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Copper for Plumbing or only for Pennies

Posted 05-01-2009 at 05:56 AM by faucetman886

Over my next few blogs I intend to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the most common materials used for plumbing in homes today. The primary three are copper, steel or plastic with a myriad of choices now on the market in the latter. For todayís discussion I am going to start with copper which for many years has been considered to be the ultimate quality material to use.
Advantages
1. Copper is a soft metal known for its pliability so it can bend rather easily and uses less fasteners and connectors for the ease of installation
2. Bacteria can grow in other types of plumbing, especially plastic. Copper pipe plumbing has antibacterial properties that can prevent the grow of bacteria
3. When using other types of metal and connectors there is a risk of lead poisoning. With no lead used in the manufacturing of Copper pipe plumbing there is no risk of lead problems.
4. Unlike steel, copper pipes resist corrosion. Copper develops a patina over years but this does not cause damage
5. Copper piping is also capable of withstanding ultraviolet rays unlike plastic and makes it far better for outside uses such as in a sprinkler systems. Ultraviolet rays cause plastic to become discolored and brittle thus reducing its life expectancy.
6. Copper piping resists temperature changes making it more resistant to freezing. Donít be mislead, it will freeze and rupture in temperature extremes I was blown away the first time I saw the damage to a copper pipe after a hard freeze night. The difference was 1 burst pipe in the house while a neighborís house, done in PVC, had pipes burst all over and the resulting water damage.
7. In the event of fire copper will not give off the toxic fumes that plastic piping systems will and can potential keep water flowing longer in the house to fight a fire
Disadvantages
1. The most significant disadvantage of copper pipe plumbing is the cost. Copper is a considerably more expensive material than plastic or steel. Although the installation of copper pipe plumbing requires less hardware, it will still be more expensive to install. Unfortunately the value of copper and the problems with our existing economy is causing a very real problem with the theft of copper piping in new homes under construction and unattended homes.
2, Although one of the advantages of copper is its flexibility a disadvantage can be how it must be connected. All copper systems require soldering for connections and if you are like me and find soldering to be a lost art then you will either want to avoid doing it yourself and plan on having a professional plumber do the job. Improperly soldered connections can ultimately result in leaks that donít show up initially.
3. Another disadvantage of copper pipe plumbing deals with water acidity. Copper plumbing is only suitable for water that has a pH between 6.5 and 8.5 thus. Well water may be too acidic for copper pipe plumbing. You will want to have your well water tested before making the decision for copper and monitor the ph level several times a year. You should do this regardless of the type of materials you decide to use because the acidic/alkaline factor can affect many other things in your home from your own health to the affectivity of detergents.

Now with the discussion done on copper, stand by for next weeks exciting episode "TO PEX OR NOT TO PEX....THAT IS THE QUESTION".

I have 23 posts here on DIYchatroom, please take a few minutes and read them all. If you enjoy these then please visit my blogste(link in my profile) where there are 60+ available for your enjoyment and hopefully to help with your DIY issues.
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