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It can be intimidating for you to tackle a plumbing project on your own especially when you have to decide which pipes to buy for your plumbing task.

Plumbing pipes are made of different materials. The two most common types of plumbing pipes include copper pipes and galvanized pipes. These two types of pipes are very different from each other. Let’s analyze them in detail to determine how they are different.

Galvanized Pipes

Steel pipes are dipped in a protective coating of zinc to create galvanized pipes. The zinc coating on these pipes prevents rust and corrosion. Galvanized pipes were commonly used in plumbing of homes built before 1960. Before the introduction of galvanized pipes, lead pipes were used for water lines. These pipes weren’t suitable for plumbing because lead combines with the drinking water and affects its quality. Thus, galvanized pipes were invented as an alternative to these pipes.

Galvanized pipe has an average life span of 40 years. These pipes are usually not used in residential plumbing systems anymore, but they can still be found in many old homes. Galvanized pipe tends to corrode and discolor the water. These pipes are although rigid, but over time, rust builds up inside these pipes. In cold areas, rusted galvanized pipes can burst as water expands when frozen and pushes against the rusted metal walls.

Galvanized pipes were also used for transporting natural gas, but now other piping materials are mostly used for this purpose. The reason galvanized pipes aren’t suitable for transporting natural gas is because the zinc coating in these pipes gets eroded by natural gas and the flakes of zinc end up clogging the pipe.

The major reason galvanized pipes aren’t suitable for plumbing projects is because they can’t handle the hardness of water. Hardness refers to the combination of different minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and lime in water. When these minerals continuously pass through the pipes, galvanized coating eventually wears off. Moreover, when hard water reacts with the coating of zinc, the pipe gets corroded.

If your home was built before 1960 and hasn’t been renovated since then, there is a high chance that the water in your home is coming through galvanized pipes. You can check whether you have galvanized pipe or not by looking at your plumbing system. Newly installed galvanized plumbing pipes appear like nickel in color. But as the pipe ages, the color becomes dull or dark depending on the environment. If your plumbing pipes have been painted, you won’t be able to determine whether it is galvanized.

In that case, you can use a simply test to determine if your pipes are galvanized. Simply get a powerful magnet and a screwdriver with a flat head. Find your water pipe line and scratch the pipe’s outer surface with the help of a screwdriver. If the scratched area has a silver-gray color and magnets sticks to it, it means that galvanized pipes are used in your plumbing system.

You should get a galvanized pipe replaced by a copper pipe because these pipes contain lead and other impurities that can be harmful for you.

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes have been the standard for residential plumbing applications since the 1960s. These pipes are preferred by homeowners because of their long life and durability. Copper pipes are manufactured in four grades for home plumbing use. The heaviest copper pipe is the ‘Type K’ that is mostly used in residential plumbing projects. A slightly thinner copper pipe is the Type L that is mostly used for water lines. Type M is even lighter than Type L and it is usually used for light-duty applications. Type DMW copper pipe is extremely thin-walled and is mostly used for drainage and waste.

Copper pipes are durable and have a longer lifespan than galvanized pipes which makes them a great choice for residential as well as commercial applications. These pipes are resistant to corrosion and tolerate heat as well. Moreover, copper doesn’t degrade with water.

Copper pipes are safer than galvanized ones because they don’t contain lead. Furthermore, they have a smaller diameter and can therefore be employed in tight areas. Copper inhibits the growth of bacteria which makes it suitable for use with drinking water pipes. Moreover, the insides of copper pipes aren’t as prone to mineral deposit buildup as those of galvanized pipes are. Copper pipes can also withstand earthquakes better than galvanized pipes. Copper resists corrosion and expands in high temperature to resist bursting.

One major drawback of copper pipes is their price. Copper pipes are expensive than galvanized and other types of plumbing pipes. They are also costly to install and repair than other types of pipes. Another disadvantage of copper pipes is that they fail when the temperature of water crosses the 180 degree mark. Moreover, condensation can form inside copper pipes. When condensation inside these pipes freezes, the water flow gets blocked. Copper pipes can also cause a metallic taste in the water.

Copper Pipe is Better than Galvanized Pipes

From all the advantages that come with using copper pipes for plumbing it is clear that copper pipes are a lot better than galvanized pipes. They are more durable, have a longer lifespan and don’t contain the harmful lead. So, when you have to decide which pipe you should use for your plumbing project, opt for a copper pipe.

If your home was built before 1960 and you think that galvanized pipe may have been used in your home’s plumbing system, then get your plumbing pipes evaluated by professional technicians at Mesa Plumbing Company. Our technicians will check your plumbing system. If galvanized pipes are used and want to have them removed and replaced, our plumbers will re-pipe your plumbing system.

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