Why Are Copper Pipes used For Plumbing? Copper plumbing is ubiquitous in Etobicoke homes and has been for decades. So it’s no surprise that questions about copper pipes are also quite common. Read on to learn everything you need to know about copper piping in residential homes.
What Is Copper Plumbing?
Copper is an elemental metal that is easy to work with and has high thermal and electrical conductivity. People have been using it for 10,000 years. This versatile metal is used to make everything from wires, utensils, roofs, jewelry and, of course, plumbing. Copper plumbing is an antique invention dating back 5,000 years to the earliest kingdoms of ancient Egypt.
The modern copper plumbing that most of us have in our homes began using around the 1930s. It is fairly easy to install, lasts a long time, and can be used for both hot and cold water; no wonder copper pipes are so popular. Until recently, copper pipes were fairly inexpensive, but since the early 2000s, the price of copper has skyrocketed.
Types of Copper Plumbing
In Canada, copper pipes are standardized. There are 4 common types of copper pipe used for plumbing. The different types differ in the relative wall thickness of the pipes. Each type can be purchased in several sizes, but the relative thickness will be standard.
- Type K is the type with the thickest wall. It is most often used for power lines outside the building, where they will be laid underground.
- Type L is thinner than Type K but still relatively thick. Type L copper pipes are most common in residential plumbing systems, especially when water is under pressure. The blueprint on them can usually identify them.
- Type M is thinner than type L. Type M pipes are also commonly used in residential plumbing systems. Being thinner, they can’t withstand as much pressure as Type L pipes, but they are cheaper. They are often marked with a red seal.
- Type DWV is the thinnest type of pipe. They are not usually used to transport water but are part of a drain-and-drain-vent system (D-W-V!) that allows air into the water systems.
Type L and Type M are the two types of pipes that most homeowners encounter. Because of those, as mentioned earlier, red and blue stamps, a common misconception is that Type L is for cold, and Type M is for hot water. This is not true; the types refer only to different pipe wall thicknesses.
Types L and M are acceptable for residential plumbing systems. Still, some local building codes may mandate only Type L. Type M is much cheaper, but may not last as long due to thinner walls, so weigh this tradeoff carefully when installing new plumbing.
There is another way to classify copper pipes: soft and rigid.
Soft copper pipe bends easily, making it easy to install in tight or cramped spaces. It is more expensive than the rigid pipe, so it is not often used in home plumbing applications except in areas where additional flexibility is needed. Soft copper pipe may also be called annealed, which refers to the metallurgical process it undergoes to make it pliable. Not all pipe sizes are available in soft form.
The most typical type of copper tubing is rigid. They are made up of long, straight pieces that are more difficult to bend by hand. To turn sharp corners, they frequently require elbow connections. Rigid pipes are less costly than their flexible counterparts. They may also be known as drawn pipes.