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Whether you are purchasing a home or remodeling an existing home, you will need to find out if your home plumbing system uses copper or CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) piping. Both types of piping have their own advantages and disadvantages. The Builders Websource Tech Notes explores the pros and cons of the piping including application, environmental consideration, cost, and the health effects.

Benefits of CPVC pipe include:

  • Resistance to corrosion and abrasion
  • Smooth bore for improved flow and reduces water noise
  • High impact strength
  • Easy, cost-effective installation
  • Competitively priced vs. copper
  • Lightweight reduces heavy lifting
  • Less subject to job site theft
  • Self-insulating to minimize thermal loss
  • Integral flame retardancy and low smoke density
  • Pressure rating of 100 PSI @ 180° F, 400 PSI at 73° F
  • Short-term pressure rating > 200 PSI
  • Flexibility virtually eliminates water hammer (no water hammer arrestors required under normal conditions)
  • Inert to acidic soils and corrosive water supplies
  • Can be buried directly under slabs with no chemical interaction with concrete
  • Non-conductive
  • Eliminates pressure leaks at solder joints
  • Easy for DIY’ers
  • Virtually no sweating or condensation
  • Relative price stability over time

Considerations of CPVC pipe include:

  • Generally limited to 1/2″ to 2″ Copper Pipe Size
  • Some complaints of “plastic taste” in water
  • Fittings and pipe subject to cracking or damage on job site if dropped or stepped on
  • Solvents used to join fittings and pipe contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are known pollutants and require proper ventilation during installation
  • Subject to melting during a fire (becomes viscous at 395° F)
  • High coefficient of expansivity (1 inch in 50 feet over 50-degree temperature change) (3.4×10 -5 in/in/°F)
  • Inner CPVC pipe surface can support the growth of bacteria including legionellae pneumophilia (ref. A Comparison of the Colonization by Bacteria of Copper and Other Materials Commonly
  • Used in Plumbing Systems with Special Reference to Legionella Pneumophila)
  • Due to ease of installation, CPVC is sometimes installed by less skilled labor, potentially resulting in more frequent incidence of improper workmanship.
  • Subject to cracking during earthquakes
  • Generally requires a 24-hour cure period before pressurizing with water

Standards and code compliance (eg. FlowGuard Gold®)

  • Meets or exceeds ANSI/NSF Standard 61 for potable water
  • Meets of exceeds all ASTM and industry standards
  • Meets model building codes, BOCA National Plumbing Code, National Standard Plumbing Code,
  • Standard Plumbing Code, Uniform Plumbing Code, CABO 1- and 2-Family Dwelling Code, Canadian Plumbing Code
    There is no correct answer for which piping the best, the plumbing will depend on your needs.