What is Copper Pipe
Copper plumbing is a long-lasting, tried and true piping that many plumbers swear by.
Copper plumbing is widely accepted by all plumbing codes, is malleable enough to be bent
and manipulated by plumbers to snake a pipe through a tight spot or a curve, and can often
increase the resale value of a home. Copper often is smaller in diameter than PVC plumbing
thus taking up less space. Organisms can't survive in copper.
PVC and Hot Water
PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. This type of pipe is less expensive than other types,
resists cracking and isn't affected by acids. It is manufactured in white, gray and clear, and can be rigid or flexible.
Because of its strength and resilience, PVC is used for many things. Depending on its width, it can be used to move liquid and gases safely. Because of its composition, PVC is limited to carrying liquids at temperatures less than 140 degrees, making PVC unsuitable for carrying hot water.
CPVC for Hot Water
CPVC stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. A free radical process replaces a portion of the
hydrogen present in PVC with chlorine. CPVC has similar uses as PVC. However, because of the chlorinating process, CPVC is able to withstand higher pressures and temperatures. CPVC has an upper temperature tolerance of 180 degrees, so it can be used for hot water pipes.
Water can sometimes seem loud, or "hammer," when copper plumbing is used. If oxidation occurs, drinking water may have a slight metallic taste. Also, because copper plumbing entails soldering, it is not nearly as easy to install as PVC piping. The resale value of copper plumbing, which is far greater than other forms of plumbing, makes it a potential target for theft.
PVC Plumbing Cons
Some detriments of using PVC plumbing include the fact that the piping is polyvinyl chloride, a resin that can--in the event of a fire--release toxic materials that can potentially be fatal. PVC plumbing is not as durable as copper, and could crack or become damaged in the event of an earthquake or any structural damage suffered by a building. PVC plumbing is not available in as many sizes as copper plumbing.
PVC plumbing is less expensive than copper plumbing. Since the price of copper fluctuates, at times this difference can be significant. And because copper plumbing installation often requires greater skill than PVC, a homeowner can save money using PVC plumbing.
Pipe Safety Concerns
Both PVC and CPVC are polymer products and will melt in a building fire. CPVC especially has been found to harbor bacteria on the interior surface. All PVC and CPVC piping is joined using cements that are known pollutants and toxins. Ventilation is vital during the installation process. Finally, because these products are lower priced, they are sometimes installed by inferior laborers. It is important to check the credentials of every technician.