Deciding between brass and copper fittings for your next plumbing project

Deciding between brass and copper fittings for your next plumbing project

Published by On-Demand Supplies on 29th Oct 2018

One of the criteria for success in plumbing projects is the materials. Poor quality materials may achieve the job, but they are will likely fail quickly and create problems. It is preferable to use the best quality materials you can afford as it works out to be wiser in the long run. But it’s not just a case of quality or price. The composition of the materials is important and there is a choice to be made between brass and copper fittings. Both have their advantages:

Advantages of brass fittings

  • -Resilient and long serving
  • -Can withstand high temperatures
  • -Available in plated finishes for an aesthetically pleasing finish
  • -More malleable than iron or steel
  • -Rust resistant

Advantages of copper fittings

  • -Available in a wide range of fittings and dimensions
  • -Excellent thermal conductivity
  • -Resistant to corrosion and does not require painting or coating
  • -Very durable
  • -Reliable
  • -Light and strong
  • -Resistant to burning
  • -Ductile and easy to manipulate to form joins

Both copper and brass possess qualities that make them suitable for plumbing projects. The whole range of plumbing materials for pipework and joinery is available in both metals so what decides which is the best to use for a plumbing project.

Where you would use a brass fitting over a copper fitting

One of the biggest advantages that brass has over copper is that brass plumbing materials tend to be cheaper than copper, so if budget is a major consideration, brass should be the choice.

Applications of brass fittings include:

  • -Water supply lines
  • -Water removal drains and lines
  • -Some applications for gas lines, depending on local building regulations

Brass is more malleable than copper, so if a plumbing project contains a lot of bends and joints, brass may be better as it does not require special tools to bend, shape and mould it.

Where you would use a copper fitting over a brass fitting

The typical plumbing projects where copper is preferable to brass include:

  • -Hot and cold drinking water supply
  • -Refrigerant lines for HVAC systems
  • -Other applications that require a tight seal
  • -Underground service lines

Copper can be used for all diameters, large and small, and for low and high pressure systems under a wide range of temperatures.

Which is the healthier choice?

In these health-conscious times, it’s also important to note any concerns regarding the use of these materials in plumbing.

Copper: The average life of copper piping is 20 years and it is thought that 98% of domestic water systems since 1970 have been made from copper. Although highly corrosive-resistant, if your home’s water has a pH level of below 6.5, corrosion may occur.

Brass: One of the components of brass is lead and with eventual corrosion a possibility, lead may leak into the water in the pipework.