How Long Do Copper Pipes Last in a Slab? Everything You Need to Know
Any house with a proper plumbing system has one of four types of water pipes depending upon the year it was built. They are either made of CPVC, Cross-linked Polyethylene, galvanized steel, or copper.
Copper pipes are the oldest and most durable type of pipe used for home water supply. However, while copper pipes are more resistant to corrosion, they are not exactly indestructible.
If you have some idea of how the plumbing in your area works, you know that most Dallas/Fort Worth houses don’t have basements.
Most parts of Texas either have the water table or the bedrock too close to the surface, making digging a basement impossible. The clay content also expands/contracts, causing cracks in basement walls.
For this reason, most houses in Texas have concrete slab foundations with water supply pipes running in them. But how long do copper pipes last in a slab? To figure that out, we must look closely at copper pipes.
So, How Long Do Copper Pipes Last in Concrete Slabs?
Copper piping can last within the slab anywhere from five to fifty years or even longer, depending on a few factors.
The quality and type of the copper water pipe are crucial, and so is your piping’s internal and external environment.
If your copper piping were put in carefully and maintained throughout its use, it could last even a hundred years!
If you want to change your plumbing system or are suspecting a leak, give us a call! We have been doing plumbing in Fort Worth since 1969, and our seasoned staff will get your plumbing system running smoothly in no time.
Types of Copper Pipe
One factor that affects the longevity of a copper pipe is its thickness. The thicker the pipe, the more likely they are to last inside a concrete slab.
There are three types of copper pipes used for home plumbing, K-Type, L-Type, and M-Type. Let’s look at these common copper pipes and figure out which one is right for your home.
K-Type copper pipes are the thickest of all the pipes used for water supply. They are also the most durable type of copper pipes used for this purpose. These thicker pipes can withstand higher water pressure and should last for over 100 years.
Type-K pipes are not ideal for residential buildings as they are pretty expensive. However, you will see them used for underground main water lines and industrial lines for waste disposal or HVAC systems.
Slightly less thick than K-type pipes, type-L copper pipes are less expensive and ideal for homeowners. These pipes can have a life expectancy of over 50 years if they are well-maintained.
L-type pipes are much more reliable than plastic pipes or thinner copper pipes. If you are repiping your house, consider using type-L pipes, as they are more likely to last than most other ones used for home lines.
Type-L copper pipes are great for outdoor and underground lines, as they can handle environmental changes better.
M-type copper pipes are the thinnest type used for residential plumbing systems. Many people claim that these last for 50 years, but realistically they last anywhere from 5 to 20 years.
While it is slightly more expensive than PVC or PEX pipe, its main benefit is that it’s non-toxic. However, they are prone to wear and tear. And, unlike type-L pipes, they will corrode with constant exposure to highly acidic water and are more likely to cause slab leaks. They may begin as small leaks, but develop into an emergency repair.
Type-M pipes are a bad idea for DFW homes as slab movements can wear out copper pipes quickly, so installing a thin one can lead to a slab leak.
Which Copper Pipe is Best for a House Built on Concrete Slab?
While a K-type copper pipe can last for over 100 years, it is not feasible as a home water pipe. This is why L-type piping is the best for a house built on concrete slabs, as it can last for over 50 years if maintained properly and can handle rougher circumstances.
Why Are Copper Pipes Used To Supply Water to Homes?
On top of being heavy-duty, copper pipes are also bacteria-resistant and can be under natural sunlight without damage. It can handle extreme water temperatures, which makes it more convenient for home use.
Today, most new homes in Fort Worth simply use PEX. You don’t have to worry about chemical leaching with copper pipes as you may have to with PVC, but PEX doesn’t pose much risk and is much cheaper.
Copper is more expensive than plastic. Longevity will depend heavily on the quality of copper piping used for a house.
Final Thoughts on Copper Pipe Longevity
Whether you have L Type Pipes or M Type Pipes, your pipe can last for decades if you maintain it. Installing the right pipes can keep them functioning for a lifetime.
Whether you have seen a visible slab leak or just want to understand why your water bill is so high, you need to contact a professional who can get to the bottom of the issue.
Are you suspecting a leak due to wet carpeting or simply feeling like your pipes need changing? Then, call us, as our expert plumbers can help you determine your plumbing needs and find the best solution!
What is the Lifespan of Copper Pipes?
The regular copper piper lasts anywhere from 50 to 80 years. Depending on the thickness of the pipe and surrounding conditions, a quality pipe can last for even 100 years!
How Long Does It Take for Copper Pipe to rust?
Unlike steel, copper plumbing doesn’t rust quickly and can stay functional for decades. A good-quality pipe won’t rust for at least 50 years.
Does Copper Corrode in Concrete?
Copper pipe corrosion won’t occur in a concrete slab unless it has a soluble chloride. So unless it remains waterlogged or scraps against the concrete due to slab movement, you don’t have to worry about copper corrosion.