Pvc pipe vs. copper pipe

Written by chris hamilton
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Pvc pipe vs. copper pipe
Most contractors install copper pipes in homes and businesses. (bier zapfanlage1 image by charly_lippert from Fotolia.com)

Copper is a metal with numerous properties, including being malleable, which means that it can be stretched into a variety of shapes. Polyvinyl chloride is a type of plastic, created as an oil byproduct. Both materials have their benefits and drawbacks in piping. When installing internal plumbing, most home contractors install copper pipes.


Internal plumbing provides a conduit for water to travel throughout a business or residence. Hot or cold water may be carried through piping, meaning that the material used must be flame-retarded and not become damaged at high temperatures.

Temperature fluctuations throughout the year mean that pipes must be able to expand and contract. Since water systems operate on the basis on pressure, the material used in piping must be failure strong, so as not to rupture.

Benefits of Copper Pipes

Copper pipes increase property value, because they last a lifetime. Copper water pipes can withstand heavy pressures, meaning that the chances of them bursting are slim. Metal pipes expand and contract with no detrimental effects, an important factor as pipes contract during the winter and expand during the summer. Copper pipes also act as a biostatic, meaning that copper natural inhibits the growth of dangerous pathogens, which can be carried in water.
Copper plumbing may be installed in small spaces because of the strength of the material, which can be beneficial, when working crawl spaces.

Benefits of PVC Piping

Polyvinyl chloride weighs less than copper piping, meaning that this material is easier to install. PVC pipes withstand higher water pressure than copper ones.

Since PVC does not have to be mined, this type of material is much less expensive than copper. This piping also insulates itself, meaning that it is less noisy than copper piping.

Copper Pipe Drawbacks

Copper pipes cost more money than PVC, and become susceptible to corrosion in rural areas, with well water containing heavy mineral deposits.

During winter, copper pipes may freeze, which blocks water flow until the pipes warm up. There exists the risk of these pipes busting, due to temperature fluctuations.

Some people report a metallic taste with copper piping, which may taste unpleasant.

PVC Pipe Drawbacks

PVC pipes do not tolerate flames well, although they are relatively heat resistance. PVC pipes also do not flex well under pressure.

Because PVC pipes are so bulky, they do not fit into tight spaces well.

Some people have claimed that PVC leaks trace amounts of toxins into the water supply over time, leading to health problems.

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