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  1. #1

    Lightbulb Pipe Material Selection

    Hi All,

    I work for a supplier who works with the Fire/Plumbing/HVAC Industries - the whole package of pipes/valves and fittings etc, however our specialised area is in supply of carbon steel pipes and some stainless which our supply offer works well across other parts of the country but it seems that where I am contractors/consultants are still set on using copper piping throughout these HVAC systems, even in sizes up to 12".

    Now I know I can provide cost savings for these customers by supplying carbon steel pipe with the combination of roll grooved fittings/couplings but I just can't seem to get anyone over the line.

    Basically my question is this; What benefits does a customer receive by using Copper pipe/fittings over Carbon Steel and even Stainless?

    This day and age it even seems cost savings can be found using a stainless system over copper!

    Await your replies, thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Coastal Maine
    It is the installation method. Carbon Steel pipe requires specialized equipment or craftsmen to install. We use a lot of carbon steel pipe, on both heating and chilled water applications, but we also employ our own welders. The cost of upfront investment in the equipment necessary to install carbon pipe is a deterrent, when all that is needed for copper is a torch.

  3. #3
    Yeah good point, I know the cost required for a true roll grooved setup as we sell the machinery too so that is understandable.

    However, as a supplier we have the ability ourselves to work with the customer regarding processing - cutting/grooving (galvanising if required) - which would cut that initial upfront investment. Our ability is to supply pipes at any required lengths (once lengths are advised) and ensure both ends of each pipe are properly grooved and Q/A'd to ensure the customer is receiving a quality system with lower labour output.

    I would think the reduced material cost, the ease of installation and maintenance and the money/time saved on labour would be a winner!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Austin, TX
    They don't have a welder and equipement on staff or don't like paying to sub one.

    Hire yourselves a welder that you can sub for a decent price with a helper(welder apprentice) and start telling your customers the cost of the copper is Y the cost of black steel and time for my welder is X, you save X-Y in difference along with Z hours of labor at your rate.

    If you get a welder who is also good at estimating the job on site and good at insulation, it will be like gold to your customers in HVAC.
    If you're too "open" minded, your brains will fall out.
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

  5. #5
    Thanks XcelTech.
    It is funny you suggest that as we are currently looking at that direction for our business.

    Otherwise technically speaking on copper vs steel does anyone know the benefits.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    New York City
    Copper can be easier to deal with if you don't want to pay attention to water quality on closed systems. Copper won't develop flaky rust prior to installation which can be a problem when commissioning the system. However, steel will passivate, and you can get into trouble either way. On steam copper pipes do not have enough material to resist carbonic acid attack from condensate. Open systems i.e. cooling towers, are steel anyway and you need to treat the water anyway, so having steel pipes is a no brainer. Also open system piping is typically large stuff. Nothing stopping you from using copper tho.

  7. #7
    Thanks for all the feedback. You've just confirmed what I had been thinking anyway so I'm glad I'm on the right track.

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