Do you want to know how long copper pipes last? People choose copper for their home’s water pipe thanks to its strength and longevity, making copper the most common piping option available today.
However, you might wonder how long copper lasts in different conditions and how it compares to other plumbing materials.
In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:
- How long do copper pipes last?
- Humidity: How long do copper pipes last in Florida?
- Dry heat: How long do copper pipes last in Arizona?
- Hard water: How long do copper pipes last with hard water?
- Slab: How long do copper pipes last in concrete?
|What's In This Guide?|
How Long Do Copper Pipes Last?
Copper pipes last anywhere between 75 – 100 years, but it depends on the conditions and how well the homeowners keep up on plumbing maintenance.
Corrosion (rusting of metal) is the main cause of copper pipe deterioration, but it can also happen due to excessive pressure caused by a clogged drain or age.
Copper Pipe Compared to Other Materials
Copper pipe and PEX pipe (or PVC pipe) are the most common residential piping options. Copper pipe tends to last longer when properly cared for, but PEX pipe is more flexible, less expensive, and won’t succumb to corrosion.
Learn more about the advantages of PEX piping here.
You may also have the option to use galvanized pipes depending on your area. This is an alternative metal option, but copper pipe resists corrosion more effectively than both steel and iron. Iron may also reduce the quality of the household’s potable water. Lead pipes have been phased out, so we won’t even cover those.
- Cast iron – 120 years
- Iron – 100 years
- PVC – 70 years
- Polyethylene – 70 years
More Things to Know About How Long Copper Pipes Last in a Home
The main factors that determine how long your copper water pipe will last include humidity, dry heat, hard water, and location.
Humidity: How long do copper pipes last in Florida
When copper pipes experience excessive levels of humidity common in Florida and Louisiana, they become “sweating” copper pipes.
Sweating copper pipes refer to pipes that are dripping water due to condensation.
As we learned in science class, condensation occurs when hot air comes into contact with cold temperatures, such as when cool water from a home’s water supply comes into contact with warm humid weather.
Condensation on the pipe expediates the corrosion process and reduces the lifespan of the pipes, which can lead to pinhole leaks. A pinhole leak is a tiny leak that doesn’t necessarily create a lot of immediate damage but gets larger and creates more damage over time.
Corrosion can also get rust and copper into your drinking water, lowering the quality of the water and possibly creating a minor health hazard.
The greatest solution involves insulating your exterior copper pipe with pipe insulation products. Of course, this only works when you have access to the pipes.
You can also prevent corrosion by reducing hot water to no more than 120 degrees.
Dry Heat: how long do copper pipes last in Arizona
Copper conducts heat well. Copper pipes in Arizona don’t face corrosion as much as in a moist area, such as Florida.
It’s important to remember that copper pipes in Arizona can still succumb to freezing and must be prepared for freezing temperatures to avoid a burst pipe.
In order to prevent freezing pipes in areas with dry heat, adhere to the following regulations:
- Shut off water to outdoor faucets
- Drain pipes properly before cold snap
- Use freeze-proof faucets outdoors
- Promote warm air circulation around plumbing
- Set water heater to the minimum temperature at all times
Read our review of the best freeze proof outdoor faucets to buy the best outdoor faucet for your home in both dry heat conditions and moist conditions.
Hard Water: how long do copper pipes last with hard water
Hard water refers to water with high mineral content.
If you receive hard water at your home, the minerals remain in your plumbing, accumulating over time and potentially causing a clog or damaged plumbing. While potentially damaging to your plumbing over time, mineral deposits generally don’t impact the quality of the potable water entering your home.
The best way to reduce the damage of copper pipes caused by hard water, you can install a water softener at your water supply.
Alternatively, you will need to clean all mineral deposits you notice developing on the different fixtures of your home. To clean the sediment buildup inside of your pipes, you can use natural drain cleaners that rely on natural enzymes to eat and dissolve natural materials.
Slab: how long do copper pipes last in concrete
Many homes in the South use a slab foundation and don’t have basements.
While cost-effective and strong, pipes underneath the slab are especially difficult to access. Luckily, copper pipes under concrete slab foundations tend to last a long time, 80 – 100 years, when insulated properly and maintained properly.
If a problem does occur, repairs require more extensive work due to the difficulty in accessing them.
First, you will need to determine if you have a damaged plumbing pipe underneath the slab foundation. Signs of a slab leak include:
- Expensive water bills
- Low water pressure
- Excessive moisture on the foundation
If you determine that you do have a problem when you check for an underground leak, you will want to perform repairs as quickly as possible to prevent even more expensive repairs down the road.
Have more questions about slab leaks? Read our article on What Is a Slab Leak for how to identify a slab leak and what to do if you do have a slab leak.
Final Thoughts On How Long Copper Pipes Last
You want long-lasting materials for your plumbing system to prevent extensive plumbing maintenance and plumbing repair down the road.
Copper piping provides you with a great option for new construction and pipe replacement for both commercial plumbing and residential plumbing.
FAQs on Copper Plumbing Pipes
How Long Do Copper Pipes Last?
Copper pipes last anywhere from 50 to 100 years depending on the conditions and how well you maintain the copper pipes.
How often should copper pipes be replaced?
Copper pipes should be replaced every 50 – 80 years, depending on how well they are performing.
How do I know if my copper pipes need replacing?
Signs that you need to replace your copper pipes include:
- Visible corrosion
- Visible sediment buildup
- High water bills
- Excessive moisture around plumbing
- Low water pressure
Do copper water pipes wear out?
Yes, copper pipes eventually wear out.
With that being said, copper water pipes are a great option, making them one of the most popular piping materials used in homes today.
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