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Copper pipes vs PVC for plumbing

There’s Apple vs Android, Coke vs Pepsi, but little can divide plumbers more than the rivalry of Copper vs PVC

Both copper and PVC pipes are widely used across homes in the UK. Copper has proven to be a reliable source; it’s usage for delivering water has been shown to go back around four thousand years. Relatively, PVC piping is in its infancy, having been around a meagre 40 years. Should you opt for the old bull with millenia of success? Or has the emergence of PVC sent copper pipe to a retirement home? This article is going to highlight how each type of pipe fares in various categories, leading to a definitive conclusion once and for all.

copper pipes

What is copper and what is PVC?

Copper is a metallic element and a great conductor of heat and electricity. As well as pipes, It is commonly found in wiring and other electrical components. PVC, on the other hand, is a synthetic plastic known as ‘vinyl polymer’, and is found in a wealth of various products. It is, however, a common misconception that PVC is solely used in domestic plumbing. PVC is not suitable for withstanding heat. PVC pipes are commonly used for cold water applications, but when it comes to heating your home, the material that is used is CPVC – PVC’s younger cousin.

Both CPVC and PVC are very similar; they are both made from the same basic elements, but CPVC has a higher chlorine content, ultimately making it much better at withstanding high temperatures. In this article we will mostly be comparing copper and PVC, but also comparing copper and CPVC for hot water applications.

Both copper and PVC possess slightly different characteristics, but which is better overall? Let’s take a look how each fares in the following categories.

 

Price

In a market of increasing house prices, the cost of pipes has become a more important factor than ever in deciding which to use. On the face of it, PVC is less expensive than copper. However, it is also important to note that PVC is much more fragile during installation. Unlike copper, PVC can easily be snapped or broken, causing the costs to rise with replacement parts.

Despite this line of argument from copper proprietors, it is clear that PVC is clearly the more economical option, except perhaps in a few clumsy circumstances.

 

Durability

Durability is a big selling point for copper. Copper is fire resistant, earthquake tolerant and, unlike PVC, is bacteria resistant. Copper’s melting point is five times higher than that of CPVC, and is therefore much better equipped to handle extremely high temperatures.

On the other hand, PVC is not corrosive over water and air, unlike copper. So while CPVC may not be bacteria resistant, certain precautions can be put in place to prevent the growth of bacteria. In contrast, it is exceedingly difficult to prevent the corrosion of copper pipe due to water, seeing as its sole function is to hold and transport water. Additionally, while it is true that copper’s melting point is five times higher than CPVC, CPVC has a melting point of 200 degrees fahrenheit, far higher than is needed in the average home, and therefore rendering anything higher as redundant.

 

Installation

We already touched on this a little, advising that PVC is more easily damaged during the installation process than copper. With that being said, the downfall of copper piping is that it is much harder to install, and will need to be done by a plumbing specialist. PVC installation, on the other hand, is much less labour intensive and can even be installed yourself (with a little bit of general understanding).

 

Performance

Perhaps most importantly is how the two perform, and what, if any, are the noticeable differences? Once everything is set up, both copper pipes and PVC should function well and bring water to all areas of your home swiftly. It has been noted, however, that copper can be slightly noisy, and this may be something you’ll notice on a quiet evening.

Overall, it’s pretty clear that PVC is the superior material when it comes to making pipes. Proponents of copper may be struggling to admit that their beloved pipes are outdated, and perhaps stubborn plumbers are content sticking to what they know. Either way, the argument between copper and PVC is bound to continue. Luckily, the Jet Rod team provide drainage services regardless of pipe material. We offer drain cleaning, sink unblocking and a host of other drain cleaning services.

If you’re looking for any number of commercial or domestic drain cleaning services, call Jet Rod and we’ll aim to solve your issue the very same day.

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