Rogelio Alvarez

By: Rogelio Alvarez on January 18th, 2023

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Pros and Cons of Copper Pipes: A Trusted Metal for Plumbing


Did you know that 200,000 pounds of copper were required to build the Statue of Liberty, the symbolic monument of freedom? That's around 100 tons of copper used, according to the Copper Development Association Inc. The artisans constructed the statue over 200 years ago and recognized the copper's value.

Copper's versatility and usefulness aren't only used by artists but also by plumbers, who rely on this metal for drains and pipes in houses. At Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air, we've worked with copper pipes for over 15 years. We have seen how well they perform regarding water supply and waste drainage systems.

Do you have a pending pipe replacement repair for your home? Before booking an appointment, familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of copper piping. 

This insider knowledge will help you understand how copper pipes work and why they are popular among homeowners and plumbing professionals. You will feel more confident with your decision to choose copper piping for your home!


Pros of Copper Pipes for Home Drain Systems

Copper is a naturally occurring element that is abundant on earth. Companies mine this durable metal, process and use it to make copper wiring, pipes, and other appliances. 

Plumbers trust copper pipes to deliver water inside homes and businesses safely. It is also helpful for transporting waste away from buildings. Copper pipes include plenty of advantages, such as the following. 

  • Resistance to Corrosion: Copper pipes are more corrosion-resistant than cast iron pipes. Their durability enables them to withstand decades of wear. Water can corrode steel pipes, but copper pipes are designed for repeated water usage.
  • Heat Resistance: Many commercial buildings, like restaurants, rely on copper pipes for plumbing because they can handle high heat. These pipes can withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The typical temperature of the water in your home is between 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning copper piping can withstand everything you plan to throw at it. 
  • Longer Lifespan: Choosing copper pipes for pipe replacement in your home provides peace of mind in the long term because they can last over 50 years with yearly maintenance with the help of a plumber. Replace your pipes with copper, and you will not worry about pipe problems in your home for decades.
  • Eco-Friendly: Copper is a highly recyclable scrap metal, which is great for the planet and a good option for eco-conscious homeowners. Instead of discarding old copper pipes, you can return them to a recycling facility and receive money for them. Recycled copper pipes are used for industrial machinery. 
  • Versatile Pipe Option: Copper pipes have different designs suitable for transporting the waste or clean water. Copper pipes are an option for supply systems that support high water pressure, like shower and kitchen drains, or for sewage drainage that helps transport waste away from your home.

Copper pipes are considered a higher quality material than other plastic ones, like cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). This in-depth comparison illustrates the differences between copper and PEX.


Cons of Copper Pipes for Home Drain System

As an informed consumer, it helps to see the positives and negatives of items you plan to purchase. That is especially true for copper pipes. Although there are plenty of advantages to choosing copper pipes for your home, there are a few cons to consider.

Here's a closer look at why there may be better choices for your home than copper pipes. 

  • Higher Price: Compared to other pipe materials, copper is two to three times more expensive. But what copper lacks in low price, it more than makes up for its high quality. 
  • Susceptible to Freezing: Most of LA County doesn't experience snowfall, but some places can reach freezing temperatures. Frozen copper pipes can easily burst, leading to property damage which can be expensive to fix. Insulation is available for copper pipes to help combat freezing. 
  • Weak to Acidic Water: When plants decompose, water absorbs some of their minerals, making it acidic. Acidic water can be corrosive toward copper pipes which can weaken to the point where they burst or crack. One symptom of acidic water in your home is a buildup of scale on your faucets. 
  • Can Affect Taste of Water: If you do not maintain your copper pipes, they can get corrosive from acidic water. The corrosion releases minerals that may give water a metallic taste. Investing in water treatment can protect your copper pipes to ensure longevity and also to remove bad tastes. 

Like any purchase for your home, deciding on whether you should get copper pipes requires careful consideration. 

Types of Copper Pipes for Plumbing and Drains

Copper pipes come in different sizes and fittings to best accommodate the design of a home's piping system. It can be overwhelming to guess which type of copper pipe best suits your home. Here's a breakdown of each so you can understand which type of pipes are fitted inside your home.

  • Type K Copper Pipe: Type K pipes are the thickest copper pipes in the field and can be identified by a green mark. These pipes are mainly used for underground piping that will support a lot of weight above ground. Their thickness is ideally suited for main water lines and outdoor piping.
  • Type L Copper Pipe: Type L is categorized with a blue marking. It is less thick than Type K and thinner than Type M. These copper pipes are the most commonly used materials for indoor plumbing for hot and cold water supply lines.
  • Type M Copper Pipe: The thinnest copper pipe is Type M, which is marked red to differentiate it from other copper. It is used for residential water supply systems, but it is less commonly used for installations by plumbers since Type K and L are more versatile. 
  • Copper Pipes for Drains, Waste, and Vents: These pipes are marked yellow and designed for drains carrying waste water away from homes. It relies on gravity to transport waste material into the city sewage system.

Plumbers don't expect homeowners to know the differences between copper pipes. A professional plumbing company in Los Angeles will choose the right copper pipe type based on the project's scope.


Choosing Copper Pipes for Your Home

Replacing old or broken pipes in your home can be a headache, especially when choosing between different types of pipe materials, such as copper and plastic. Copper pipe is praised by plumbers everywhere for its efficiency in drain and water supply systems. 

Most homeowners aren't familiar with the bells and whistles of copper pipes. At Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air, we have installed hundreds of copper pipes in homes all over Los Angeles. 

We have seen firsthand the cons and pros of copper pipes and believe it's best to share that information with you. This insider knowledge will prepare you to make the right decision for your home.

If you want to inquire about copper pipe repairs and installation, contact us for more information or book an appointment online. If you're interested in other pipe materials, such as PEX, check out this article to expand your knowledge of their advantages and disadvantages. 



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