What Are the Properties of Copper Piping?

Copper is a strong and versatile metal that has been used in various applications for thousands of years.

Resistance to Corrosion

Its unique properties, such as its resistance to corrosion and its malleability, make it perfect for piping systems. Copper and copper alloys remain widely used throughout the world as the best possible piping solution for refrigeration, air conditioning, fluid transmission, and sprinkler systems. There are several unique properties of this popular and historically significant metal that make it an ideal choice for piping in various applications.

As far as resistance to corrosion, copper and copper alloys are among the best choices for piping. The oxide film that forms on copper and turns it green (like the Statue of Liberty) actually works as a protection against the elements when copper pipes are exposed, and allows for the flow of water through pipes without the worry of buildup. When water of a certain pH level is allowed to flow through copper pipes, ferrous sulfate is often added to speed up the process of building a healthy film. Depending on the velocity of fluids flowing through copper pipes, the pipes may last for decades without falling prey to corrosion from outside materials.

Strength

The strength of copper piping is unparalleled by many other materials commonly used. While it is not quite as hard as steel, copper is far less brittle, a property known as ductility. Whereas other strong metals such as steel or iron will crack and break under stress, copper's ductility allows it to bend a little bit when pressure is applied. It is also malleable, which means it will not become deformed under compression. It can be hammered, bent, rolled, and shaped into the exact right pipe size without having to be melted down and poured into a mold. The strength of copper is a huge reason for its widespread use in piping systems.

Heat Transfer

Copper, particularly when combined with other metals in an alloy, works well in condenser and heat exchanger tubes due to a property known as thermal conductivity. It is unmatched in its ability to hold and carry heat---only much more expensive materials such as silver and diamond have better thermal conductivity than copper. Copper pipes can hold transfer cold and hot temperatures very easily, accounting for its popularity in cooling, refrigeration, and heating systems. Alloys of copper sometimes work even better than copper itself due to their durability.

About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including Peternity.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.