Copper Vs. PVC For Plumbing Pipes

The pipes you use in your home will have a long-lasting effect on your energy use and the quality of your water. While PVC pipes are a much newer addition to the plumbing scene than copper, they should not necessarily be your first choice for plumbing. Copper is a durable material that will work well in situations where PVC simply would not work. On the other hand, there are also times when PVC is the better choice.

An Analysis of PVC

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a lightweight plastic which can be extruded into plumbing pipes for use with both fresh and wastewater pipes. The benefit of PVC is that it is a cheaper material than copper, and it will not corrode like copper and other metal pipes will. Also, PVC pipes are, in general, thicker than metal pipes and will not conduct heat as much a metal; therefore, PVC pipes help hot water to stay hot longer, so you don't waste as much electricity trying to heat water. The disadvantages of PVC are that if you use plastic pipes in an area that is prone to tremors or earthquakes, the movement of the earth can cause the pipes to rupture. Furthermore, if your home catches fire, your PVC pipes will release toxic gases when they combust. Thus, they can cause a hazard to pets or people in your home. 

An Analysis of Copper Pipes

Copper is a malleable material that can be easily shaped into pipes for plumbing. The main benefit of copper is that if you live in an earthquake-prone area, copper pipes will flex, which can help them to outlast an earthquake. Furthermore, they will not combust; thus, they should stand through a fire. Finally, copper pipes can be recycled after they reach the end of their service life. The main disadvantages of copper are that it will corrode over time and this corrosion can leach metal salts into your water supply. Also, copper tends to be an expensive material to work with, so your cost of installation will be higher. Choosing between the two depends on matching the right pipe for your circumstances.

Copper and PVC are two of the most common plumbing materials on the market. While copper is more expensive and more prone to corrosion than PVC, you should not automatically write it off. If you are worried about forest fires, tremors, or full-scale earthquakes, then copper pipes are your best choice. On the other hand, if you are trying to keep costs down, and you don't have to worry about earthquakes, then PVC pipes are a better choice. Visit a plumber like Countryside Plumbing if you have questions.