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Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

Posted by freedee (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 3, 10 at 15:08

I would like to install spickets to connect a hose on my deck at my beach house. Would I be better off using copper or some other something else. My concern is that the salt in the air deteriorates everything so quickly. Anything I use will break down, the question is, which would be better?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

PVC/CPVC cannot be installed exposed to UV light.

Neither can PEX.

So unless you will have the pipe buried in walls, floors or chases you're pretty much left relying upon copper.


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

As Manhattan42 has already pointed out PVC, CPVC & PEX may not be installed where it would be exposed to UV light. In addition, PVC may be used for direct burial "Supply" piping but it may not be used for "Potable water distribution".

Copper has a relatively high resistance to salt water corrosion and may be used where it would be exposed UV.

There is another alternative. Brass pipe is approved for potable water distribution, has an extremely high resistance to salt water corrosion and is impervious to UV exposure however it is difficult to find, very expensive and because it is installed with NPT threaded joints in the same manner as Galvanized Iron, it is considered extremely labor intensive to install.


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

Are you saying that brass is more expensive than copper?

I can run the pipe through a downspout. There used to be a downspout in the location where I wanted the spicket. It wasn't being used as a downspout, It was being used to hide power supply to a wall airconditoner unit that was moved. I now have a hole in the upper and lower decks where the downspout used to be. It would be easy enough put a new downspout there and to run the pipe through it, if that would be advantageous.


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

"Are you saying that brass is more expensive than copper? "

Brass piping is the same thickness as galvanized steel piping.

It is much more expensive than thin walled copper piping.

The thicker walls are needed for the threaded couplings used.

I have many feet of brass piping from a 1920s house I renovated (the pipe joinmt compound had failed allowing leaks at every joint).

There were even a few pieces of solid copper NPT pipe.

I cut down the pieces and thread them when I need brass nipples.

It threads like a dream.


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

Where is it specified that PVC may not be used for potable water distribution?


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

"Where is it specified that PVC may not be used for potable water distribution?"

Plumbing Codes.

It is permitted for water service pipe underground.
Not for water distribution pipes throughout the house.


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

Per code definition the line from the municipal street main or well to the structure is defined as the "Service line" and the service line terminates at the "main water shutoff valve" which is generally required to be within 3ft of the point where the service line enters the structure.

All lines on the house side of the "main water shutoff valve" are defined as "potable water distribution lines"

The plumbing codes list PVC as approved for "service lines" but PVC is not listed as an approved material for "Distribution lines".

CPVC may be used for distribution.


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

Lazypup--Your posts are wonderfully helpful. I'm slightly confused about some of the terminology, though. In another thread you wrote "Supply lines are defined as the line from the municipal water main or well to the structure." What is defined as the structure? Is my front yard / the main shutoff considered the structure? If we are replacing the line from the Main shutoff to the house and are planning to use CPVC for the interior house lines, must we also use CPVC for the underground line going from the shutoff to the house? Or can we use PE pipe underground, which you recommended in another thread for supply lines, and transition to CPVC once inside the house?
Thanks for your help.


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RE: Copper or PVC for beach-front spicket

For the purposes of this forum rather than say "Structure" we could say House or building, however in the broadest sense it is conceivable that we could have a water demand where there is no building, such as a supply line to a fountain in a park thus the code uses the word "structure" to define any house, building or man made structure used to support the end use point of demand for the water. Understanding that it is not always feasible to place the main water shutoff valve at the exact point where the line enters the structure the code allows us a short distance on either side of that point, generally not to exceed 3' on either side thus if your house has a basement the valve would generally be in the basement within 3' of the point where the line enters the basement. In the case of a slab construction the valve could be placed in a vault or other approved underground valve enclosure approximately 3' outside the footer wall or it could be placed inside the house within 3' of the point where the line stubs up through the slab. (Local codes or approved variances may permit the valve to be at a greater distance from the footer wall or slab penetration).

The line from the municipal main or well to that valve must be installed using piping materials and installation techniques which are listed for "Supply lines".

All lines on the house side of the main water supply line must be installed with materials and techniques that are listed as approved for "Distribution lines".

If the main water shutoff valve is placed in a vault or enclosure outside of the structure (building) all underground portions of the line from the valve to the structure must be installed with materials that are listed as approved for "Direct burial" distribution lines, by example both hard drawn rigid and annealed roll copper are approved for distribution lines, but if the copper is used in direct burial under a slab we cannot solder the joints. All joints MUST BE brazed.

Understanding that most failures in direct burial underground piping occur at joints IMHO the best choice of material is a continuous length roll pipe such as PE, PEX or Copper thus eliminating underground joints and generally PE has the greatest cost advantage.

Technically speaking, if your main water shutoff valve is in a vault or underground enclosure outside the structure you could run PE pipe from the municipal main or well to the valve, but you could not use PE pipe on the house side of the valve because the line from the house side of that valve to the house is defined as a distribution line and code prohibits using PE pipe for distribution lines, however your local inspector could approve the use of the PE line for the direct burial portion providing you transition to another material within 3' after entering the structure or stubbing up through the slab to the interior portion of the structure.

Given that CPVC is approved for both direct burial and above grade distribution I would be inclined to make the transition from PE to CPVC at the valve.



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