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Ron Schmelzer

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The Benefits of Using Copper in Your Home

Copper in a home has its benefits

Copper wire, copper pipes, copper tubing ... plenty of copper components exist for your home. The question is: Should you use them?

Copper may be an old solution for your repairs and household parts, but it's still a great metal with plenty of advantageous properties that beat out plastic and steel options. The next time you have to buy new materials, keep in mind the benefits that copper has to offer.

A wide range of sizes

Because copper has been used so long as a household material for piping of all kinds, it's very easy to find whatever parts you're looking for. Copper comes in a vast array of lengths, diameters, and joint types for any particular purpose, and you can find it at any plumbing store and quite a few home improvement stores, too.

This makes repairs a simple and swift affair, especially if you can bring along the broken part to match against the new product. Any contractors or professionals you bring in will also be well-versed in repairing copper systems, for that extra bit of assurance.

Relative flexibility

"Relative flexibility" refers to the way that copper pipes, wires, and tubing fit together. Compared to other metals and even hard, brittle plastic, copper is more able to bend without breaking. This may not sound like much, but it is super-handy when you're tightening pipe threads, attaching a new joint, or performing similar activities.

Copper's innate flexibility goes beyond pipes, too. If you have a repair project that involves screws or appliances, try to pick copper fasteners and copper washers so you can effect a tighter, longer-lasting fit. Copper alloys or copper with protective coverings may also be a possibility.

Thermal conductivity

Copper boasts high thermal conductivity, which means that heat energy can pass through it with very little trouble. This, of course, is one reason that copper is used so often for electrical wire: the lack of resistance makes it ideal for this purpose.

But the lack of resistance also has many other benefits if you're working with any type of heat transfer system. Heat pumps, geothermal pumps, solar energy systems ... copper plays nice with all these solutions. This means you can use smaller, cheaper copper pipes instead of larger, more expensive aluminum or steel options.

Of course, this also means that copper pipes may cool down hot water a little faster than other options, but sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.

Unique resistances

Copper has several resistances that make it unique among the metals that are used in plumbing and piping systems. People throw around the word "bacteriostatic," which means that bacteria has a tough time surviving around copper, so your pipes will stay clean more readily.

Copper also resists corrosion much more dependably than metals such as steel. When it does start to rust it creates a dull patina instead of the annoying flecks of red rust that steel gives off. Copper can also withstand long-term sunlight, which some plastic pipes may struggle with if they're located outdoors and above ground.

High melting point

This is another resistance, but it's worth a separate mention because of its particular value when it comes to wiring. Because copper has a high melting point, electrical fires are less common when electrical wires are either made of or insulated with copper. This is the reason that copper is often used for cooking ware, as well.

New purposes

Annealed and flexible copper tubing is often used in today's natural gas systems. This new type of copper tubing tends to be safer and more effective than plastic solutions for gas.

More Stories By Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks is a writer, as well as a tech, social media and environmental enthusiast, living in San Francisco. He is a contributing writer at Forbes, Technorati and The Huffington Post.