Author: Brandon Fyfe, Thompson’s Plumbing 25 January 2021

Is Copper Piping a thing of the past?

Copper is a commonly used material for the transportation of water for various uses. The benefits of copper piping include durability, it does not contaminate water, it has a less harmful environmental impact because it is recyclable, it is fire/heat resistant and contains antimicrobial properties (controlling bacteria). Copper does, however, have a lifespan and will eventually corrode further than the thickness of its tube type wall, resulting in it bursting, where the resultant damages of this could be major.

plumbing copper pipes

Why does my copper piping burst?!
Corrosion is the answer, which is “the deterioration of a substance or its properties due to a reaction with its environment.” In plain words, in plumbing systems, corrosion is due to physical and chemical reactions between the pipe material and the water it carries.

plumbing copper pipes

The most common causes of copper corrosion:

  • High or low pH levels.
  • High levels of dissolved salts or oxygen.
  • Electrochemical causes, such as improper grounding of electrical appliances to the copper piping.
  • High velocity of water, relative to size of piping, causing hydraulic wear on the piping, sometimes found in circulating hot water systems using pumps.
  • Sand, sediment or other grit in the water causing hydraulic wear on the pipe.
  • Improper installation of copper piping.
  • Poor quality copper, classed by gradings 0, 1 & 2. Class 0 being the thinnest and class 2 the thickest.

copper piping corrosion

Alternative solution?
In recent years, there has been a rise of various types of high-pressure PVC (plastic) and multi-layered pipes whereby they serve the same purpose as copper, although the purchase value of the material is not as much, and they are guaranteed to last longer if installed correctly.

If you find yourself wandering about piping choices for your plumbing system, it is always best to seek expert advice from an experienced plumber to inform you of the the most cost-effective solution to meet your needs before planning further.

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brandon@thompsonsplumbing.co.za

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