Piping Hot: Choosing The Best Materials For Your Building's Hot Water Piping

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Harry's Home Improvement Blog

Hello, my name is Harry and this is my home improvement blog. Welcome! On this blog, I will be discussing many different home improvement and construction topics. I should explain that I am not a professional contractor. However, I have just come to the end of a home renovation project which took over 2 years to complete. During that time, I worked with dozens of different contractors in order to get my house into shape. I have spent hours working alongside plumbers, electricians, surveyors and roofing specialist. I learnt so much about their different trades that I decided to start this blog.

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Piping Hot: Choosing The Best Materials For Your Building's Hot Water Piping

27 July 2017
 Categories: , Blog


Durable, reliable hot water piping is an essential component of any building, and is vital for providing your building's boilers, faucets and heating systems with all the heated water they require to function. With that in mind, great importance is placed in the materials used to make hot water piping, since it will have to endure the substantial strain of funnelling heated, pressurised water for extended periods throughout the day.

A number of materials are used to fabricate hot water piping, and all of them can be used effectively under the right circumstances. However, these materials have their own unique properties, pros and cons, so if you are having hot water piping installed in your building you should decide well in advance what material they will be made from. The most common hot water piping materials are listed below, along with the advantages and disadvantages:

Copper

Long considered the gold standard of materials for both hot and cold water piping, copper has a number of properties that make it ideal for funnelling hot water. For starters, it is completely immune to rust, developing its own protective layer of oxide when it comes into contact with water. It is also very easy to work with, and particularly easy to bend using methods such as induction bending, so copper piping can be quickly fabricated to fit even the most labyrinthine of hot water systems. 

Unfortunately, copper is also one of the most expensive hot water piping materials, and fitting out a large building with piping made solely of copper can be prohibitively expensive -- using limited copper piping in vital areas alongside cheaper materials for less heavily-used piping is a common solution. Exposed copper piping also presents a very attractive target to scrap metal thieves.

Steel

Extremely strong and relatively inexpensive, steel hot water piping is a common choice for large buildings, as extensive piping networks can be fabricated and fitted on a relatively modest budget. The ease with which steel can be welded is a particular advantage, allowing pipe elbows, splitters and valves to be fitted and retrofitted very easily. The tremendous strength of steel also makes it highly suited to high pressure applications, excellent for pipes that have to transport hot water over longer distances.

However, unprotected steel will corrode very quickly when exposed to hot water, so if you choose steel piping it will need some kind of protective coatings to prevent the formation of rust. Galvanised coatings are a popular and inexpensive choice, and can last for several years before reapplication is required. Powder and thermoplastic coatings are more expensive, but can be expected to last much longer.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel essentially has (nearly) all the advantages of regular steel, while avoiding its one major disadvantage. The addition of small amounts of chrome to the steel during forging render it completely resistant to rust and corrosion, but this added chrome does not reduce the strength of the metal in any way.

This rust resistance sadly comes at a price, and you can expect to pay far more for stainless steel piping than identical pipes made from regular steel, even when factoring in the cost of applying coatings). Unlike conventional steel, stainless steel is also much more difficult to weld, requiring specialised training and tools to pull off effectively -- this can make elbows and junctions much harder to fit and more likely to fail. For more information, contact a business such as Degree C Pty Ltd.