Can Alternative materials Match The Diversity Of Copper? by Sylvan Tieger





Not likely, as copper tube systems are suitable for use in domestic, commercial and industrial hot and cold water supply, fire services, gas, steam, medical, air lines, heating systems, air conditioning and refrigeration. The one material does the lot. Alternative tube products do not match copper's application range.

I must strongly disagree. As much as I love copper and use copper almost exclusively for domestic water supply, I know as a Professional Master Plumber no one product is the best.

For example.

Since thermoplastics are non-conductors, they are immune to the electrolytic or galvanic corrosion that attacks and often destroys metal piping materials, particularly when installed underground.

Copper conveying hot water at 180 degrees F is prone to failure if the velocity is allowed to be in excess of 2-3 FPS (feet per second).

PVDF can handle high temperatures up to 280 Deg. F (137 Deg. C) and CPVC and PP can handle temperatures up to 210 Deg F (98 Deg. C).

I would love to put copper against the plastic piping in an acid system or even water with lots of minerals, like well water.

Copper is subject to erosion from lack of proper installation (no reaming) or poor design (excessive velocity). Copper can allow hydraulic shock to be even more intense than its steel or brass piping counterpart.

Copper in marine use just doesn't hold up as well as other piping materials.

I would never think of using copper for my main sewer piping as Cast Iron has longevity and the mass to have a very quiet system and plastic waste is one of the noisiest systems imaginable.Copper type DWV is paper thin and subject to attack from chemical action of domestic drain cleaners.

To say one type of material is better than another is absurd just like saying a jet is the best plane out there BUT I certainly would not want to do crop dusting with an F14.

Manufacturers are always pushing their products as the best, BUT as Master Plumbers and Gas fitters and Drainers we must make the final decision what is the proper material and equipment for each job application and what is allowed by codes and not just price.

Copper is a great material if used properly and you know its limitations.

I only use plastic under duress BUT if the system requirements needed plastic for an acid waste or water conditions warranted it, I would use the proper type of plastic as required by job requirements.

Black steel is great for steam applications as the coefficient of expansion is not as great as copper and you wont get the loss of BTUs from the piping.

Black steel is also stronger and resists the possibility of having the pipe wall penetrated by a nail, like a copper gas line can, can really be dangerous.

On a steam pipe you have the real possibility of having severe burns using copper opposed to black steel if you brush against this piping.

Steel can be threaded, welded and use mechanical clamps to hold much higher pressures.

Some members of the population are actually allergic to copper and any water passing through this piping must be filtered.

Thankfully we Licensed plumbers do keep abreast of current code changes and new materials and designs coming into play, especially in the heating industry with much lower hydronic temperatures and plastic being used underground in long joint free grids.

The problem as I see it is many material manufacturers always tell how great their products are but never the short comings!

Respectfully,

Sylvan LMP (Licensed Master Plumber)
"Plumbers Protect The Health Of The World."

Sylvan Tieger - [Intro] | [Qualifications] | [Email] | [Website] | [Articles]

The views expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the management or staff of MasterPlumbers.com

PlumbViews Home Page