When it comes to air compressors, the most commonly used type is a reciprocating electric compressor. However, depending on the intended use and other factors, selecting the appropriate type of compressed air piping may be necessary.
One option that has gained popularity in recent years is copper pipe. While copper has historically been used for waterlines and hydronic heating systems, it can also be used as compressed air lines with great success. This guide will introduce some considerations and installation techniques associated with using copper pipe for an air compressor.
What is Copper Pipe?
Copper pipe is a type of pipe made from copper which is used for a variety of plumbing applications. Copper is a malleable, ductile metal that is particularly resistant to corrosion and will last longer than many other metals.
This makes it the ideal material for plumbing applications that can withstand extreme temperatures and pressure. This article will discuss the advantages of using copper pipe for an air compressor.
Advantages of Copper Pipe
Using copper piping for plumbing is a popular choice as it has several advantages over other types of pipe. It is extremely durable, corrosion-resistant, and generally requires less maintenance than other types of pipe. Copper also has a relatively long service life, making it an economical choice in the long run.
When using copper piping, the sound of running water is minimized due to its high thermal conductivity, which helps to dissipate heat quickly. Additionally, copper pipes are easy to install and have fewer connections and joints than other materials, which reduces the risk of leaks. Furthermore, they come in various sizes and lengths to suit almost any job.
Copper pipe can also withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -20°F (-29°C) up to 450°F (232°C). This is useful when installing pipelines carrying hot liquid or steam as it will keep them from fracturing or weakening due to fluctuating temperatures or pressure build-up.
In addition, copper pipes do not require special primers or coatings for installation compared to other materials like PVC or galvanized steel that require a protective coating to prevent corrosion.
Disadvantages of Copper Pipe
Copper pipes are a popular and widely used choice for home plumbing; however, they are not without drawbacks. Copper pipes are prone to corrosion from sulfuric acid, making them unsuitable for use with sewage unless a protective coating is applied.
In snowy climates, copper can also become brittle due to extreme temperatures or other environmental factors, leading to breaks or cracks in the pipe over time. The cost of copper piping can be significantly higher than that of plastic piping options.
This is partly due to the higher installation cost, as setup and labor fees associated with working with copper often represent a large portion of the total cost. Homeowners should also be aware that the soldering of copper pipes involves toxic fumes and must be done properly through ventilation so as not to allow any dangerous fumes into your home.
Is Copper Pipe Suitable for Air Compressors?
Pipes and hoses are essential to air compressor systems, and choosing the right pipe material is important. Copper is a popular option for air compressors, as it is strong and corrosion-resistant. However, some things to consider before opting for copper pipe for your air compressor. Let’s explore if the copper pipe is suitable for air compressors.
Advantages of Using Copper Pipe for Air Compressors
Copper pipes are known for their resistance to corrosion and high heat stability, making them an ideal choice for air compressors. Copper is also a highly malleable material, making it easy to install and manipulate. When combined, strength, durability, flexibility, and low-cost features make copper pipes an attractive option when installing air compressor systems.
The natural properties of copper make it a good choice for cold water supply lines, including those used in air compressors. It is also significantly more durable than other piping materials such as plastic or rubber, plus it is non-toxic and non-flammable.
As well as being resistant to corrosion and temperature extremes, copper pipes provide excellent noise reduction compared to other materials when used with certain equipment types, such as pipework compressors. This ensures the air compressor has minimal impact on its surroundings, providing a quieter working environment.
Additionally, copper pipes are simple to maintain, being easily fixed should any problem arise. Further advantages include being easy to join with no specialist tools needed and requiring no lining or insulation when buried beneath the ground, offering time savings when installing an air compressor system over other piping materials like lead or steel pipes.
Ultimately this makes investing in copper pipes more cost-effective than other piping varieties due to their versatility and usability in almost any environment.
Disadvantages of Using Copper Pipe for Air Compressors
The most common disadvantage of using copper pipe for an air compressor is corrosion. Over time, copper piping exposed to moist air can become corroded due to the moisture it absorbs. This corrosion can damage the air compressor and make it unreliable over time.
Additionally, this corrosion can lead to a buildup of dirt and debris in the pipes, which will decrease the efficiency of your system’s efficiency and potentially cause major damage.
Corrosion can also lead to decreased pressure within the pipes, causing them to fail prematurely without regular maintenance. Furthermore, copper pipes do not provide air-tight seals needed by most air compressors; when a copper pipe begins to corrode, leaks are more likely to occur, which may cause further damage to the equipment and potentially increase energy costs as well.
Copper pipes may be suitable for low-power applications depending on how they were installed and how often they are maintained; however, when used with high-power operations such as an air compressor, they need even more attention and maintenance due to their susceptibility to corrosion caused by moisture in the air.
Expert advice should be sought before undertaking any work with your system’s piping materials to ensure effective results that will last you for years without significant repair or replacement costs.
Alternatives to Copper Pipe
While copper pipe can be used in air compressors applications, it is not always the best option. Other materials like galvanized steel, synthetic rubber, and thermoplastic may also be used to supply air to the compressor, depending on cost, durability, and availability. Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages so it is important to evaluate them carefully before making a decision.
Galvanized steel is one of the most economical options for air compressors as it offers excellent strength and resistance to corrosion. Galvanized steel is also readily available and easy to work with. On the downside, this material can corrode when exposed to certain elements and chemicals that may be present in an air compressor system.
Synthetic rubber hose is very lightweight and flexible, which makes installation easy, but it does have a shorter lifespan than other materials when exposed to abrasive particles or hot temperatures. Additionally, synthetic rubber hoses need more frequent inspection than other materials due to their susceptibility to stress cracking over time if not regularly maintained or replaced.
Thermoplastic tubing is shatterproof, making it ideal for applications with high vibration levels or pressure surges. It also offers resistance against most acids, mechanical damage, abrasion, heat aging, and oxidation from UV lights. However, thermoplastic tubing may become brittle over time which can cause problems with leaks or breakage at joints if not regularly maintained properly.
Based on the information gathered, copper pipe is recommended not to be used for the air compressor due to its high susceptibility to corrosion and wear. Copper pipe often experiences a high level of oxidation when in contact with compressed air, which can cause significant deterioration of the pipe.
In addition, copper piping is subject to pressure bursts, vibration, and constant expansion and contraction, all of which can weaken the structure and performance of the air compressor.
For these reasons, using more durable pipes, such as stainless steel or synthetic rubber pipes, is best when constructing an air compressor. These materials are more resistant to corrosion and wear than copper piping. They remain structurally sound even when exposed to temperature fluctuations or other environmental conditions.
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