The plumbing in your home is a vital part of the overall function of your house. Without pipes that work properly, you would be left in a real predicament. The piping in your home might not be something you think about often, but it’s important to know what kind of pipes you have and if they’re safe.
Plastic pipes are common in today’s new construction of homes, but many homes have copper pipes, too. We’ve all heard about the dangers of lead, but what about copper? Are copper pipes safe? If you’re wondering what the advantages and disadvantages of copper pipes are, here is some information.
Advantages of Copper Pipes
Copper pipes have been used in plumbing for many years. Some plumbers prefer working with copper because it’s easily installed and requires fewer tools during installation. Copper pipes are durable. They resist snapping and bacteria growth.
One of the main strengths of copper is that it won’t degrade in UV light. Unlike plastic pipes which are only for indoor use, copper pipes can be used in areas exposed to natural light.
Disadvantages of Copper Pipes
Copper piping is expensive. It can cost 10 to 15 times more when compared to other types of pipe. Copper may also freeze easily. If your home runs on well water, copper pipes could have problems if the water is acidic.
In addition, copper pipes in new homes may have a problem with copper working its way into the water that you drink. When water stands idle in the pipes, the copper can leach into the water.
New copper pipes often leach more than old ones. Old pipes have a coating from years of hard water running through them. The coating of minerals keeps copper from contaminating the water.
Old pipes aren’t foolproof, however. Copper used to be joined with solder containing lead. The lead can foul the water. In addition, should the water’s pH balance change, mineral buildup can dislodge.
You can take steps to protect your water. A simple method is to run the tap before you use water. If the water has not been turned on for more than six hours or overnight, you should clear the pipes before using it for cooking or drinking.
Do this by running the water until you feel it getting colder, approximately 30 to 60 seconds. Never use hot water from the tap for cooking or drinking. Hot water will dissolve copper more quickly than cold water.
Read our previous blog to learn more about protecting your water from lead contamination. You can also contact your water department to learn how to test your water.