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Plastic vs Copper

Should I have copper pipes or plastic pipes for my boiler install?

Since the 1960s, plastic piping has been one of the go to option for plumbing and boiler heating systems.  Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) has evolved into a strong, lightweight and durable option for central heating systems (and lots of other plumbing piping for that matter). But on older homes, you won’t find plastic piping, you will find copper.  Copper piping has always been a great option for water piping.  It is strong, flexible and easy to shape and mould for the tight spaces in between walls and under floors.

So which is better?

Well the first thing we need to address is the difference in cost.  Copper is more expensive that PVC piping.  And not by a little bit.  The cheap PVC piping is one of the reasons they became a popular choice 50-60 years ago as building developers and home owners alike wanted a cheaper option than copper piping.

So advantage one goes to PVC piping as it is cheaper. But does that mean it is inferior?

Well interestingly PVC plastic plumbing pipes are quieter at higher pressure and where the water inside the pipes is rushing through the system.  Plastic is corrosion resistant and because of its flexibility, is also resistant to low impact damage.

That flexibility also makes it easier to install as piping can be cut and fitted far more easily than copper pipes though the joints between pipes is a known weak point.

However….it is not some kind of wonder piping.  Mice and Rats love to chew on plastic piping so there are some occasions where plastic piping will simply lead to trouble if you fit it.

Copper Piping has always been a popular choice for water piping in older homes (as well as a lot of newer properties) because it is strong and can fit into tight spaces.  It is also, aesthetically speaking, a nicer pipe to look at than PVC piping.  Especially if the piping is exposed to the naked eye.

Beyond that however, copper piping can corrode, especially if the water in your area is of a higher, more acid pH rating. As we have said, copper piping is also a lot more expensive than PVC piping and noisier, which may sound like a strange thing to comment on but if you can hear water rushing behind a wall in your home, it can be a little bit disconcerting.

So which is better?  Copper or PVC?

There is not much of a difference between the two materials when it comes to overall performance and both have their own unique advantages.  What you generally find is that a boiler installer like ourselves will prefer each one on a case by case basis. Plastic piping is cheaper so if you are looking for a cheap boiler install cost then plastic piping will be the go to option.  If money is no object, you can’t beat the visual aesthetic look of copper pipes knowing that they will last the test of time.


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