View Full Version : OT? Cheapo copper pipe

jim davies
03-12-2007, 02:29 AM
Been flogging the installation of my new Ebay RV furnace
into my shop. Usual challenges, but I thought I was past the
tough stuff until I started on the copper piping. I bought a
25" roll of 3/8 soft at Home Despot. Even checked to be
sure it was made in America...

This crap is softer than annealed and thinner wall than anything
I have used before. Got a pile of junk double flare cutoffs beyond
all belief...when you screw down on the flare tool the pipe
just collapses, hardly any resistance at all. And kink...!

Talking to a buddy who says he has run into this crap for the
last few years. Anyone else seen this stuff?

03-12-2007, 06:37 AM
yep when they knockoff a .001" off the wall thickness of something to the person ustrying to use it it doesn't make sense. But to the company making the profit of the item it makes a lot of sense. AS the program called man made the other night. Pointed out on the beer and pop cans. The design has changed to the style they have now for less material and max strength for the materials they use.
They sell the soft and half hard at the local despot here or they did last time I bought it. Last resort the local plumbing wholesaler for it ours isclose to the big box prices.

03-12-2007, 08:36 AM
I haven't seen that but it's been a few years since I did a gas installation. I'll have to keep that in mind if I install any new appliances. When I installed the natural gas here I used high pressure 2 psi copper instead of black iron. Didn't have any problem then but that was 15 years ago.

The copper producers are rolling in the clover these days. The local copper mine has a production break even price of around one dollar per pound.

03-12-2007, 12:17 PM
PTsideshow & others.....
I'll wade in here about copper tubing & gas lines. (BC 'A' certified gas fitter here). Yes the local Home Despot, Revy, what ever sells a thin wall type of soft copper tubing. It is NOT certified for use as "gas distribution piping" as it doesn't meet Can. CGA B149 code requirements. (OK, so I'm a Cdn.)
What does is sold/ listed as "gas tubing" (the stuff with a yellow coating) and is usually available at a plumbing/ HVAC wholesaler. Until recently, you could also use "refridgeration tubing" for gas, but the code listing changed. (The material spec is still the same, just no yellow coating.) Funny how you could use it for R-148a at say 100 psi. but not nat. gas at 2 psi....? Yes, the gas tubing is thicker wall and more expensive, but it flares nicely & doesn't kink so easily. Use a bending tool, those spring-tools are cheap. Types L & K soft copper tubing are/ were certified for use with gas & propane and even for underground service. (Marking & protection requirements, though.)
For flexiblity, you can also use "Tite-flex" or other flex. stainless steel tubing systems, but they cost more & require special fittings etc.
As far as tubing & beer cans go; that's called minimun-cost engineering. Often done by accountants, and often applied to products that we have to fix, like cars, appliances, etc. It's a valid theorey if applied to throw away products like cans but I call it "malicious engineering" if it happens to something I have to fix....(Eg. Lennox & Carrier furnaces, Dodge mini-vans....)

03-12-2007, 12:38 PM
Copper is to be avoided with Gas due to the mercaptin added to the gas to make it stink. It can slowly scale the inside and erode it. That having been said, it has been done, but the stuff is thicker than typical water supply tubing. You want to use iron again at the furnace and make sure to have a drip leg that will catch the scale rather than letting the gas pressure carry it into the valve and mess things up.

Me....I don't want soft copper (even the better soft copper) tubing used for gas....especially in a shop where it could get whacked into.

When I plumbed my shop for my hanging heater, I used iron pipe from the secondary regulator outside to the heater location where I admittedly did use a short flexible appliance connection to the valve. This short appliance connector is close to the back of the hanging furnace and protected by the furnace. The LP provider pipes from the tank to the secondary regulator with buried soft copper :rolleyes: This concerns me as we have clay soil which is typically on the acid side and I would think it would erode over time. They swore they have some really old installations with no problems.


03-12-2007, 01:17 PM
Copper 2 psi installations are fully approved here. Individual regulators are fitted at each appliance to drop the pressure to 11" WC. I have done a black iron installation and copper is far easier. The copper tube must be intalled where it can't be easily damaged such as in the floor joists or similar or it must be guarded similar to wiring. The nicest thing about my installation here is that I put in a manifold with valves on each end and 5 tees with caps for easy hookup. The copper tubing must be marked with a yellow flag every meter or closer. Yellow pvc tape works or in my case just spray stripes across the coil before installing.

03-12-2007, 01:23 PM
Incidentally, mercaptans are used to odorize propane as well as natural gas and copper has been used for many years in propane installations with no problems. There is no technical reason that it can't be used with NG.

03-12-2007, 04:12 PM
Copper is required for gas (LPG) on boats in the UK, nothing else is accepted. That's been the case for about 20 years, but was the most common material used prior to that anyway.
I've never heard of any problems with it due to the Ethyl Mercaptan smellifier.

I believe some grades of brass fittings *can* be attacked by propane, whether that's the propane itself or the added extras I've no idea.


03-12-2007, 04:19 PM
The primary reason it doesn't make code here any more is the flaking garbage that can end up plugging an expensive gas valve. When it was allowed, they just insisted that you had an iron drip leg where you tied it into the iron T at the gas valve so that any crusty bits had a place that gravity could take them. It's still used for propane around here....but only outdoors where it is buried.

They have also disallowed brass flare to threaded couplers because they too can pit and leak. They don't handle being wrung up by ham-handed plumbers very many times without loosing a seal either. The last several appliance connectors I bought came with plated steel flare fittings...which would seem to me to be less apt to seal well. The local utility put out a brochure here a few years ago encouraging people not to re-use brass flare couplers for their appliance connections. Even pilot tubing for those things that still use a pilot are now aluminum.

My only concern is that if the stuff he is using is falling apart in trying to flare the connections then I would hardly think it has much margin for corrosion from the inside...and certainly wouldn't handle being bumped etc, very well.

I had few problems with iron pipe because I got to pick the location for the external regulator and just started running pipe from there. Internally, I just needed to get it up close to the appliance where I used an appliance connector. Iron pipe may be more work than uncoiling a continuous piece of copper, but I'd pick safe over easy any day.

Just my $.02