Common metals around the home
Identifying the types of metal in your household plumbing is relatively simple once you understand the basics. Depending on the age of the property the plumbing systems will have metal or plastic pipes, although it is not uncommon to find both. Traditionally all hot water pipes were metal but plastic pipes are now widely used due to their flexibility and relative ease of installation.
The most common type of metal pipe in residential properties is copper pipe. It can be used for both supplying hot and cold water and to connect the heating system. Copper pipes are available with 15mm and 22mm diameters. Copper piping is relatively flexible and can generally be readily identified by is reddish brown colouring.
Chrome-plated copper pipe
Chrome plated copper pipes are also widely used in residential available with 15mm and 22mm diameters. Chrome Plated Copper Tube is predominantly used in such areas as kitchens or bath / shower rooms where there is a greater risk or corrosion due the environment and also the desire for an aesthetic finish.
Galvanized pipe is usually coated with a layer of zinc. The zinc protects against corrosion and this protective barrier proves equally effective against damage from moisture indoors and outdoors. Up to the later 1970’s-1980’s galvanized steel was utilized for water supply pipes in construction. Galvanized piping was phased out because the zinc barrier tended to react with minerals in the water which created build-up in the pipe and in some cases led to restricted water flow and/or burst pipes.
You can also find galvanized pipe used extensively in fences (posts), railings, scaffolding, washing lines (the old Hill’s hoist) and garden furniture such as old trampolines etc.
Although generally quite durable, when damaged galvanized piping can become susceptible to rust. You should regularly check any piping for damage to ensure that the strength of the item is not compromised. Of course if there is an issue and you need to replace or remove the piping Southern Cross Metal Recyclers can assist you with a quick and easy collection service.
Stainless steel piping
Stainless steel piping is a rigid pipe that is highly resistive to corrosion and is usually has a mirrored silver appearance. This type of pipe is usually used in premium applications such as visible piping and fittings. It is also extensively used in highly corrosive environments.
Brass is a man made alloy of copper and zinc mixed together. Copper and brass are two very similar looking metals and both are extensively used in household piping and plumbing. To differentiate between brass and copper pipes. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between copper and brass is to look at the color. The two may seem very similar however if you have an item that you know is made out of copper then compare the color and decide whether it’s brass or copper. Copper has a red tinge to it and will turn green when it starts to corrode.
Bronze piping is relatively rare around the home. It was widely used in boat and ship fittings prior to the adoption of stainless steel owing to its combination of toughness and resistance to salt water corrosion. Bronze is still commonly used in ship propellers and submerged bearings. You will tend to find bronze in older weather proofing applications, decorative fixtures, bowls and sculptures.
Fortunately Lead pipe plumbing is not widespread in Australian homes and little is heard about drinking water as a source of lead poisoning – unlike Europe and the US. The late Lead Reference Centre (a section of NSW Environment Protection Authority devoted to lead policy and education from 1997-9) has not even devoted a fact sheet to the subject. Nevertheless, it may be an issue worth investigating if your home was built prior to the 1930’s, when copper pipes replaced lead pipes. Lead is usually dull grey or silvery in colour, is relatively easy to bend, and can be scratched and scraped easily. A good way to identify lead piping is to scratch the surface with a coin or similar object. Lead piping that has been scraped or scratched will appear shiny or silver.