Pipe Systems

Copper is the Ideal Material for Plumbing, Heating, Gas and Renewable Heating and Cooling Applications

Copper is probably the most used material for plumbing pipework in Europe.

These are the main benefits of copper tube:

Reliable and time proven: Copper has been conveying water for thousands of years: the first known installation was laid in an ancient Egyptian temple, almost 5,000 years ago.

High resistance: It can withstand extreme high and low temperatures and pressures and can be exposed to the UV rays, temperature and oxygen of outside environments.

Versatile: Copper tube is used in many services: drinking water, heating (traditional and radiant), gas, medical gases, solar energy systems, fire sprinklers, air conditioning systems. It meets the requirements of safety in an unmatched, wide range of temperatures and pressures.

Energy saving: Thanks to its excellent thermal conductivity, copper is the best material to exchange heat (or cold fluids). That’s why the most efficient radiant heating have circuits in copper tube.

Hygienic: Copper is an excellent tube material for drinking water installations. Copper pipes do not release any unknown substances into the water and copper does not allow gases to diffuse through the tube wall – this means that bad smells or other disturbing influences cannot enter the system and impair the quality of the water. The result: first rate drinking water at any time, all through the house.

Recyclable: In cases of demolition or renovation, copper tube can be 100% recycled without loss of performance; so, the volume of waste at landfill is not increased and the mine resources are not further exploited.

Healthy: The tube is made of 99.90% copper, and the composition will not change in time; no additives, volatile organic compounds or pigments are inside it. Beyond that, it is the material of choice for transport of medical gases – like pure oxygen – in hospitals.

Beautiful: Copper tube can be fitted on the outside of a wall and, thanks to its attractive look, can even be exploited to make beautiful wall radiators.

Uniformity: Copper tube and its fittings meet international standards. They are available in all European markets and components of a pipework system are exchangeable, whoever is the producer.

Drinking Water

Copper has a unique feature among the materials used for the transport of drinking water: copper piping systems can be thermally shocked to 70°C to reduce water borne bacterium, like legionella pneumophila. This helps the drinking water to be healthy. Several research papers have proved this benefit of copper, and some hospitals have decided to install copper tube for their water piping system to protect the health of their patients. In addition, copper tube will not contain additives, pigments, VOCs or other synthetic compounds.

Heating

Copper is the material of choice for heating installations, thanks to its reliability and safety. It melts at 1083°C: therefore, hot water or steam do not soften or alter the shape of the tube; high temperature does not shorten the life of the tube, and consequently the life of the installation. In addition, copper has excellent thermal conductivity and, for that reason, is the most efficient material for systems that have to exchange heat. This is the case, for example, with underfloor or under wall radiant heating: systems made with copper have shorter piping paths compared to plastic systems, which means less head loss and less energy consumption for the circulation pumps.

Gas Transport

Copper tube for gas can be placed almost everywhere: indoor and outdoor, embedded, in the ground or in dedicated structures, because it is able to meet the safety requirements for this kind of installation. Copper is not permeable to gases and air, so no leakage or contamination from outside is possible; oxygen, UV rays and temperature do not lower its mechanical properties. All over Europe copper tube is allowed by standards; designers and installers rely on it, knowing that it doesn’t burn or propagate fire (class A1 to reaction to a fire) and it provides gas-tight joints.

FAQs

Can chrome plated copper tube be formed into a bend?

Yes, with care and the correct procedure.

Can copper be used for refrigeration pipelines?

Yes. Copper tubes do not become brittle at low temperatures. The relevant standard is ‘Seamless round tubes for air conditioning and refrigeration’, BS EN 12735: 2010 Part 1: Tubes for Piping Systems, Part 2: Tubes for Equipment.

Do you need to feed solder into an integral solder ring fitting?

No, the integral solder ring fitting has the correct amount of solder to form a joint.

There are a number of types of sprinkler heads, including concealed. If you saw a concealed sprinkler head in-situ what would you see?

Only the cover plate, a disc on the ceiling.

There are two types of compression joints - Type A and Type B. Which is ‘manipulative’?

Type B is manipulative, it requires the end of the tube to be flared.

What is the British Standard for the design and installation of domestic sprinkler systems?

BS 9251.

When flux has been used in jointing copper pipework do you have to flush the pipework afterwards?

Yes, any flux left inside the pipework must be removed after jointing is complete.

When removing old copper pipework, or an old copper cylinder, can they be recycled?

Yes. Copper is 100% recyclable.

Website for home owners, self-builders and renovators. Suggestions on how to use copper in the home.

Online resources for students, teachers and plumbers on copper pipework services.