic pipe may be lower than other types of material simply because there are no expenses for repair or replacement.
What are Some Disadvantages of Using Plastic?
Plastic piping deteriorates or becomes brittle over time because it does not have the ability to expand and contract with water pressure changes like metal piping. Plastic lines may also encourage hot water scalding, resulting in higher than normal risks of children being burned by accidentally turning on a hot water tap.
How Long May a Typical Plastic-plumbing System Last?
A properly installed modern plastic-plumbing system can have a service life expectancy ranging from 30to 50 years, a maximum of 70 years.
Are Plastic Pipes as Durable as Copper?
The plastic pipes that are well protected from the sun and chemical corrosion may perform as good as or better than metal. The best protection comes from the underground installation. Some types of plastic pipes, such as those used for gas lines, may also use protective coatings not normally found on standard plastic plumbing lines. This type of coating can provide several decades of additional life to a plastic-plumbing system.
What About Smart Technology Like Water Meters and Controllers?
Designs vary but most systems involve having sensors in place to measure water usage at individual taps and uses within the house, both inside and outside the home so that people are charged only for what they actually use. In addition, some systems have a controller that manages water supply based on a certain predetermined level of usage. Newer systems also measure chemical additives in the water and can provide alerts when chemicals need to be added or levels are low.
Galvanized Steel Plumbing Systems
This has been common in homes since the mid-1800s. Over time, galvanized piping was found to corrode and deteriorate, so many areas now require PVC water supply lines instead of steel. Galvanized steel is no longer used for new home building purposes. Galvanized pipes could be replaced with plastic plumbing pipes to reduce corrosion and other potential problems.
What About Government Standards?
Many governments around the world have established codes regarding the use of materials such as plastics in water delivery systems that may be followed by manufacturers and installers of these products. Local plumbers associations may also have additional requirements, especially if they are members who belong to a national organization such as the United Association (UA) or Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC NA).
What is the Best Material for a Home Sewage System?
The U.S. National Association of Home Builders states that copper piping is an excellent material, but it can also be used for plastic pipes and fittings. The most important issue to keep in mind is that the chosen water-carrying system could be properly installed by professionals who follow all local building codes and manufacturer instructions. This may help ensure a long service life with no plumbing problems.
What are Copper Pipes Used for?
Copper plumbing pipe has been used for centuries to supply water in homes and businesses. Copper piping is still the preferred choice for today’s home sewers because it retains its shape, does not rust or corrode, and can last for many years.
Cross-linking is a process in which the molecular structure of PVC plastic pipes and fittings has been modified by either injecting chemicals or increasing heat to create strong links between molecular chains. The process provides strength, durability, and resistance to the materials usually found in sewer systems.
Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) is a type of plastic tubing typically used for carrying hot and cold potable water to homes. PEX tubes have been found to perform well over a long service life when properly installed with all connectors following manufacturer specifications. Certain types of PEX can also be used where there is potential contact or leakage from chemicals such as chlorine bleach which easily corrodes stainless steel metal piping. PEX plumbing pipes are also resistant to damage from freezing temperatures.
Cross-linking changes the chemical structure of polyethylene making it stronger, more flexible, longer-lasting, and less susceptible to damage that can cause leakage or failure. The cross-linked molecules form strong links that help prevent brittleness during extreme temperature changes where water may freeze in winter months and expand when heated.
Is Copper More Reliable?
The durability of metal plumbing systems can help avoid costly repairs over time compared to plastic lines that are susceptible to damage from corrosion, leaks, scalding water burns, freezing weather conditions, physical impact from construction equipment moving overhead during new home builds, chemicals used for cleaning purposes within homes, or poor installation practices that can leave abnormal stress on different pipe joints causing them to crack.
As long as copper plumbing systems are properly installed and kept clean, they can be safe sources of potable water. The main danger associated with using copper piping is the danger of lead poisoning due to old fixtures or fittings that may contain lead solder or other materials containing high concentrations of lead. Any fixture with lead could be replaced if damaged, especially if the damage affects any part of the water-carrying system where water flows through it.
Are Copper Pipes Used in Australia?
In Australia, as in most developed countries, copper used in plumbing is considered the best choice for water supply lines based on standards set by building regulators along with health and safety codes concerning metals that can leach into potable water supplies.
In most cases, homeowners in Australia may install copper pipes for hot and cold potable water supply lines. In certain rural communities that may not have access to a city water supply system or where the distance from the home exceeds the maximum length allowed for PEX tubing, copper pipes would be a good choice for underground water lines. Copper used in plumbing can be used in any situation that calls for copper plumping, tubing, including refrigeration lines.
Where Can I Purchase Copper Pipes?
Plumbing systems, copper pipes and supplies can be purchased online from a wide variety of retailers offering a range of fixtures, fittings, and tubing. Availability of inventory may vary based on your location within the country so it may be necessary to check several sources before making a final selection.