Copper pipes have been considered standard for home plumbing for years. They replaced the galvanized steel pipes used for many years before. Today, with the range of materials available including PEX and PVC pipes
, you may wonder whether copper pipes still offer the best option for your home. In order to determine this, you need to be aware of the pros and cons.
The Advantages of Copper:
The primary reason why many homeowners choose copper pipes is that copper is very durable. Copper pipes have a strong ability to resist breaking, providing an environment that is stable enough to adequately withstand impact and high pressure. This means that copper pipes are suitable for both surface and underground applications. Since copper has a high melting point, it can also resist fire or high temperature damage when installed in an above ground application. Additionally, it is naturally resistant to corrosion. Unlike galvanized steel, copper will not break or leak due to corrosion.
Another advantage of copper is that it has a natural resistance to bacterial growth. This can be very beneficial in water pipes, as there are certain bacteria that make water unclean for both domestic and commercial use.
Copper is also considered to be a more eco friendly option. Unlike plastic piping, copper can be reused. This means that if a pipe breaks and needs replacement, the damaged pipe can be recycled for another purpose, rather than simply being thrown in the garbage. Manufacturing copper pipes is also more eco friendly. Copper is a naturally occurring metal that does not emit any harmful gasses during processing, unlike the process of manufacturing synthetic plastic piping. Copper is also free of lead.
Finally, copper is lightweight and less expensive compared to steel.
Disadvantages of Copper:
The main disadvantage of copper is the price. While it is cheaper than galvanized steel, it is still far more costly compared to plastic. PEX and CPVC materials are not only cheaper, but they are less costly to install, compared to both galvanized steel and copper. Plastic also has the advantage of being color coded. PEX, in particular, is available in red and blue, which allows for hot and cold water supplies to be colored differently. This makes future repairs simpler as plumbers can easily trace the appropriate water line.
Another disadvantage is that copper is not suitable for all water types. For example, if your water supply is acidic, the copper can react with the water compromising the water quality and causing a metallic taste. This problem is easily overcome with the use of PEX pipes, which is not only resistant to acidic water damage, but also has a resistance to scale accumulation from hard water.
Finally, while copper piping is somewhat flexible, plastic is far more flexible, making it easier to fit and more suited to smaller or more restricted spaces.
Determining whether copper is the right choice for the pipes in your home will depend on a number of factors including the water quality in your local area and your budget. While copper is an excellent material, it may not be the best option for your home, so it is a good idea to discuss your concerns with your plumber
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solutions.