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How do I Tell the Difference Between Refrigeration and Type L Copper Tubing?

Identifying the difference between Type L copper tubing and the copper product used for refrigeration can be somewhat tricky because both are identified by the same color coding - blue - used where copper is being sold.

Measuring the open ends of a copper tube can help identify which type it is.

Identifying the difference between Type L copper tubing and the copper product used for refrigeration can be somewhat tricky because both are identified by the same color coding - blue - used where copper is being sold.  However, there are some easily identifiable traits for each of these types that can help a remodeler make sure they are using the correct copper for the job.

Type L copper pipes are typically used for residential water systems.  Copper, used for refrigeration, is designated as ACR copper.

  1. Measure the inside and outside diameter of the end of the tube. The outside diameter of Type L is always 1/8-inch larger than the size marked on the tube. The size marked on the outside of an ACR tube is the same as the outside diameter.
  2. Check the shape of the tubing. Type L copper is typically sold in straight lengths. ACR tubing is typically sold in a coil.
  3. Identify whether there are rubber or plastic caps on the end of the tubing. ACR is designed to be sold with no moisture inside the tube. It is therefore capped after it is manufactured. If there are no caps, it is generally a Type L pipe.
  4. Check the price. Because ACR is manufactured to be free of moisture, it costs more than Type L.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure

About the Author

Kurt Erickson has more than 20 years of experience writing for newspapers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Indiana. He is a 1987 graduate of Carroll College with a Bachelor of Science in communications. Erickson currently resides in Springfield, Ill., where he covers Illinois state government and politics for daily newspapers in Bloomington, Decatur, the Quad-Cities, Carbondale, Mattoon and Charleston.

Photo Credits

  • spindle of copper wire on white background image by phizics from Fotolia.com
  • spindle of copper wire on white background image by phizics from Fotolia.com