Repiping Your Athens Home? Copper Vs. Plastic Pipes
If you need to install new pipes in your Athens home, you may be wondering which is better, copper or plastic. Which is better quality? Which leaks faster? Well, just like anything else, there are positives and negatives to both kinds of pipes. Deciding which pipe to have installed is not simple, there are many factors to consider that can affect how to proceed with your plumbing dilemma.
The Pros and Cons of Copper Pipes
- Reliable – Copper lasts for 60 to 70 years.
- Resistant to Corrosion – Though, they’re not entirely impermeable, depending on the pH levels in your water.
- Toxin-Free – Copper pipes will not release toxins into your water.
- Prevents Bacteria – Copper pipes prevent bacteria from growing and building up in your pipes.
However, as it normally goes with anything reliable, copper piping is not cheap. Not only is copper itself expensive, but installing it is more difficult because copper piping requires more parts and more hours of labor than plastic pipes do. So, among the things to consider before you decide on copper piping is your budget.
Traditionally the Athens area does not experience frozen pipes, however, if we experience a bitter cold spell like Houston, Texas last year copper pipes can and often do burst if they freeze up. Although not likely for us here in Athens, frozen copper pipes could cause a serious plumbing emergency.
The Pros and Cons of Plastic Pipes
Plastic pipes, specifically PEX (polyethylene) pipes, have increased in popularity in recent years because they are just as reliable as copper and are much more affordable. They are also easier to install, which cuts down on labor costs, and our plumbers can install them in the small, tight areas that copper pipes simply won’t fit into. Not only that, but PEX pipes don’t corrode, and they can expand up to eight times their size before they burst.
The downsides to PEX piping are:
- Shorter Life Expectancy – You’ll get a maximum of 40 to 50 years out of PEX piping, as opposed to up to 70 with copper.
- Thinner Material – While thinner material allows the pipe to expand to prevent it from freezing up and bursting, this may also subject your water supply to contamination.
- Can’t Use It Outside – polyethylene is sensitive to the Georgia UV degradation and, as such, it doesn’t work as well outside.
You may also experience more issues with PEX fittings than you would with the fittings used for copper piping. While PEX piping uses fewer fittings, which you would expect to reduce your chances of a problem, the fittings that are there are more likely to loosen. And loose fittings can cause plumbing leaks.