Copper vs Plastic Piping
For years, copper was the go-to option for piping in home plumbing systems. To be sure, copper makes a very good choice. It’s durable, rust-free and naturally anti-microbial. It also delivers trace amounts of copper, an essential mineral, into your drinking water.
For all of copper’s benefits, however, copper piping has a few serious drawbacks:
- It’s expensive. Not only is it costly to install, but its high resale value makes it very attractive to people looking for fast money. Copper is very hard to extract from natural sources, so there’s a constant high demand for recycled copper – making a home’s plumbing system an attractive target for vandals looking to make a few dollars.
- It corrodes. Although copper won’t rust over time, it can and will corrode – and the mineral composition in New Mexico soil makes copper break down faster than it does in other environments. This can lead to a metallic taste in your water and eventual weakening of your pipes.
- It can break. Copper is usually quite flexible, but it’s still prone to snapping – especially around the joints, which must be soldered.
So what’s the alternative to copper piping? PEX – or cross-linked polyethylene pipe. This plastic piping does not corrode and will last basically forever. It’s also burst-resistant and easy to install and repair due to the lack of required fitting and welding.
That said, PEX piping does have a few drawbacks:
- It can’t be used aboveground. It will break down in the sun due to UV radiation. Underground, though, it will last for decades.
- It can’t be recycled. This is good in that there will be vandals trying to steal your plastic pipes, but it may be a concern for the environmentally-conscious.
- It’s not as anti-microbial. PEX lacks the natural anti-microbial properties of copper, so there is slightly more risk of bacterial growth. However, if the plumbing system is well-maintained, this is not a very likely or threatening scenario.
Ultimately, both copper and PEX piping have their place, and it’s up to you to decide which you’d prefer. If you’re looking to get your home repiped, come talk to us about your options – we can help you decide what will be best for your needs!