Burying Polyethylene vs. Copper type K Pipe: Pros/Cons??

Hello All,
We will be replacing the buried galvanized pipe that runs from our house to the city water line ("curbstop").
Our plumber has offered us two options (equivalent price): Polyethylene or "Copper type K". We are complete novices, and know nothing about these options. He says that he prefers the plastic (polyethylene) because he feels it's more durable (much less likely to leak), but he has given us the choice since he recognizes that a lot of people are uncomfortable burying plastic.
Any advice about the pros and cons of these choices would be greatly appreciated. For background: we are in the Washington, DC suburbs, and the house is about 60 years old (with copper pipes inside).
Thanks!
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He's ripping you off charging the same for PE tubing as K copper.
Gary Quality Water Associates
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What Gary is saying is, The copper will cost much more than the PE will. I would say take the copper and run. And if the old Galv. pipe was part of the elec. ground the copper will be much better than the plastic. hehe Dale
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Many thanks for the info. There seems to be a heck of a lot of knowledge on this board.
May I ask why you say "take the copper and run"? What would the advantages and disadvantages be of copper vs. PE (aside from the grounding issue)? Is it true that PE would be more durable?
Thanks again!
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For the job you want to do, 200 psi rated PE can't be beat.. PE goes in real easy in one piece (rolls up to 500' are very common) and the cost is WAY less than copper, especialy K copper. That's per foot and I'm sure for installation too. PE doesn't corrode from electrical currents and disimilar metals which can be a problem for copper. Soil doesn't effect PE as it does copper. PE adds nothing to the water like copper can. Noting in water can harm PE, very much unlike copper. IMO, there is no advantage to buried copper. For electrical grounding of your panel box if your present line is being used as the building ground electrode, get good ground rod grounds done (first, you don't want to not have the electrical ungrounded).
Gary Quality Water Associates
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Like Gary said, The take the copper and run comment was for the HUGE cost difference between PE and "K" copper. Would cost the installer much more for the copper. (did he not say same price for ether?) And anything over 60' with copper means sweat joints buried. I install mostly PE on water service change outs (after the fist 10' out of the building that the city requires for grounding) unless the homeowner really wants copper the whole way.
--
Dale
The above is the opinion of the author only and not his spouse,
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I like to put 1" plastic in 4" pvc sleeve.
Try not to make too many harsh bends and you can pull a whole new line through hundreds of feet of it.
Had to put in a 2" CU main recently and dirt boy dug it up twice.
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Solder joints should never be allowed underground.(this is not an opinion)
(Opinion here) If it were my house it would be k-copper period. kenny b
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Kenny -- why do you prefer copper so strongly?
btw, it's a very straight and short shot from the house to the curb (less than 35'? I'm guessing here).
What should I expect the cost difference to be between the two materials?
snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net (kenny b) wrote in message

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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Wondering) wrote in message

A 45ft coil of 3/4" k-copper is under $100 (List), 100ft coil of PE about half that cost. Cost is not the issue here, for the job your doing it's insignificant. I've been around awhile and in my time copper has proven itself over and over, plastic has not. I've heard the same argument back in the 70's and early 80's. Today I'm replacing those same plastic services. Im not saying todays materials haven't changed but why even take a chance when the cost is so close. In the older cities many services are replaced by pulling to avoid excess excavation, tough to pull plastic. I do use plastic on services at times when long (200-300ft plus) and the service is increased to 1-1/2" or 2". The savings here are greatly increased and joints are reduced. You should always check with your local building dept. or issuing water authority. I think you'd get the same response from most plumbers that have been around in my time frame. kenny b kenny b
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Amazing resource, this board. Thanks again for weighing in everyone. An additional question:
I asked the plumber about the grounding issue, and he said that if the electrical ground does go to the galvanized steel pipe at present, he could just leave it (part of it?) in the ground for grounding purposes, and run the water itself through the PE (if that's the route we choose to go). This would prevent the need to bring in an electrician to sink a metal grounding rod.
Make sense? Safe?
Happy Holidays to all.
snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net (kenny b) wrote in message

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The galvanized is being replaced I presume, because it is full of rust, or holey. IMO it won't make as good a ground if it were new, as copper. I think it's a bad idea to save what $100 to put in a couple new ground rods? And what happens when the building doesn't have a good ground......
As to the type of material for a water line. The quality of the water should be the only factor involved. The NSF disallows copper if the pH is <6.5 (is it?) for very good reason. Copper and the human body don't mix well.
As to plastic lasting. In this case note that no one has said/claimed that PE, which has been used for 35 years, has any longevity problems. Also note that gas and water companies aren't using metal, they do lot of plastic. Copper is too expensive for water companies but also note that when it wasn't, they never used it for their distribution lines. This isn't a case where a favorite material should be used overall simply because 'it has always been used', it is a case where the wrong choice can cause serious health and monetary damages. And there's a bunch of problems all over the waorld with the MISuse of copper.
Gary Quality Water Associates
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I amazed you US lot use copper pipework to the house. In the UK, blue MDPE is used exclusively, although old connections may be steel, iron or even lead, if ancient. If I was to guess which would last longest, it would have to be the MDPE. It looks indestructable. It isn't the same stuff that we use inside.
But then, in Europe, we never had that polybutylene crap to put us off plastic.
Christian.
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Plastic may be a problem. It is not that much cheaper. How much more would the copper cost? $100 max. I think. IMHO plastic is not acceptable in Seattle WA. where studies may have shown that plastic is permeable. Plastic is used in Europe. It most likely was invented there. Copper can be affected by galvanic activity in the soil and water. If the water supply pH is less than 7.0 copper should be avoided! Plastic end fittings are flow restrictive. The plastic end fittings should be installed by a competent plumber resulting in a leak free installation. Good luck with your plastic.
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Well, it's been exclusively used for a long time now, and I've never heard anyone suggest it causes more problems than buried metal, which tends to corrode and be far more brittle.

Very fractionally, and normally only problematic for gas applications. Underground plastic gas pipe is just made extremely thick to reduce the permeability. Water pipes are either not bothered by gas permeability, as a bit of oxygen won't hurt, or contain a gas barrier layer, depending on how important it is in a specific application.
We tend to install gas barrier piping in hydronic central heating applications to reduce oxygen ingress, which may lead to corrosion in radiators and other ferrous parts, although it is mainly a theoretical risk. Mains water tends to be so entrained with oxygen anyway, that barrier pipe is simply not needed.
Christian.
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I've researched this subject extensively. Local politically driven codes rather than actual factual research aside, plastic, specifically PE, has no proven problems, but copper certainly does. There are millions of water wells in the US alone and many of them, maybe the majority actually, use PE for both the drop pipe for jet or submersible pumps and the underground line from the well. Some of those systems are in place for 40+ years without problems of any kind. My house, built in 1953, has PE from the city water line in the street into the basement although I don't believe it is original but it is elderly. PE tubing comes in various psi ratings with 200 psi being the latest to my knowledge and it is tough stuff.
Gary Quality Water Associates
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Like I said before, I use plastic, but...
I have noticed that plastic has an odor to it. All odor is actual particles.
IE, you smell a fart you have consumed shiet.
Just wunderin
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