Galvanized pipes, while treated to prevent corrosion, nevertheless do corrode. Mineral deposits can also build up, especially in homes that experience hard-water problems. Over the years, these mineral deposits can accumulate so that they block water flow. Another big concern is lead. Galvanized pipes and lead soldering are a major source of lead contamination in drinking water.
Copper piping is an effective alternative. Here are a few advantages to using them:
- Longer life span than galvanized pipes.
- No lead contamination.
- Copper is naturally anti-microbial, meaning it discourages bacterial growth (PVC piping, another alternative, is generally more vulnerable to bacteria buildup and microbial growth).
- Less prone to mineral buildup.
Copper pipes can be either hard, or soft (also known as annealed). Annealed copper tubing is easier to bend, and can achieve smooth, graceful curves that don’t kink or obstruct water flow.
Replacing only one plumbing fixture with copper pipes is a very doable project for the average Massachusetts homeowner. However, replacing the pipes through the rest of your house is much more difficult, and can even be dangerous because the process involves working with a blowtorch around flammable construction materials. It’s best to hire an experienced, skilled professional.
It’s possible to replace only part of your plumbing system with copper tubing, connecting it with your galvanized pipes. But the two metals must not touch each another, and each requires a different sealing and soldering technique. Dual-sided connectors, such as dielectric unions, must be used for the seams. Care must be taken with pipes that have deteriorated, and the system shouldn’t be jostled too much – leaks can spring even in areas that aren’t being retrofitted.