For years, plumbers and handymen have argued over which is best for your home’s plumbing: PVC or copper piping. Like any two-option scenario, each has their own pros and cons, but there is no need to worry, Ohio Buckeye Plumbing is here to help! We put together some pros and cons for you so you can figure it out more easily (or give us a call, and we can help you decide further).
Copper pipes were once the only option for in-home plumbing, so most older homes have copper pipe systems already set up. Copper is a strong, flexible, and naturally- occurring metal that can be used to form pipes with very thin walls that are still very strong. It’s often a professional’s first choice, but there are some downsides (like adding a bad taste to your water that you might not be a fan of).
- Last longer than PVC pipes (when the water running through is not acidic)
- Fits into tighter spaces (for small spaces, copper pipes thin walls that are low-profile are ideal)
- Resist vibration damage compared to PVC pipes due to being more flexible at the joints. (Great for areas that are earth-quake zones)
- Copper is cleaner as it is simply metal and contains no chemicals compared to PVC pipes.
- Lower health risk
- High resistance to chlorine in normal municipal water conditions
- Can be used outdoors
- Completely recyclable
- Life span of 70 plus years
- Resistant to bacteria growth
- Accepted in municipal codes all across America
- Cost is significantly higher compared to PVC pipes
- Prone to bursting if they freeze
- Pinhole leaks can develop in acidic or corrosive water conditions
- Harder to install and requires more fittings and joints than PVC pipes
- Water may produce a metallic like taste
- Noisier than PVC pipes, especially when at higher pressures
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a strong, lightweight, and durable plastic compound that plumbers have used as pipes for years. This plumbing material is the main alternative in most new homes and is especially favored to help with reduction of theft and gutting of vacant homes.
- Resistant to corrosion, abrasions, and impact damages better than copper pipe because plastic doesn’t corrode. PVC pipe is thicker than copper which also helps with impact damages and abrasions.
- Less noise compared to copper piping, even with higher water velocities and speeds
- Easier installation vs copper pipes, especially for do-it-yourself enthusiast
- Significantly cheaper than alternative option
- Due to thicker material and resistance to impact damages, PVC is better for areas exposed to high-traffic areas
- Doesn’t freeze as easily compared to copper, PVC doesn’t conduct heat as well as copper does
- Doesn’t last as long due to cement used to bond the joints can break down and leak over time
- Joints aren’t as flexible
- Risk of chemical contamination of water running through the pipe, although no links have been found PVC and health issues
- Can’t fit into tighter spaces due to the thicker material
- Produces a plastic taste in water
- More delicate during installation (if dropped or stepped on it can crack)
- Solvents used to join fittings and pipes need to be well-ventilated during instillation
- Inner CPVC pipe can support bacteria growth
Knowing your home and what works best for it can help you to determine the best material to use. Location, age, and type of water system also make an impact in the decision to use a specific material. If your home already uses one material, and you are happy with it then stick to what has been working. If you are replacing the pipes or building a new home and need to decide the right material, you’ll need to consider whether you live in a high-traffic area and the acidity of the water in your area (you should also choose based on whether you live in an Earthquake zone, but we don’t really have that problem here in Cleveland—usually).
And as always if you are still unsure or would like a professional opinion, call your local plumber. For more information on copper and PVC pipes, or any plumbing needs call Ohio Buckeye Plumbing today.