Since the 1960s, the preferred material for residential and commercial piping in the United States has been copper. It is among the most used materials for water pipes due to its durability, reliability, and impermeability. Copper pipes are safe, rust-resistance, and last for up to 75 years, making them a meaningful investment compared to other water-transporting pipes. And so, there are high chances that your property’s plumbing system is made of copper pipes, which confers numerous benefits.
However, copper piping is not without its flaws. This post will examine the advantages and disadvantages of copper to help you decide should you wish to change your plumbing. Although Beach Plumbing is a strong advocate for copper pipes, we often educate our clients about the pros and the cons, allowing them to make informed decisions.
Let’s Start With Lead-Free Copper
As a plumbing material, copper is relatively easy to manipulate and bend. However, lead is relatively more malleable. Lead is so simple to manipulate that the ancient Greeks and Romans used it for water distribution pipes. Numerous homes constructed prior to the late 1980s installed lead water pipes. Also, the older your home, the higher the likelihood that at least some of its water pipes contain lead.
However, about 150 years ago, many suspicions and allegations arose that lead water pipes might cause lead poisoning, which is a particularly serious problem for children. And so, the popularity of lead started to fade.
Late in the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started drafting regulations to limit lead used in plumbing, especially in transporting drinking water. And so, copper pipes started taking over.
Currently, copper pipes are replacing lead pipes in several cities. These pipes are lead-free, which means that the lead-free solder is used in place of lead solder. Lead-free copper is a safer alternative to lead pipes that can corrode and release lead into the water.
Copper pipes are more long-lasting and heavy-duty than plastic pipe materials. For instance, cross-linked polyethylene, commonly known as PEX is a type of plastic. Also, copper resists heat better than some types of PEX, so it can be used to transport cold and hot water. PEX is a relatively new product having a projected lifespan between 30 and 50 years, which, although acceptable, is shorter than copper’s lifespan.
It’s also worth noting that PEX pipes may contract and expand, which could result in the infiltration of unwanted substances. This is not the case with copper. Moreover, PEX pipes deteriorate slightly when exposed to direct sunlight, whereas copper pipes are unaffected. Lastly, rodents can’t gnaw through copper. In some cases, rodents will gnaw on PEX pipes in residential properties, which could cause significant damage such as a leak.
The Benefits of Using Copper Plumbing Pipes
Now that you know a little bit about copper pipes, it’s time you understand their advantages.
Copper plumbing pipes have proven to be exceptionally resilient. This pipe material can withstand approximately 1000 psi of pressure. Depending on environmental variables such as the weather, climate, and water quality, the average lifespan of copper plumbing pipes ranges between 50 to 70 years. This material can withstand the needs of both large and small families for an entire lifetime.
Copper plumbing pipes are also popular due to their ability to withstand cold and hot temperatures. Compared to other plumbing materials, these pipes are less susceptible to freezing during the winter season. Moreover, copper piping can resist water corrosion and has a relatively low reactivity rate. This means it won’t react with the surrounding substances or chemicals, which often results in rusting or corrosion.
Don’t Pollute Water
Whereas other metal plumbing pipes including iron, galvanized steel, and lead have become obsolete, copper plumbing pipes have endured because they do not release harmful substances into the water. Moreover, you can recycle copper pipes and install them outdoors.
Are Relatively Lightweight
Copper plumbing pipes are light and simple for professionals to install. Furthermore, this material is highly flexible and can span vast distances throughout your property. Due to copper’s extreme durability, it requires no additional equipment or material (for example, to galvanize it) to meet your specifications. It can successfully stand on its own.
Less Detrimental to the Environment Than Other Materials
In contrast to PVC and PEX pipes, the process of manufacturing copper plumbing pipes is eco-friendly because it produces fewer harmful emissions and chemicals. Additionally, you can recycle copper pipes after they finish serving you. Generally, their impacts on the environment, from manufacturing to usage to recycling, are all positive.
Because copper piping has a high thermal resistance rating, it can stand against fires. Copper is an excellent option for homeowners worried about using fire-resistant materials.
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Copper pipes are relatively simple to bend and reshape without causing kinks that would impede water flow. In contrast, pipes containing iron or iron pipes are more likely to crack than to bend permanently. In general, copper pipes will not break apart unless extreme conditions exist, such as repeatedly bending a narrow piece of copper tubing at the same place or spot until it splits or creases.
Have Reduced Installation Fees
As mentioned, copper piping requires significantly less labor than iron or lead. Since it is ductile, it is easier to eliminate joints and elbows. And so, this improves the reliability and integrity of the piping and reduces installation costs.
As water is transported through pipes, there is a possibility that the pipes will encounter possible contaminants. If your plumbing piping is porous, the passing water will become contaminated and pose a health risk. Copper is impermeable and does not absorb substances with which it comes into contact. Therefore, you can be sure that your water supply is safe.
Disadvantages of Using Copper Pipes
There are a few disadvantages of using copper pipes to consider.
Are Relatively Costly
Cost is the primary reason for the growing need for alternative piping. Copper plumbing piping is costlier than cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) piping (PEX) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). And so, because of its durability and adaptability, PEX is quickly becoming a residential industry standard.
It is worth mentioning that this cost is usually offset by the relatively cheap installation. Also, when you consider aspects such as durability, copper pipes are not that costly.
Could Impart a Metallic Taste to Water
Some studies have shown that copper pipes may impart a slight metallic taste to drinking water, which some homeowners may find unpleasant.
Cannot Flourish in Acidic Environment
Although copper is relatively unreactive, it doesn’t do well in acidic conditions. And so, if you fetch water from a well or use water with high acidity, you may experience problems with the copper pipes in your home a few years after installing your plumbing systems. Copper plumbing pipes are only recommended in areas linked to a municipal water supply system with almost neutral water.
Contact the Pros
Beach Plumbing provides repair, installation, maintenance, and replacement services for residential water lines throughout Cypress and the surrounding Orange County areas, In addition to repairing water heaters, installing gas lines, replacing sewer lines, and repairing sump pumps, our team provides advice on how to maintain your plumbing system. We will also assist you in locating brand-new plumbing appliances that are energy-efficient to reduce your utility. Call Beach Plumbing to schedule an appointment today.