Your home’s plumbing may be tucked behind drywall, completely out of sight. But that doesn’t mean it should be out of mind… You’ll have to research copper pipes or PVC and the benefits of each on top of other considerations.
Most homeowners don’t even think about their plumbing, mainly because they can’t see it. Of course, that all changes when there are plumbing issues. In this case, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” no longer applies, especially if you have to invest in brand new pipes.
If that’s the case for you, it’s important to put some thought into the buying process. The main question to focus on is whether to go with copper pipes vs PVC. Both copper and PVC come with pros and cons, so let’s find out which is better for you and your home.
When It’s Time to Invest in New Pipes
A lot of people assume that pipes will continue working flawlessly with no expiration date. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case. If you’re not sure how old your pipes are, there’s a good chance they’re older than you think! In that case, it might be time for an upgrade.
There are several tell-tale signs for knowing when it’s time to invest in new piping for your home. Here are the main things to look for:
- Age: If you do by chance know the age of your pipes, this will come in handy. Age tells you exactly when it’s time for an upgrade. Most pipes have a lifespan ranging from 50 to 75 years. If you’re past this point, it’s time for a new system.
- Water Discoloration: If your tap is delivering water that’s reddish or brownish in color, you’ll definitely want to look into that. While this issue could have to do with the quality of the water, it’s not likely. The more likely conclusion is that the pipes are old and have corroded over time.
- Water Leakage: Notice stubborn water leaks throughout your home? This could very well be explained by poorly-operating pipes. It’s even more likely if the leaks are centered around major appliances, like the fridge or washing machine.
- Poor Water Pressure: Low pressure coming from your sinks could be explained by a clogged pipe. In this case, just the portion of the pipe that’s clogged will need replacing.
- Drain Clogging: No matter how much Drano you use on a slow-draining tub, the issue won’t be solved if it stems from bad pipes. The clog could be caused by corrosion in the plumbing, which can lead to constant clogging.
Copper Piping Vs PVC Piping: Which Is Best?
Copper and PVC are extremely popular materials for piping, and there are many reasons for this. In order to determine which material is best, you have to consider every important aspect of your plumbing system.
While they work similarly to deliver water throughout your home, there are some major differences between copper vs PVC. Depending on your home, one may be the better option over the other.
Lifespan & Durability
The lifespan of your pipes comes down to 2 factors. The first is the material, and the second is the material’s ability to withstand damage.
In general, copper piping is known to last longer than PVC. Copper as an element is extremely durable, and these pipes can last for more than 50 years. PVC, on the other hand, isn’t as durable, so you’re lucky if you get 30 years of use from PVC piping.
In regards to damage, PVC is the winner. This material has an impressive ability to withstand impact and abrasions. But overall, copper is still the winner when it comes to durability and longevity.
Plumbing isn’t cheap, for an overview read how much does plumbing cost?
It’s vital that you consider the cost of materials and installation of new pipes. PVC is a plastic material that’s extremely cheap to manufacture. You can buy 10-feet of PVC for as little as $5.
Copper isn’t nearly as affordable. This metal material can cost as much as $30 per linear foot. If you’re on a budget, PVC is definitely the better choice. But also remember that PVC pipes need replacing more often than copper piping.
Nowadays, the vast majority of homes are built with a plumbing system. This plumbing system is utilized every single day, even if you don’t turn the faucet on.
Because it’s such a fixture in our day-to-day lives, safety is a vital thing to consider when deciding on your pipe material. The water we use comes in direct contact with the material, and this has an impact on our health.
Unfortunately, both copper and PVC run the risk of chemical leaching. As water comes into contact with the pipes, chemicals can be drawn from the material. This is especially true when the water is moving at a high pressure.
The good news is that copper is much less likely to leach chemicals into our water supply. Even if it does, copper is a naturally occurring substance, and we all require this element for healthy development.
If you’re worried about chemical leaching and want to take extra safety precautions, copper piping is the better choice.
Climate & Temperature
Some homeowners have to think about the climate before deciding on a pipe material. If you live in a moderate climate without too much temperature fluctuation, this doesn’t apply to you.
But if you live in a place with extremely hot or cold temperatures, it’s important to consider that. Copper is a great choice for hotter climates. This material can handle temperatures as high as 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the flip side, PVC is a better option for colder locations. Copper pipes are prone to freezing when the temperature dips down, but PVC is not.
Nowadays, it’s more important than ever to think about our environmental impact. In terms of sustainability, copper is the winner. It is a naturally occurring metal that’s much better for the planet than man-made PVC.
Ease of Installation
Installing copper pipes can be tricky, and it’s definitely a job for a professional plumber. This type of piping requires soldering to fuse the pieces together.
PVC, on the other hand, is much easier to work with. You don’t need many tools, and some homeowners even choose to DIY a plumbing project that uses PVC.
It’s Always Best to Talk to a Professional
While you may be tempted to repair or replace pipes yourself, this isn’t recommended. Unless you have some plumbing experience, it’s best to leave this job to the professionals.
The cost of hiring a professional plumber may deter you. But if you choose to do this project yourself, there’s a much greater risk of damaging your entire plumbing system. The cost of repairing this will be much higher in the long run!
Who Wins This Pipe Showdown?
There’s no clear winner when it comes to this copper vs PVC pipes showdown. Copper is the more durable, more sustainable option. PVC, on the other hand, is much easier to install and much more affordable.
The decision on copper vs PVC pipes ultimately comes down to what’s best for you and your home’s plumbing system.