Copper Water Pipe vs. Plastic Pipes: Which is Right for You?


Copper Water Pipe vs. Plastic Pipes: Which is Right for You?

One of the more popular debates in the plumbing world is the copper water pipe vs. plastic pipes question. When replacing your plumbing or remodeling, you might find yourself wondering about the virtues of each.

Copper: Durable But More Expensive

One of the draws of copper is its durability. It can stand up to natural disasters like fire and even earthquake in some cases. It can also endure freezing and thawing conditions on a recurring basis. It has a deep history as the material of choice for contractors building American homes since indoor plumbing became the norm. Some 95 percent of existing homes have copper pipes, according to the Copper Development Association. And more than 80 percent of new homes use copper piping.

Because of its strength, it is accepted by all building codes. It's also easy to use because of its size. It has a small diameter so it can be used in snug spots. The joints are small and not bulky — another factor that makes it easy to use. However, the use of copper can be limited if the water is too acidic.

But copper pipes also come with some disadvantages. Some people say they can taste a slight metallic taste in their water. If copper piping is used with water that is too acidic, then there is the potential for pinhole leaks. Also, the price of copper fluctuates, meaning the cost of copper pipes can be expensive. Copper pipes can also be a target of thieves.

Plastic Pipes: Easier to Install, Repair; Lower Melting Point

Plastic tubing in the forms of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) PE (polyethylene) and PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) are strong and won't corrode. It's also lightweight and flexible, which means you won't hear that hard knocking noise you will sometimes hear with metal pipes. It's also typically easier to repair and install than copper.

It also usually wins in the cost category, costing less than copper. A special tool is needed to install the plastic pipes, but overall, plastic usually comes in costing less than copper.

One of the drawbacks to plastic pipes is, like copper, some homeowners notice a plastic-like taste to the water. Plastic pipes are also more of a breeding ground for bacteria than copper pipes.

Another big drawback is that some building codes restrict the use of plastic pipes, which have a lower melting point. The plastic can melt or burn at a lower temperature and can emit toxic fumes even before that, making it a safety risk in the unfortunate event of a house fire.

For answers to your questions about copper water pipe vs. plastic pipes, or any other plumbing issue, contact the Pink Plumber today.

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