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Thread: Is CPVC Any Better Than Copper Or Steel In Cold Weather?

  1. #1
    DIY Member PM5K's Avatar
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    Default Is CPVC Any Better Than Copper Or Steel In Cold Weather?

    So long story short I may have to run lines outside for a bathroom remodel, those lines would run to a water heater outside.

    It's not my preference but I don't have much choice.

    I'd build a structure to hold the water heater, and it would have a jacket, the structure would have insulation as would the pipes.

    So I've heard that CPVC doesn't hold up as well under direct sunlight, but is CPVC any better or worse under cold weather than copper or steel pipe?

    I live in South Texas so freezing is rare, hard freezes are even more rare, maybe a few freezes each season and somethimes we don't even get a deep freeze, but when we do it's one to three max...

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member Cal's Avatar
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    I use A LOT of cpvc in the N.Va. area were it gets pretty cold and we do have a lot of breaks some winters .

    The problem with cpvc freezing is that the pipe will crack A LONG way. Not just a small spot like copper .

    I have heard that pex is much better along that course of freezing . Haven't used it so I can't say for sure.

    Cal

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking wirsbo pex pipe

    the wirsbo pex pipe is supposed to swell and not break
    when it freezes ....

    I had used a lot of it in an un-heated crawl space dump--

    last year for a stpid customer I did a re-model for....



    It seemed to hold up fine,
    and it got pretty cold in Indiana....

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default

    If you can, plumb it in a way that in the event you are going to get a hard freeze you have the option of draining down the piping and preventing the break until the freeze passes. You just wouldn't have use of the bathroom during that time. Don't know if it is your only bath or not.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default cpvc

    CPVC is a rigid material, therefore, when it freezes it will break. However, unlike copper or steel, the expansion is not confined to a small area, so the break occurs over a longer section of the pipe.

  6. #6
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Thing you must remember about insulation is that it will not keep pipes from freezing if the water remains static during cold weather. It slows heat transfer, but provides no heat itself. The tank would be OK even if you didn't insulate it because it is will continue to heat the water. The insulation blanket will just slow the loss of heat. I don't know the problems you have to work around, but I'd sure try to figure some alternatives.

  7. #7
    DIY Member PM5K's Avatar
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    Well I'd keep the water running during freezes as we've always done regardless of the type of pipe that I use.

    Interestingly it seems to me that a break is a break, if copper breaks in a small spot, and CPVC cracks an entire piece, they both still need to be replaced, and with the cost of CPVC replacing an entire section of it wouldn't be that bad, the biggest difference I'd imagine is the 24 hour cure time for the CPVC, but I could live with that, or with draining the pipes for freezes.

    Most of the plumbing will actually be in the house above the floor, so it would only be that run of pipe that goes outside to the water heater and back in.

    It's a fifty year old travel trailer that doesn't travel anymore, so while you'd usually be able to work around problems in a normal site built home, in this case it's much more difficult to impossible to get a water heater in there, especially one of any decent size.

    Thanks for the info, any other opinions are always welcome.

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

    the difference with copper is that you may be able to peen the crack closed and then braze it shut, or just remove the split piece and replace that short section.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Default Ford or Chevy?

    This question is almost like asking which is better, Ford or Chevy!

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member Cal's Avatar
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    Try a space heater in the area you put the tank . Turn it on when it's going to get cold . Or put it on a thermistat set for 35 degrees to kick on. A lot of things might NOT be to code ,,,,, however sometimes you just gotta work with what you got .
    Cal

  11. #11
    mechanical engineer indyjps's Avatar
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    Default

    you may just be able to get a way with a putting a light fixture in and installing a heated bulb for cold nights to keep the area heated. i used this method with well pump in an uninsulated garage.

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