Copper is one of the most popular materials for residential and industrial piping and fittings, especially in the last 50 years, when it has replaced galvanised steel as the metal of choice for such fixtures. While it faces stiff competition today from plastics, it still remains exceedingly popular, and for very good reason. Here, we discuss both the positive and negatives that come with both copper piping and copper fittings.
Copper by its very nature is resistant to corrosion, which is why it has overtaken steel as the primary choice for piping and fittings. Steel eventually corrodes, which can cause serious leaks and consequentially, a rather large and rather messy clean up job.
Copper is also very pliable and lightweight, despite its durability. It is easy to work with, even if you don’t have experience in the field and is able to extend over long stretches without the need for pipe supports.
Compared to steel, copper is the cheapest option due to its abundance. This allows even the largest job to remain fairly affordable.
Finally, copper pipes are far more environmentally friendly than plastic piping. Copper is a naturally occurring metal while synthetic plastics create a large amount of emission when being manufactured.
Despite its obvious advantages, copper piping has some detrimental qualities that any prospective buyer should know about before making a final decision on the material they plan to use.
Firstly, while copper may be a significantly cheaper option than steel, modern plastic alternatives are substantially cheaper. Copper pipes also run into trouble when dealing with water high in acidity. While copper is far more flexible than steel, it is obviously not as malleable as plastic piping, which can fit into any space necessary.
Firstly, copper fittings are extremely reliable. Most American homes use copper fittings, despite the increased availability of plastic alternatives. This is because of its decades old reputation and its reliability.
Copper is very good at withstanding extreme temperatures and pressures. This comes in handy as fittings, which can be a problem area if compromised, are substantially more durable if made from copper.
Copper fittings are not combustible and do not let off any kind of toxic gases should a fire occur. Its high melting point means that it will not carry fire through the house.
Plastic fittings sometimes require industrial and potentially harmful solvents to be installed. This is not the case with copper and further enhances its reputation as the most environmentally friendly material for such work.
Copper fittings are also very simple to install and repair. Its phenomenal thermal conductivity means that open flame heating can be used to re-join any parts or remove any frozen water from surrounding pipes.
One of the primary reasons that copper fittings are used in the majority of American houses is the fact that it is aesthetically pleasing. Compared to galvanised steel, which can look unappealing and industrial, and plastic, which can look cheap, copper has a classic look which means that any exposed fittings will not be an eyesore in a residential property.
The negatives of copper fittings are similar to the negatives of copper piping. Fittings still remain more expensive in copper than in plastic and can also be temperamental in extreme cold weather which can cause serious issues, especially if exposed to the outside temperatures.
While these negatives factors should always be considered when decided which material to use for your pipes and fittings, there is a reason why copper is a favourite among many industry professionals. It is versatile, safe, durable, reliable and pretty good value for money.
Steel is a material that, while still used for larger industrial jobs, is fading out as a reliable material for pipes and fittings. Corrosion is a very serious issue that can destroy an incredible amount of hard work in a very short space of time.
Plastic is a modern material that is fast gaining popularity for pipes and fittings. While it is cheap and extremely versatile, it goes against the environmentally friendly vocabulary that is being used a lot in the modern world.
It is for this reason that copper is such a popular choice and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. There is enough copper available on earth to cater to everyone’s needs a thousand times over and more. And while it does have some small negative factors, it still stands proud at the very top of the podium as the material of choice for pipes and fittings.
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