Have you ever walked around your basement and actually looked at the pipes? That is, looked for more than a quick glance to make sure nothing’s leaking? If you have, chances are you’ve seen either white or gold pipes.
The white pipes are PVC pipes and the gold pipes are likely copper. If you’re reading this article, chances are you know exactly what your pipes look like (because they’re leaking!).
So the question becomes, should you stick with your current pipes or move to another style? PVC and copper both have their drawbacks and advantages. Today, we want to help you decide between new PVC and copper water pipe.
Let’s get started.
Copper Water Pipe vs PVC Pipe 101
Copper and PVC pipe are fundamentally different. Before we get into the specifics, let’s start with the basics.
PVC pipe is made from polyvinyl chloride. That’s a fancy word for special plastic. You’ll usually see PVC pipes used for bathroom plumbing, under sinks, etc. That’s because PVC pipe is excellent for drainage.
PVC pipes can expand, and drainage pipes are typically exposed to colder environments. When PVC pipes leave your home, the pipes are commonly exposed to sub-zero temperatures. If your PVC pipes freeze, they’ll expand instead of bursting.
However, PVC doesn’t work well for hot water delivery. Many municipalities have banned plumbers from installing PVC pipe with the intent of carrying hot water.
Copper piping is the traditional plumbing pipe. People choose copper pipe for its ability to withstand high temperatures as well as both anti-corrosion and anti-bacterial properties. Most homes use copper piping for their hot water delivery system.
That being said, copper pipe is quickly falling out of favor. Copper is expensive, and plumbing your home with copper pipe uses a lot of copper. Plus, we now know that copper buried underground requires a pipe sleeve (which means even more work and money).
When it comes time to make the choice between copper and PVC pipe, installation can make all the difference. Yes, you’ll probably need copper piping for your hot water plumbing, however, you could use copper or PVC for most other piping.
Let’s talk a few hard and fast rules.
- Piping outside or with outside drainage: PVC only
- Hot water plumbing: Copper only
- All other plumbing: Situation dependent, though consult with a plumber first
Notice that the last rule notes that most plumbing cases are situation dependent. That’s true. You should always ask your plumber before committing to either copper or PVC.
Choosing Your Piping
If you’re in the market to repipe your house, get in contact with us. We can help you choose between PVC plumbing and copper water pipe.
We’ll leave you with this. Copper piping costs more money, while PVC piping is cheaper. However, you get what you pay for.