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Thread: COPPER or ABS for drain replacement?

  1. #1

    Default COPPER or ABS for drain replacement?

    If I am having drains from my seperate tub and shower replaced, what is the appropriate material to use? I can't get the same answer out of the three plumbers I have quotes from. One plumber says ABS is the way to go because copper will erode much more quickly. Isn't there anything that would have some sort of lifetime warranty?

    I had a repipe done when I moved into this house about a year and a half ago. All of the water coming in comes through copper. The drains are still galvanized. My bathtub clogged up for good back in February. Couldn't get a snake down and the plumber who came said he'd likely just be boring a small hole through a bunch of build-up and the problem would only reappear. Now my shower won't drain, even though I tried to snake it myself. The answer appears to be to just replace all the drains and to get this over with and not have to worry about it, anymore.

    One plumber quoted me $3800 for ABS, including plaster patching.

    Another quoted me $4900 for copper, not including patching.

    Advice, anyone? This lady home-owner sure does appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    Plastic or cast iron would be my choice. The cast iron would be quieter if done right, but would cost more. The choice of plastic type is somewhat of a regional thing from what I hear. I'm not a pro, but you asked for an opinion. You'll get others. People put some nasty things down drains, and to copper is much thinner than the cast iron. The plastic is quite smooth, and stuff does not stick to it much.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Default drain

    Nothing lasts forever, even a "lifetime" water heater will fail at least once, and more than likely several times. Copper is susceptible to failure from chemicals poured into the drain, cast iron develops stactites and stalagmites inside from rust, galvanized can close down from rust accumulations, ABS or PVC can crack from stress or poor installation.

  4. #4
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of the brave....
    Blog Entries

    Talking Pvc Sch 40

    Pvc sch 40 is the best you can install

    stay away from copper,
    its good for only about 35-45 years
    for a drain line.
    my copper drain lines in my own home are starting to deteroirate
    and will be an issue soon, built in 64

    my toilet branch line is beginning to show signs of stress
    because of the urine that has flowed through it that has eaten up
    the copper over time.

    tests that have been run on White PVC sch 40 and black ABS
    were done back in the 70s and it was concluded that both pipes are
    probably going to last about 400 years +

    the black ABS pipe became a fire hazard and is not used in
    our area anymore, it lights up and burns like a log...

    they arent really sure how long the pipe will actuallly
    last becasue their is no way to test beyond that point...

    basically PVC and ABS durability went off all known charts at the time.

    as long as it is not in sunllight, they figure somewhere between
    400 and 600 years...

    and as long as
    certain gasoline or paint like thinners --solvents
    are not constantly put down the drains
    that would start to eventually break down the pvc pipe

    thats the only thing that can mess up pvc is
    some of the ingredients that they were made with.

    but if it lasts over 250 years ,
    I figure its good enough for me
    Last edited by master plumber mark; 06-05-2005 at 10:30 AM.


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