Do it proper, do it copper use to be a very popular saying back when I first started in the plumbing industry in the 90's. Everything involved copper, all the above ground sewer drains were copper, the water pipes both in ground and above ground were copper and the gas pipes were also all installed using copper tube. It could have been as small as 15mm or even as large as 200mm the copper came in all different sizes and all different gauges (wall thickness). The copper is classed using a grading scale from Class A (extremely thick) through to Class C (thinner) this is in Australia, over seas they use a slightly different scale with different letters. Class A copper was used in situations where high pressure would apply inside the pipe ie: fire mains or high pressure gas lines. Class C would be used on sewer drains where the pressure wasn't as high and the smaller wall thickness allowed for easier forming of angles, junctions and bends.
It was considered quite the art of plumbing if you could install sewer drainage using copper pipes, all of the junctions/take off points were manufactured from scratch using oxy and acetylene torches and bending pins to help knock the copper into shape. The heat given off from the oxy and acetylene torches was very high, this was because you always had to maintain the copper tube at a dull cherry red colour to be able to form it into a shape you wanted. Getting the copper to hot would crease the pipe in places you didn't want and not applying enough heat meant that the copper wouldn't do what you wanted, it was quite the art and still is today.
As with many things in the world, technology has evolved and this has also happened with the plumbing industry. Using copper tube such as 100mm can be as much as $600 per 6 metre length that's fairly pricey and you don't want to make a mistake at those rates. Products such as PVC or HDPE which have now started making an appearance on the plumbing market are priced at around $35 to $75 per 6 metre length respectively and installation times have been more than halved, this has paved the way for these new products to make a big impact on the plumbing industry in Adelaide and throughout Australia.
With these new products hitting the plumbing market it has mean't that the newer generation of plumber coming up through the ranks has not been exposed to what many of us veterans of the industry have had the great experience of being involved with. Although it is not as common to use copper for sewer drainage there are still occasion where it will pop up in old buildings and this is leaving a gap in the market which the younger generation may not be able to fill.
Another area of the plumbing industry which has also recently been affected by the decline in copper piping is water and gas lines. When it comes to the domestic field of plumbing long gone are the days of installation of copper tube for a new homes water supply, products such as Rehau and Auspex have now started dominating. These products are very quick to install and far cheaper than copper tube and its associated fittings. Providing the fittings are put together correctly the chances of leaks with these products is basically zero, another positive.
When it comes to commercial and industrial plumbing products such as PE, Aqua Therm, Blue Brute and Rehau have started to dominate. All of these changes we are seeing in the Plumbing Industry are due to tighter deadlines and smaller budgets on projects which paves the way for these new products and is quickly eliminating copper.
It has been fantastic to see the many changes in the plumbing and gas industry throughout Adelaide and the whole of Australia.
Over my 20 plus years of being involved with the plumbing game I have have had the chances to see and contribute to many different iconic projects in Australia such as The Adelaide Convention Centre, Flinders Hospital, Colonnades Shopping Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, AIR Apartments, Brisbane Children's Hospital and Lumiere Apartments to name just a few.
All of these projects have had some sort of copper pipe work installed into them, some more than others it has been a great experience to be involved with a part of the plumbing industry that is quickly being phased out.
Hope you all have a great week and have enjoyed another installment to my blog, Aaron.
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Aaron Stewart owns and works in the business of Mayfair Plumbing & Gas Fitting from there offices now based in Adelaide, South Australia. Aaron and his team of licensed plumbers and design consultants are passionate about there work. In this blog they will bring you plumbing and gas tips gathered from around the globe over 20 plus years of experiences in the many different fields of plumbing. If you are looking for a plumbing firm who can do everything from design, construct, project management and scheduled on site maintenance contact the Mayfair Plumbing Group.