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Should I Install Copper or PVC Pipes? (DIY Plumbing Tips)

wall of copper plumbing pipes in home

You know that phrase “out of sight, out of mind?” It certainly seems to ring true when it comes to plumbing.

The majority of homeowners don’t think much about their plumbing. That is, until there is a problem. Whether it is a minor drip or a major leak, plumbing problems are never fun to deal with. The unfortunate truth is that you can face a major plumbing issue before you know it.

Oftentimes, this means having to invest in new pipes for a section of your house. However, if you live in an older house, you might find that you have more modern pipe options than you did when the house was built.

Not sure what pipe style is right for you and your home? Welcome to the ultimate pipe showdown! Copper pipe vs. PVC: Who will come out on top? 🥊

When to Install New Pipes

Just like humans, all pipes have an expected lifespan. The tricky part is that many of us don’t know how old our piping materials are! Here are some signs that can help you identify if it is time to make a change:

old copper pipe about to be replaced by new pvc pipe
  • Age – If you do have access to the information that tells you when your plumbing was installed, you can make an informed guess based on the age of your pipes. While different piping materials have different lifespans, most pipes can last between 50-75 years before they need replacing.
  • Discolored Water – One of the key signs of failing plumbing is water that comes out of your taps with a brown or red tint. If you have hard water, this may be a natural occurrence, but more likely it is a case of rust buildup due to pipe corrosion.
  • Leaks – Are you noticing persistent leaks spring up throughout your home, particularly around major appliances? This could be a sign that your plumbing is on its way out.
  • Low Water Pressure – If water is just trickling out of your shower or sink, you may have a clogged pipe in your home that needs to be replaced.
  • Clogged Drains – Have you tried every trick in the book but simply cannot get your tub or sink to drain quickly? It could indicate corrosion in your plumbing pipes.

Copper Pipes vs. PVC Pipes

Copper pipes and PVC pipes are two of the most popular styles of piping on the market. However, they have distinct differences that keep them from being interchangeable. Depending on the needs of your home, you might find that one style works much better than another.

Today, we’ll be comparing and contrasting copper and PVC pipes to find out which one is the best option.

1) Durability

When it comes to durability, there are two aspects two consider. The first is the lifespan of the materials. Copper piping has an impressive lifespan of 50+ years, making it one of the longest-lasting pipes on the market. In comparison, PVC pipes tend to fall apart much more easily.

Of course, we also have to consider how well each type of pipe stands up to damage. A PVC is much more likely to be able to handle impact or other abrasions than copper pipe systems.

Winner: 🥇 Copper Pipes!

2) Affordability

When it comes to adding new elements to your home, we understand that price is almost always the top concern. If you are looking for an affordable option, PVC pipe wins in a landslide. Plastic pipes cost only $.50-$5, making them a very budget-friendly option.

Copper plumbing, on the other hand, can cost $20-$30 per linear foot. Keep in mind, though, that copper pipes last much longer than PVC piping, meaning that you might end up saving money in the long run.

Winner: 🥇PVC Pipes!

3) Safety

pvc plastic pipes installed in bathroom walls

We all use our plumbing pipes every single day. That means our water sources are always coming into contact with the pipes that we choose. It’s natural to wonder if there is a better choice when it comes to your overall health and wellness.

The truth is that both types of pipes are susceptible to chemical leaching. However, copper pipes are better able to resist leaching. Additionally, the material itself reduces the risk of bacteria growth, which can taint your drinking water.

As a naturally occurring metal, copper is an essential part of your diet and nutrition. However, there have been rare instances where homeowners end up ingesting too much copper. If that is a concern for you, you might feel safer choosing plastic piping.

Winner: 🥇Copper Pipes!

4) Temperature

Depending on where you live, your plumbing system may require materials that can withstand extremely hot water and extremely cold temperatures.

If heat is your concern, copper is the clear way to go, as copper pipes can handle temperatures up to 302 degrees Fahrenheit!

On the flip side, though, copper doesn’t work as well in cold climates. Copper pipes have very thin walls that are prone to freezing and thawing quickly. The durable plastic compound in PVC pipes makes it a better choice for the cold.

Winner: 🥇It depends!

5) Sustainability

More and more homeowners are concerned about sustainability when it comes to their homes. It’s probably a no-brainer, but copper plumbing is significantly better for the planet than plastic pipes.

Winner:🥇Copper Pipes!

6) Ease of Installation

Are you an avid DIY-er? You’ll love how easy PVC pipes are to install. Very few special tools are required to install and make repairs to PVC piping.

Copper, on the other hand? You’ll want to hire a professional. Copper pipes require soldering in order to work properly.

Winner: 🥇 PVC Pipes

Overall Winner? 👑

Surprise! We can’t choose!

Ultimately the best plumbing systems are the ones that work for you, your home, your budget, and your climate. As you can see, each style has its pros and cons that are important to assess before making your choice.

Consult With a Plumber

Need some help making a decision? Call on the team at Black Tie Plumbing! Our plumbers are highly trained and can help you answer any questions you may have about the difference between copper vs PVC pipes. Contact us today to get the answers you need!

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