Most homeowners in the Plainfield, IL, area will face a time when they need to have plumbing work done. You may have to choose between copper and galvanized pipes. Both are designed to reduce the use of lead in plumbing systems. Copper and galvanized pipes have advantages, but there are also some key aspects to consider when choosing between these two types of pipes. Here are the primary differences between galvanized and copper pipes that the experts at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing share with our customers.


Steel is a durable material, but it is prone to corrosion. For plumbing applications, the steel pipes are coated with zinc to create galvanized pipes. The process ensures that the pipes withstand the effects of water exposure and weathering. Copper pipes are primarily made with copper, but some other metals may be added. In some cases, manufacturers use scrap copper that introduces impurities. This practice often results in copper pipes that are not as durable or as long-lasting.


When you invest in a plumbing project, large or small, you want to know that your investment will provide years of worry-free enjoyment of your home. Galvanized pipes may last up to 40 years, and copper pipes can last longer.

Lead Content

Believe it or not, galvanized pipes do contain a small amount of lead, even though the material was introduced to eliminate lead from residential and commercial plumbing applications. The lead in galvanized steel pipes is considered a safe level, even if it leaches into your water. For homeowners in Plainfield who want to completely eliminate any type of lead from their plumbing, copper is the way to go.


If your Plainfield home is designed with several tight spaces for your plumbing, the professionals at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing may recommend copper pipes. Galvanized pipes are not available in smaller diameters, so they may not fit in your home.


Water contains bacteria that can grow inside your plumbing pipes. Galvanized pipes don’t inhibit bacterial growth. Copper pipes have certain natural properties that prevent bacteria from growing inside your pipes.

Hard Water Deposits

The water in the Plainfield, IL, area is hard, meaning that it contains a high level of minerals. Deposits develop inside your pipes over time, and this can lead to costly repairs. Mineral deposits are common in galvanized pipes, and copper pipes are less prone to these deposits. Unless you have a hard water softener, copper pipes may be your best investment.


The winters in Illinois can be hard on plumbing. If your pipes tend to freeze, choose copper pipes. The material has the ability to expand and contract with changing ground and outdoor temperatures. As a result, copper pipes rarely burst due to freezing. Galvanized steel pipes cannot expand, and they often burst during the winter if they are not properly insulated and protected. On the other hand, water tends to condense inside copper pipes, and the condensation may freeze during the winter. Although the pipe may not burst, the ice can slow water flow.

Heat Resistance

One area where galvanized pipes outshine copper is applications that require very hot water. Copper pipes will fail if they carry water that is hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot water heaters should be set around 120 to 140 degrees so excessive heat is not a concern for most homes in the Plainfield, IL area. If you do have a special application for your plumbing that requires water that is 180 degrees or higher, we may recommend galvanized pipes.

Material Cost

Thus far, it seems that copper pipes are the best choice for homes in the Plainfield area, but we also advise our customers about the difference in cost. Copper pipes are more expensive. If you are working with a budget, galvanized pipes are the best choice. The pipes will last for several decades, and they are very durable and safe.

Repair Costs

Galvanized pipes are very affordable to install and repair, so, even if they don’t last as long as copper, this is still a very affordable option. Copper pipes are costly to repair. Fortunately, they rarely break, burst, or leak when they are properly installed by the experts at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing.


If you enjoy drinking tap water, galvanized pipes are the better option. Copper pipes leach materials that cause a metallic taste in drinking water, including ice cubes.

Property Value

Copper pipes add more value to your home than galvanized pipes. In fact, having a copper plumbing system may give your home an advantage over comparable properties in your neighborhood. Even if you aren’t planning to stay in your home, you will see a return on your investment in copper pipes when it’s time to sell.


Like any other product in your home, plumbing pipes may come with a warranty from the manufacturer. For galvanized pipes that are warranted, the term is between 10 and 25 years. Copper pipes, though, come with an amazing 50-year warranty against manufacturer defects.

Should You Replace Galvanized Pipes With Copper Pipes?

For new construction in Plainfield, most plumbing systems are designed with copper pipes. For older homes, it may be worth considering replacing your galvanized pipes with copper. If your plumbing system is working well, there is no need to replace the entire system just to change materials. When you start having issues with your galvanized pipes, the professionals at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing may recommend an upgrade to copper pipes. Now might be the best time, though, if you are concerned with lead leaching into your drinking water from older galvanized pipes.

Can You Combine Galvanized and Copper Pipes?

Joining galvanized and copper pipes causes a specific type of corrosion that damages the pipes. The rust builds up inside a galvanized pipe and creates a clog. A better approach would be to evaluate your home to see if subsystems can be plumbed with different materials. If you want to stay within a budget and only update part of your plumbing with copper pipes, we may recommend using galvanized or copper pipes only on the wastewater part of your pipes.

How Are Plumbing Pipes Replaced?

In addition to upgrading the materials for your plumbing system, there are other reasons why you may need to change out your pipes. One of the most common times that we recommend replacing the pipes is when you have frequent repairs. If you are remodeling, changing to copper pipes adds even more value to your property. When it’s time to change out the pipes, expect the water to be off for part of the day. In more advanced plumbing projects, the water may need to be off at night, as well. We will need to cut holes in the drywall to access some of the pipes. We will patch the holes and repaint the walls once the work is complete.

Expert Plumbing Professionals

When you decide to change out the pipes of your home, you want a company that you can trust to do the job right. TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing is a top-rated plumbing company that serves homes in the Plainfield area. We can also help with installation, repairs, and maintenance of your HVAC system. Give us a call today to find out how we can make your home more functional and comfortable.

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