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Thread: Copper or PVC?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member steve2278's Avatar
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    Default Copper or PVC?

    I'm designing a large addition to my home and I see more and more homes going with PVC over copper piping. I don't know if its a cost issue, or if the industry is really moving in that direction? Is PVC as durable to pressure variations and would you recommend it to be used through out an entire house?

    Thanks in advance.

    Water Pipe Sizing
    Last edited by Terry; 04-11-2009 at 09:22 AM.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    You can not use PVC for water supply lines inside a home. Copper is still the preferred material although there is increasing use of PEX. A few places where minerals in the water tend to corrode copper use CPVC which is a different kind of plastic than PVC. I would not use CPVC, but if you do, realize that the interior diameter is much smaller than the same size copper. Generally where you would use 1/2" copper, you need 3/4" CPVC. PEX is popular for repiping because it can be installed without as much interior wall damage as copper. For new construction, copper is the material of choice.

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking copper is the best

    the price of copper has plumetted since
    china has gotten over their building frenzey


    when copper got up to 4 dollars a pound.

    I was forced to switch to WIRSBO AQUAPEX and it is ok, but now
    for the nominal difference in price (maybe 150-200) I would rather do the copper..

  4. #4
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    If you are talking water supply, you can't use PVC inside the structure.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member steve2278's Avatar
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    Default Copper or PVC?

    "If you are talking water supply, you can't use PVC inside the structure."

    Yea, tell that to the modular company that constructed the home because I have nothing but PVC!...(or it may be PEX)? The drains, water supply lines everything is plastic!! That's why I asked the question because I found it to be very odd?

    The modular is a cheap one, but it sits on 3 acres and that's why I bought it and I'm getting all my ducks in line to have an architect draft a set of plans as I'm plan to put on a large addition.

    I'm planning on redoing all the plumbing to get rid of the plastic/garbage and I'm going to install both a new heating/air conditioning systems, with the heat fueled by propane. Based on your experience as mechanics could you guys give an opinion as to what type of system "you" would go with (forced air, baseboard, dual system with heat pump etc), on a 1,600 sq. ft. single-story ranch.

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    Default Illinois code for PVC

    Here in Illinois you are allowed to use PVC for water pipe as long as it meets the appropriate NSF standard for potable water and for cold or tempred water. Below is taken from the Illinois code book, text in red is done by me. A note to remember even though Illinois allows certain material, the counties and cities may disallow it.

    Approved Materials for Water Service Pipe



    1) Acrylonitrite Butadiene Styrene (ABS) Pipe2 ASTM D 1527-1996a, ASTM D 2282-1996a
    Joints ASTM D 2235-1996a
    Solvent Cement1 ASTM D 2235-1996a

    2) Brass Pipe2 ASTM B 43-1998

    3) Cast Iron (ductile iron)2 ASTM A 377-1984
    Water Pipe CSA B70-1997

    4) Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) Pipe2 ASTM D 2846-1997M, ASTM F 441-1997, ASTM F 442-1997, CSA B137.6-1999 in B137
    Joints ASTM D 2846-1997M, CSA B137.6-1999 in B137
    Solvent Cement (Orange)1 ASTM F 493-1997, CSA B137.6-1999 in B137

    5) Copper/Copper Alloy Pipe 2,3 ASTM B 42-1996, ASTM B 302-1998

    6) Copper/Copper Alloy Tubing 2,3 ASTM B 88-1996

    7) Galvanized Steel Pipe2 ASTM A 53-1998, ASTM A 120-1984

    8) Poly Butylene (PB) Pipe/Tubing2 ASTM D 2662-1996a, ASTM D 2666-1996a, ASTM D 3309-1997a, CSA B137.7-1999 in B137, CSA B137.8-1999 in B137

    9) Polyethylene (PE) Pipe2 ASTM D 2239-1996a

    10) Polyethylene (PE) Tubing2 ASTM D 2737-1996a, CSA B137.1-1999 in B137

    11) Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pipe2 ASTM D 1785-1996b, ASTM D 2241-1996b, ASTM D 2672-1996a, CSA B137.3-1999 in B137
    Joints ASTM D 2855-1996, CSA B137.2-1999 in B137, CSA B137.3-1999 in B137
    Primer ASTM F 656-1996a
    Solvent Cement1 ASTM D 2564-1996a, CSA B137.3-1999 in B137


    12) Welded Copper Water Tube2 ASTM B 447 WK, WL, and WM-1997

    13) Solder ASTM B 32-1996

    Agency Note:

    1 Solvent cement must be handled in accordance with ASTM F 402-1988.

    2 Water service pipe must meet the appropriate NSF standard for potable water.

    3 Type K or L copper may be installed underground.



    Approved Materials for Water Distribution Pipe

    1) Brass Pipe2 ASTM B 43-1998

    2) Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride2 (CPVC) Pipe/Tubing ASTM D 2846-1997, ASTM F 441-19973, ASTM F 442-19973, CSA B137.6-1999 in B137
    Joints ASTM D 2846-1997M, CSA B137.6-1999 in B137
    Solvent Cement (Orange)1 ASTM F 493-1997, CSA B137.6-1999 in B137

    3) Copper/Copper Alloy Pipe2 ASTM B 42-1996, ASTM B 302-1998

    4) Copper/Copper Alloy Tubing2 ASTM B 88-1996

    5) Cross Linked Polyethylene2 ASTM F 876-2000, ASTM F 877-2000, CSA B137.5-1999 in B137

    6) Galvanized Steel Pipe2 ASTM A 53-1998, ASTM A 120-1984

    7) Poly Butylene (PB) Pipe/Tubing2 ASTM D 3309-1997a, CSA B137.7-1999 in B137, CSA B137.8-1999 in B137

    8) Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pipe 2,3 ASTM D 1785-1996b, ASTM D 2241-1996b, ASTM D 2672-1996a, CSA B137.3-1999 in B137
    Joints ASTM D 2855-1996, CSA B137.2-1999 in B137, CSA B137.3-1999 in B137
    Primer ASTM F 656-1996a
    Solvent Cement1 ASTM D 2564-1996a, CSA B137.3-1999 in B137


    9) Welded Copper Water Tube2 ASTM B 447 WK, WL, and WM-1997

    10) Solder ASTM B 32-1996

    Agency Notes:
    1 Solvent cement must be handled in accordance with ASTM F 402-1988.

    2 Water distribution pipe must meet the appropriate NSF standard for potable water.

    3 Use for cold or tempered water only.

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    There are lots of varieties of plastic pipe for different purposes, including potable water. Pex is generally considered a decent choice, cpvc can work well, some of the other types have had big problems. Note, pex itself is generally good, some manufacturers' fittings have had problems. The most trouble-free one seems to be Wirsbo. Some systems use crimps to hold the pipe to the fitting, Wirsbo (Uphonor) is different...you slide on a reinforcement ring, then you use a tool to (temporarily) expand the tubing, then slip it over the fitting. This type of plastic has 'memory', and the pipe collapses onto the fitting...it is not coming off unless you cut it off once it collapses. The Wirsbo fitting has multiple ribs on the fitting, and each one is sufficient to make the seal. Others have fewer so there is room for the crimp to hold in the depression between them.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default pipe

    They also say you can use PB. Do you want to guess how many plumbers would install it inside a house, or anywhere.

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    Default pvc

    I've heard that PVC has less chance of bursting from freezing than copper.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member steve2278's Avatar
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    Default Copper or PVC?

    Yea, that's what I've heard too. You would also think plastic would be more resilient to harsh water conditions and chemical attacks, as water containing a lot of contaminants would react with copper as its a natural element subject to corrosion, whereas plastic isn't.

  11. #11
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2278 View Post
    Yea, that's what I've heard too. You would also think plastic would be more resilient to harsh water conditions and chemical attacks, as water containing a lot of contaminants would react with copper as its a natural element subject to corrosion, whereas plastic isn't.
    One trouble with plastics is contamination. There was a backflow incident where a pesticide got into the water mains, and it bonded with the plastic city water mains. They flushed the mains and could not get rid of the contamination, so they had to spend millions to replace the city mains. Now if any homes had plastic pipes they too would have to had their water lines replaced. There is pro's and cons to all piping.

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default piping

    We would have to see it to be sure, but your piping is probably CPVC not PVC.

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    DIY Senior Member seaofnames's Avatar
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    Galvinized is still acceptable??!!

    wow

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