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Will Copper Become Obsolete

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  • Will Copper Become Obsolete

    I'm wondering if the outragous rise in copper prices will force engineers into specifing alternative materials on commercial buildings. Will copper go the way of galvanized pipe? A we the last of the copper plumbers?
    the dog

  • #2
    Probably, look what happened to CI soil pipe, black CI DWV fittings, copper DWV fittings and the list goes on and on. Change with the times or you will be left behind.

    Note: Neither the original question nor this answer deals with the question of quality vs price.
    ================================================== ====
    All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

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    • #3
      dog, i think that there are better products out there than copper right now. i'm under the impression that pex will be legal here in calif. for potable water real soon

      in the old days, american gal pipe lasted years. i still see some from the 40's still in service. copper took over and now i see some buildings repiping the copper that was put in to replace the gal pipe. blame it on flux, circulating pumps, poor craftsmanship, or the copper it self.

      pex and cpvc, i feel are a better product. the union feels it takes jobs away. if i had to repipe my house i would use pex. legal or not

      when was the last time a plumber burned down a building installing a plastic system.

      other than a few year period with non-virgin abs resin. i feel that abs is better than no hub. i see ho hub pipe that is split the entire length. also drain cleaning is so much easier and cleaner in plastic than no hub.

      well that's my opinion.

      rick.
      phoebe it is

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      • #4
        hmmmmm

        copper vs. aluminum for electrical
        alum. cons: incompatible with cu, products require cu, can not carry as much current for same size as cu, and is a poorer conductor

        alum. pros: lighter, more flexible and not as expensive - currently

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_wire

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        • #5
          Originally posted by subiemech85
          copper vs. aluminum for electrical
          alum. cons: incompatible with cu, products require cu, can not carry as much current for same size as cu, and is a poorer conductor

          alum. pros: lighter, more flexible and not as expensive - currently

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_wire
          Uh... been there, tried that! didn't work out!!!!! I do believe the discussion is PLUMBING, as in pipe, not wire.

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          • #6
            I have done some "plumbing" work i stainless steel, for laboratories, Pharmaceutical plants, and breweries, ie, stuf that usually is copper, water taps etc. A conventional plumber watching, told me that the Danish-Standard way of doing things in stainless, (as I was doing) was a completely different ball game. For durability, strength, resistance to frost, cleanliness, and especially water quality,there is no contest! (Only TIG welds, with Gas Backing allowed, if anyones going to eat, drink from, or bathe in stainless!)
            However, methods are so radically different that I don't want to compare costs, off the cuff. Generally over time, Stainless comes out on top, even though the material is just as expensive as copper, and any job is about 3 times as labour intensive as in ordinary steel, even though this is a bad comparison, as specs, & tolerances for a stainless job are allways astronomic compared with black. As I am getting more of these jobs, for "demanding" circumstances, and even some for homes where children have allergies etc, this may be an emerging trend.
            Please understand me right! I'm not saying "This is the way to go!! I'm just saying "This is what I've seen, and I'm getting some jobs of this sort, that normally would be copper plumbing.

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            • #7
              Badger Dave:

              As usual your comments are uninformed and meaningless to the discussion. Cast iron is used extensively in commercial construction today. If you were the sales rep you claim you are you would know that. You would also know that "keeping up with the times" has nothing to do with the question. Commercial projects are speced by engineers.

              Rick,

              I think you are right. But, I'm wondering how long it will take to change those specs. I'm concerned that construction willtake a downturn if material prices continue to rise.

              Someguy,

              Thanks for bring the discussion some reason and logic.

              RIR,

              I've worked in stainless alot, I don't see it as the new prevalent domestic water piping.
              the dog

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              • #8
                Originally posted by plumbdog10

                Rick,

                I think you are right. But, I'm wondering how long it will take to change those specs. I'm concerned that construction willtake a downturn if material prices continue to rise.
                dog, i need you to take your temperature, i think you might be getting kennel cough

                so do we agree

                it's nice to see that you're putting some questions out there for the forum. things have been getting a little slow here. (on the forum, not work)

                rick.
                phoebe it is

                Comment


                • #9
                  In Phila, cast iron is required for soil pipe in all residential construction. They use their own obsolete codes. Has nothing to do with performance, price, etc. - only that it is a two man job vs. a one man job with pvc, and Phila is a union dominant city.
                  I am not a plumber, but just wanted to add my 2 cents.

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                  • #10
                    Rick,

                    We do agree.

                    As you know construction is going strong in Southern California, but I'm concerned that rising material costs will evetually slow down new building and improvements. Costs have risen dramatically in every area of construction. Steel, concrete, and wood prices continue to rise, but copper has become astonomical.

                    The residential remodel and repair area of plumbing has the advantage of moving more quickly to material innovations as they become code approved. But in new commercial construction, material is almost always specified by engineers, and in most cases they are very hesitant to approve major changes in material.

                    Agent 511,

                    In California ABS and PVC are approved for drain, waste, and vent piping in residential buildings of two stories or less. Plastic pipe is not approved for commercial buildings. I am, however, seeing a trend as of late: individual juristictions approving ABS for underground soil pipe in commercial buildings. I've seen this in Orange and San Bernadino Counties.
                    the dog

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                    • #11
                      I've actually been seeing quotes with steel vs copper as an option due to the high cost of copper.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Rir
                        If you have been doing some stainless steel potable water lines i am wondering if you have tried the product called swagelok. This is a stainless steel compression style piping system. I have done one instal with this product for a high pressure 600 psi line. The product held up very well and the instal took a little bit longer than copper would have. (i know copper would not be used for this) I am not sure how much this stuff cost as i did not pay for it. but it might be worth looking into.

                        www.swagelok.com

                        I know some of you will give me or the product heat because it is compression (as plumbers we think compression is bad) but the product actually seemed pretty good.
                        Last edited by PLUMBER JAY; 10-08-2006, 06:32 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by plumb crazy purple
                          I've actually been seeing quotes with steel vs copper as an option due to the high cost of copper.
                          other than fire sprinklers, steam lines, and gas, i can't picture anyone using steel for domestic water. especially with the lousy import steel today

                          rick.
                          phoebe it is

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK
                            other than fire sprinklers, steam lines, and gas, i can't picture anyone using steel for domestic water. especially with the lousy import steel today

                            rick.

                            Well, these few quotes were for an AC water chiller system in a commercial application. 3" copper L vs. 3" steel.

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                            • #15
                              A few random thoughts..

                              Everything will become obsolete sooner or later. PEX will slowly replace a lot of copper for domestic water, just like PVC DWV did.

                              We're allowed to use PVC in commercial buildings, as long as it's not installed in a plenum space.

                              3" is usually the break-even size for switching to steel for chilled water. 2½" or less is almost always copper. Are you using threaded or grooved fittings?

                              Yeah, copper is up. Unfortunately, so is steel and everything else. Plastic is made from oil. No matter what you use, it's going to cost more.

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