Should I Repipe with Copper?
During the 1950s and 1960s, copper gradually replaced galvanized steel as the primary material used in residential plumbing systems. Compared to galvanized steel, copper has many benefits, including corrosion resistance and ease of installation.
Starting in the 1960s, plastic piping such as CPVC and later polybutylene also became widely used. During the 1990s, PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) became the predominant plastic piping material for fresh water lines, and is now the most common repipe choice used by our customers here at Repipe Specialists.
In comparison to copper, PEX comes with many benefits, including longer lifespans, lower material costs, and lower installation costs. We have an in-depth article that covers the pros and cons of repiping with copper vs PEX.
Despite the advantages of PEX, we still have customers choosing copper for their repiping projects. Continue reading to learn more about the importance of selecting the right type of copper pipe.
What are the Different Types of Copper Piping?
There are several types of copper piping commonly used in residential and commercial applications. In this article, we are focusing on common copper piping types used for fresh water lines. In the USA, they are classified by pipe wall thickness and flexibility.
In terms of flexibility, copper pipes are either flexible or rigid:
- Flexible copper tubing: flexible, or soft copper is sold in rolls, and is used in applications that may require bending. Flexible copper is typically used outdoors or in confined spaces.
- Rigid copper pipe: rigid, or hard copper piping is sold in sections of various lengths, and are connected by soldered fittings. Rigid copper pipe is what is used most commonly in interior residential plumbing.
In terms of pipe wall thickness, there are three grades. In decreasing order of thickness: types 'K', 'L', and 'M'. Most residential plumbing utilizes rigid copper piping in either Type M or Type L thicknesses. The different grades have unique color markings.
Type M Copper Pipe - Red
Type M copper pipe has the thinnest wall thickness among the three types, making it the most affordable option.
It is used in residential plumbing, and low pressure applications like vacuum systems.
Due to Type M copper piping being significantly thinner than Type L, it is far less durable and will degrade much faster than Type L, leading to copper pinhole leaks. Some local building codes won't allow Type M copper piping for application in residential and commercial plumbing.
Type L Copper Pipe - Blue
Type L copper pipe has a thicker wall compared to Type M, providing greater strength and durability. It is commonly used for both hot and cold water distribution, as well as for general plumbing purposes.
Type L copper pipe is suitable for residential, commercial, and institutional applications.
Here at Repipe Specialists, we exclusively use Type L, American-made copper pipe for all our home repipes.
Type K Copper Pipe - Green
Type K copper pipe has the thickest wall among the three types, making it the strongest and most resistant to external forces. It is also the most expensive, and is not typically used in internal residential plumbing.
It is commonly used in high-pressure and more demanding applications such as underground service lines, fire sprinkler systems, and industrial plumbing.
Which Is The Best Type of Copper Pipe For a Replumb?
When it comes to choosing the best type of copper pipe for a replumb, we recommend using Type L copper piping.
We exclusively utilize American-made Type L copper piping for all of our copper repipes. Type L copper pipe is preferred due to its versatility and longevity, making it suitable for a wider range of applications compared to Type K, and more durable and reliable than Type M.
To learn more about replumbing with copper piping, contact us and one of our local repipe consultants will be more than happy to discuss your replumbing options with you.
Get a Quote for your Home Copper Repipe
Here at Repipe Specialists, we've fully replaced the plumbing in over 60,000 homes since 1991. A Copper repipe will save you financially into the future (we back our repipes with a lifetime warranty). We continually get positive customer feedback from customers about their overall home repipe experiences. We often exceed their expectations on:
- Speed: Our repipe crews typically complete a repipe in a day, returning on another day for wall patching.
- Convenience: Through our One-Stop Repipe™ process, we handle everything from permits, to wall patching, to inspections.
- Cleanliness: Our crews are trained to protect your home while working (we cover all surfaces with protective sheeting), and to clean up fully at the end of each day.
- Peace of Mind: Repipe Specialists is a fully licensed plumber in every state we operate in, and we back all of our repipes with a lifetime warranty.
- Financing programs: To help take the sting out of unplanned repipe expenses, we offer several financing programs.
- Price: As a specialist that performs hundreds of repipes a week, we can deliver high quality repipes at a lower cost vs generalist plumbers. We have an article that covers repipe cost factors in detail. Our quotes typically range from $4,500 to $15,000 depending on the size and complexity of your project.
Schedule a free in-home consult, and one of our local repipe consultants will explain all your Copper repipe options and provide you with a written, fixed-price quote.