You hear in the streets, in the bars and at the table people debating Plastic Vs Copper Water Pipes. What Is the superior option?! What is better when choosing the material of plumbing pipes for your home - copper or plastic?
It really depends on the circumstances and the cost you're willing to spend. If it's an old home you're thinking about to replace the plumbing system, in most likelihood, the pipes in place are made of copper. If it's not a major revamp, and you only want to replace pipes in specific sections, you could interconnect existing copper lines with plastic pipes, as long as the joints are compatible with each other.
Plastic pipes are much more affordable than copper pipes. They cost 20 to 40 percent cheaper on the average. Plastic pipes may set you back 36p to £1.50 per linear square foot, while copper pipes costs £1.50 to £3.90 per square foot.
But if it's a new home that is being installed, entirely fresh pipes, like most plastic piping, will make you spend less. But you might want to interconnect with copper pipes in certain sections that need the qualities of copper that plastic do not have. Copper pipes have been used forever in homes, but plastic pipes have been making inroads into the plumbing necessities for homeowners for the past 30 to 40 years only. If you're in the midst of decision-making for your plumbing needs, it would help if you read below and get some background on both copper and plastic pipes.
They have always performed well since time immemorial in homes, because as a plumbing metal, it is soft and flexible. They have an above average resistance to water corrosion and are durable for the long term.
They have a lifespan of 40 to 60 years and are great in holding hot or cold water which passes through them.
Make sure, if you decide on copper pipes, that their joints are lead free. This is because aside from being long-lasting, they don't allow chemicals to seep into your drinking water.
But as explained above, copper pipes are more expensive, and copper when extracted from the Earth, needs an extensive mining process as well as a lengthy manufacturing sequence which leads to hazardous environmental trade-offs.
Copper pipes also fail when water temperature goes above 180 degrees and condensation forms inside. Condensation blocks water flow.
They are also sensitive to certain types of acidic water, which results in the water having a metallic taste when it reaches you. While copper pipes have an above average corrosion resistance, when it comes to acidic water, they surrender a bit and gives in to corrosion and deteriorates.
Corrosion is unknown to plastic pipes. And because they can be fabricated to be thick, they are better than copper pipes to be installed in high traffic areas. They are also much easier to install than copper pipes.
There is one kind of plastic pipe called PEX which is made from flexible plastic made from medium or high-density polyethylene. In Europe, PEX has been used for decades for hydronic radiant heating and hot and cold-water distribution systems.
They have been modified to have excellent properties such as enhanced heat resistance and strength that goes on for decades.
Plastic piping also has the benefit of never corroding. They also don't permit sediments to build up inside the pipe. But copper pipes upend plastic pipes in terms of familiarity with professional plumbers who have been using them for a longer period of time, compared to plastic pipes.
Plastic pipes last an average of 25 years, which is lesser than the 40 to 60 years estimate for copper pipes. But a quarter of a decade is already a long service life, which far outstrips the low cost that you invested in their installation.
Plastic pipes are also better than their copper counterparts for small or tight areas, which are difficult for the more rigid copper. The installation is quick wherein they are connected using crimp rings with the use of a compression tool or simply by snapping into connector fittings. This significantly makes your labour costs low compared to copper pipes.
Both plastic and copper pipes do freeze, but copper is the first one to give in and burst when the temperature drops below freezing. There are plastic pipes that expand eight times their original size before freezing.
Both copper and plastic pipes of today have properties which take pains not to leach chemicals into the water inside the pipes. But water seeping in, can't be entirely avoided, and this incident can cause an unpleasant odour and exceed EPA water quality standards.
But recent studies have discovered that using plastic pipes reduce CO2 emissions by 42 percent in the long term compared to copper pipes.
Plastic pipes also have other drawbacks. They fail when they are exposed to chlorine which is integrated into the water, exposed to direct sunlight (before being installed), petroleum products and oxygen. This means, plastic pipes are discouraged to be installed in very hot areas, like those with recessed lighting and near hot water heaters.
So, this is where copper pipes and plastic pipes can work together. Each have their strengths and weaknesses. Correspondingly, to correct plumbing problems in certain sections of your home, you could interconnect copper and plastic pipes on a selective basis, based on your needs.
You should also take into account the status of your home. If it's already existing, and you already have installed pipings in place, it would help if you have certified plumbing professionals to assist you, because major mistakes can be costly. You don't also want to void the warranty of the used piping you have because of mistakes that violate the warranty clause.
Plumbers could advise you on the selection of pipes for every section of your house. If you have consistent problems of pipes cracking or busting, you'll want to know what their take on these are.
No matter what, copper and plastic pipes can both be useful to you. Just work with certified plumbers for best results.