While the use of copper pipe dates back at least to Egyptian civilization, with some 4,500-year-old examples still around in the Pyramids, the general adoption of copper as the main pipe material didn’t happen in the U.K. until the latter half of the 20th Century. Before that, lead was widely used, which while tough, durable, and easy to work with, also proved deadly to human health as water sitting in a lead pipe became quickly contaminated with it.
With the banning of lead as a pipe material, copper seemed the obvious choice to replace it. It has natural antibacterial properties, it is immune to ultraviolet light and so can be used in external applications as well as internal. Copper can also be exposed to greater heat than would be the case with various types of plastic piping. Its heat transference is also very good, making it ideal in central heating systems.
While we shouldn’t expect pyramid-like levels of longevity, modern copper is still very durable and mostly corrosion-resistant. It can be used to carry many mediums, with copper pipe carrying such diverse fluids as water, oil, gas, and food substances.
A longer read on the many advantages of copper can be found here. Copper also has 100% recyclability making it one of the most sustainable and green materials out there and ideal for the new sustainable energy industry.
The Downsides of Copper.
As with any metal, copper is subject to the fluctuations of international markets, and lately, the trend has been to keep copper prices high as the demand for it increases. This has made it, at least in the short to medium term, a premium-priced product. Generally speaking, it is not a DIY-friendly product in comparison with plastic piping. Copper requires some skill in joining and installation and is best left to the professionals. While Copper is generally corrosion resistant, certain modern cleaning products, if misused or overused, can lead to copper becoming pitted and corroded. It is always wise to consult the instructions in selecting a cleaning product.
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