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Ken Neyer Plumbing, Inc. Blog

What’s Better for Piping: Copper or Plastic?

cut-pvc-pipesIn the ol’ days of residential and commercial plumbing, the most common materials for piping were cast iron, clay, and galvanized steel. If you have a home that was built before 1970, you may have galvanized steel pipes in many places—if not for your entire plumbing system. Even earlier-built houses (pre-World War II) can have cast iron pipes and a clay sewer line.

These are outdated materials, and if your home contains any of them, we recommend calling our expert plumbers for whole-house repiping in Cincinnati, OH or wherever you are in our wide service area. The pipe materials we use to replace aging pipes are copper and different types of plastic.

Is one type better than another?

Copper and the most common plastics pipes (CPVC and PEX) have their own advantages and disadvantages. Plumbers will favor one type or the other for different jobs. During a professional repiping, you can expect a combination to be put into place.

Copper

Copper pipes are used the most often, and for a whole-house repiping, you can expect copper pipes to be dominant in replacing most main pipes as well as the sewer line. Copper is a durable metal that’s corrosion-resistant. (It’s not, we have to point out, corrosion proof. Chemicals in the water and low pH levels may lead to a specific type of corrosion called pitted corrosion that affects copper.) Copper has little danger of placing toxins into drinking water. It’s lightweight and easier for plumbers to work with, which cuts down on labor costs. It can tolerate large changes in temperature.

Plastics

CPVC, PEX, and UPVC are the types of plastic plumbers work with most frequently, and each has special uses and situations they’re ideal for. In general, plastic offers flexibility that makes installation into tighter spaces much easier, and they’re often favored for hot water lines. The material is inexpensive, which helps to rein in costs. Plastic pipes are also durable, which customers find surprising—they can last as long as many metals. Older plastic pipes tended to become brittle and sag, which has given plastic a negative reputation in some circles. However, this isn’t an issue with recent piping material such as CPVC.

Professional Plumbers Know the Right Materials

This may sound like it’s too complicated to make an accurate decision on your own about what pipes to use as replacements (or for new installations). You’re absolutely right about that! It takes years of training to perform even minor pipe replacement work. If you attempt to replace pipes on your own, or if you trust the job to amateur, you may end up with plastic pipes that can’t handle the work or awkward and expensive copper pipes in the wrong places. The job will also take much longer to complete than necessary—all for subpar results.

We’re a full-service plumbing contractor in business for more than 45 years, and we work with both residential and commercial plumbing. You can put your full confidence in us for repiping services that will make sure you have the right pipe materials.

Ken Neyer Plumbing, Inc. has served Greater Cincinnati and the surrounding Tri State area since 1972.

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