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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Plumbing & Waterproofing > Replacing Copper Pipes

Replacing Copper Pipes Cost


How Much Does Replacing Copper Pipes Cost?

 
 average costCopper Pipes: $2,500-$15,000+ 
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Copper pipes have long been considered the best option for residential water supply lines because they resist corrosion, have a long life expectancy (about 40-50 years) and can be bent or curved relatively easily. However, in areas with an acidic water supply copper pipes have developed contamination (bitter-tasting water) and pinhole leaks[1] , and must be replaced. Typically the house is re-plumbed with plastic pipes or the water is treated to make it less acidic and then the house is re-plumbed with copper. Usually the new pipes will be installed first, the water supply transferred to the new system and then the old pipes will be drained and abandoned in place.

Typical costs:

  • Re-piping a house can cost $1,500-$15,000 or more. Re-piping costs are typically based on the number of fixtures, with each sink, bathtub, shower, toilet, dishwasher, water heater, etc. counting as one fixture. Total costs also depend on the size of the house, if the holes in the walls and ceilings are repaired and repainted or just left open, whether it's one story or two, and ease of access (basement, crawlspace or slab foundation).
  • Re-piping a house with plastic pipes -- either PEX (flexible plastic tubing made of cross-linked polyethylene) or PVC-CPVC (rigid plastic pipes made of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) -- typically costs $1,500 -$8,000 or more, depending on the number of fixtures. Re-piping a small 1-bathroom home with plastic pipes might cost $1,500 -$2,500, and a typical 3-bedroom, 2-1/2-bathroom, two-story home might cost $3,000 -$7,000 or more. Although there are some regional differences -- PEX tends to be more common in the West and Southwest, CPVC in the East -- in many areas one plumber may prefer PEX and another CPVC.
  • If a home has acidic water, a water treatment[2] system to restore the correct pH balance (before installing new copper pipes) can cost $600-$2,000. Re-plumbing with copper pipes can cost $2,500-$15,000 or more, depending on the number of fixtures and the ease of access -- and prices may vary significantly over time depending on the price of copper[3] . For example, Pete Rodriguez of Atlantic Re-Plumbing[4] in Virginia says costs for re-plumbing a 2-1/2-bathroom house with 12-13 fixtures would start at about $4,500, and could cost more. At Repipe1 in California, Danny Zilberberg says re-piping a 2-bathroom house would cost more than $5,000 with copper pipes.
  • Most experts do not recommend re-piping a house as a do-it-yourself project because a single error can result in an expensive and damaging leak. However, for DIY replacement of small sections, building supply stores sell 10' lengths of 1/2"- to 1"-diameter hard copper pipe for about $10-$60 or more.
Related articles: Replacing a Water Heater, Upgrading an Electrical Panel, PVC or CPVC Pipes, PEX Plumbing Pipes, Replacing Galvanized Pipes, Replacing Polybutylene Pipes

What should be included:
  • Copper pipes come in two types, rigid or flexible, and three classifications -- Type M is thin walled, Type L (for most residential plumbing applications) is medium walled and commercial-grade Type K is thick-walled. Flexible copper tubing is typically used for short projects, like leading up to a water heater or for cold water supply in tight spots. Rigid copper pipe is typically used to distribute the water supply.
  • A contractor will typically inspect the house before submitting a bid. Re-piping a house takes 1-5 working days and can require cutting 8-20 or more holes in the walls and ceilings. Usually the water will be turned back on each evening and the homeowners will be able to stay in the house during the re-plumbing. Copper typically takes longer and/or more workers to install than PEX or CPVC pipes. For example, Repipe1 in California typically schedules one day for any re-plumbing project, but uses a three-member crew to install PEX and a five-member or larger crew for copper pipes.
Additional costs:
  • A permit from the local planning or building department is typically required. The city of Hercules, CA, posts its re-piping inspection checklist[5] describing common code violations in re-plumbing projects. Permit fees vary, but typically cost $70-$400. This may be included in a contractor's bid or be an additional charge. The contractor may also charge $50-$150 to be present during required inspections by the local building or planning department.
Shopping for replacing copper pipes:
  • Prices can vary significantly, so get several estimates and ask about re-plumbing experience. Homewownernet.com explains how to hire a plumber[6] and ProToolReviews.com lists tips for choosing between CPVC, PEX and copper pipes[7] .
  • Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, or search for local plumbing contractors through the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association[8] . Make sure the company is properly bonded, insured and licensed[9] ; ask for and check references; and look for complaints with the Better Business Bureau[10] .
  • A written contract should include a detailed outline of the work required and materials to be used, whether the company will be doing the work or subcontracting any of the project, and the dates within which the project will be done.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Copper in basement
Amount: $2,500.00
Posted by: Jack in Kansas in Kansas City, MO.Posted: January 27th, 2011 11:01AM
Number of Rooms: 3Number of Stories: 1
Was provided a bid by AB May. The copper in the basement of the residence had been stolen by crack heads. There were still the stubs of piping left exposed in the basement leading to the faucets. The house had a kitchen with dishwasher, one bathroom, hot water heater, and the washer and dryer located in the basement. Was quoted $2,500.00 to re run all the copper pipe in the basement.
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copper plumbing
Amount: $500.00
Posted by: dharmstead in diamond bar, CA.Posted: March 19th, 2010 09:03PM
is copper piping still standard in homes built since 1990's. we are dealing with copper piping between floors (lst and 2nd). is copper plumbing standard or should plumbing be galvanized.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.toolbase.org/Building-Systems/Plumbing/copper-pinhole-leaks
  2.  pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/UH157.pdf
  3.  www.mongabay.com/commodities/prices/copper.php
  4.  atlanticreplumbing.com/CopperGalvanized/CopperRepipe/tabid/531/Default.aspx
  5.  www.ci.hercules.ca.us/index.aspx?page=103
  6.  www.homeownernet.com/plumbing-how-to/hire_plumber.html
  7.  www.protoolreviews.com/news/cpvc-copper-pex-tubing/3665
  8.  www.phccweb.org/applications/ContractorReferral/search.cfm?navItemNumber=532
  9.  www.contractors-license.org/
  10.  www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews/
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