How Much Does It Cost to Replace Copper Plumbing?

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Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
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There are many reasons you will want to repipe a house. For example, you can be looking to stop leaking or replace old pipes that pass discolored or lead-polluted water. However, before replacing pipes, you will need to work with a set budget, especially when you want to replace pre-installed copper pipes. So, how much does it cost to replace copper plumbing?

While the cost to repipe a house with copper pipes depends on different factors like the size of the project and the number of fixtures, you can expect replacing a copper plumbing system to cost anywhere between $1000 to $15 000.

How Much Does Copper Piping Cost?

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Copper pipes may be the best option if you are looking for the most durable pipes for your indoor plumbing project. A copper pipe resists bacteria for many years and can be bent easily to suit many water lines, making it the ideal choice for plumbers. Unfortunately, the pipes are not easy to source, making them quite expensive.

Copper pipes cost around $1 to $3 per linear foot before including other piping materials. When you couple the cost with labor and the size of the house or number of plumbing fixtures, you can end up paying more than $15 000 to pipe a new house. Before deciding on your budget, you will need to choose the most suitable copper pipes.

There are three types of copper pipes that will determine how successful and expensive your plumbing project will be. These are determined by how strong their walls are and, thus, how long they can last:

  • Type M copper pipes. These are the thinnest pipes, thus the most affordable coming at around $1.89–$2.28 per square foot. They are easy to install in any setting but will also have the shortest lifespan of any copper piping system.

  • Type L copper pipes have thicker walls compared to Type M pipes. As such, they will be more expensive and have a longer lifespan. They are also the best options for residential buildings that have hard or acidic water. Plumbing with these copper pipes can cost anywhere between $1.89- $5.00 with all necessary fittings.

  • Type K copper pipes are the thickest, thus the most expensive and the most durable. The plumbing can cost $6.70–$8.40 per linear foot when you include the fittings. These pipes are best suited for commercial buildings that will not require very frequent maintenance.

Besides sourcing and installing the copper pipes in your new house, water treatment is another factor that can affect the overall plumbing price. If your house has acidic water, you will need to install a water treatment system before installing your new pipes. The treatment system can cost anywhere between $600-$2,000, depending on the size of your house.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Copper Piping?

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There are many reasons you will want to do copper pipe replacement for your buildings. Firstly, it could be the pipes are too old and have begun leaking or passing contaminated water, or maybe you cannot source enough copper pipes for your project. In either case, you can choose to use the more affordable piping methods out there.

Some of the best materials to use for any project are PEX pipes. PEX piping includes installing hard plastic water supply lines, and while these are not s durable as copper piping, they are more affordable.

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In this project, you will need to account for removing your old copper pipes. This will also involve damaging your walls so you can remove and replace plumbing pipes. The cost of replacing copper piping with PEX piping can range from $1,500 -$8,000. However, the overall price could be higher depending on the number of plumbing fixtures and the damage done to walls.

For a better estimate, replacing copper piping with PEX pipes in a small house with one bathroom, a kitchen sink, and a laundry area will be around $1,500 -$2,500.

How Much Does it Cost to Re-Plumb with Copper Pipes?

If you have old or lead pipes in your building, you can also choose to install new copper lines to meet the EPA's plumbing recommendations. Replumbing your building with copper pipes will cost between $2,500-$15,000, depending on the size of the house, plumbing fixtures installed, and damage done to walls.

How Much Will it Cost to Replace Copper Pipes Under a House

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Like replacing copper water pipes inside the house, replacing copper lines under a house will also cost around $2 000 to $15 000 for the whole project. The project will cost $3 to $8 per linear foot if you want to replace galvanized pipes with new copper pipes. Alternatively, if you want to replace old copper pipes with new PEX pipes, it can cost anywhere between $0.40 to $0.50 per linear foot.

Extra Costs for Replacing Copper Plumbing

While replacing copper lines can cost between $2 000 and $15 000 or more, you also need to account for extra costs that can increase the overall plumbing cost. These include plumbing permits and drywall costs.

Depending on state laws, permit costs can range from $70 to $400. In addition to the permit, you may incur additional costs if your plumber or contractor is present during the project inspection, which can range between $50-$150.

Factors to Consider When Replacing Copper Plumbing

Before replacing your copper plumbing, you need to understand a few factors you need to understand as they can influence the overall cost.

a) House size

A bigger house has more plumbing fixtures, which means you will break down more walls and buy more replacement pipes. As a result, the repiping or replumbing cost will be inevitably higher. For instance, a two-story building will have more fixtures than a one-story one. When considering fixtures, you have to account for pipes leading to toilets, showerheads, kitchen sinks, washing machines, and more.

b) House layout

When you have a storied house, you need pipes running up to the higher floors. Therefore, when repiping these floors, you will need more pipes and supplies and might incur more costs to guarantee good water pressure. In addition to supplies, you will also incur more labor costs.

c) House location

Location is another factor that can determine the cost of replumbing your building. It refers to how long your house is from city water and sewer lines, which then translates to how much excavation you need to cater for. You may incur fewer costs for a building near the city center than one in the countryside since the latter will need more effort to connect to the city water and sewer networks.

d) Cost of materials

The next factor determining how much you will pay to replace copper plumbing systems is the materials you want to use. You can use materials such as PEX or copper pipes for your project. The PEX pipe is generally cheaper than the rigid copper pipe.

You can use new copper pipes when you want to replace old copper lines. Alternatively, you can use the PEX pipes when replacing old copper water pipes.

e) Inspections and permits

You will need to account for permits and inspections, especially when plumbing a new house. If so, understand how much permits cost in your state. Also, your contractor can charge money to be present during the site inspections.

When Do You Need to Replace Your Copper Plumbing?

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Copper piping is the most durable option, with each type of pipe lasting about a decade. If you use thicker pipes, you can expect your pipes to last up to 100 years. However, you might need to replace your plumbing installation as soon as you notice the following changes.

  1. Water discoloration. The first indication your copper pipes need replacing is when water flowing from your faucets looks yellowish, brownish, or gray. In most cases, water discoloration means the pipes are corroding due to substances in the water like chlorine.
  2. Cracking. If you have exposed pipes, you can spot cracks that indicate the need to replace them urgently. If the pipes are behind walls, you can spot leaking when the water starts seeping through the drywall.
  3. Metallic taste in water. Your piped water will change taste when the copper pipes start corroding, thus giving it a metallic taste. If there is no metallic taste, you might also notice an unpleasant smell that makes it hard to drink or cook with the water.
  4. You will also need to replace copper plumbing when you get lower water pressure, indicating your pipes can no longer handle the pressure.

Benefits of Replacing Copper Plumbing

If you want to keep your buildings in good condition, you need to replace water pipes as necessary. Here are two reasons to replace your entire copper plumbing system.

  1. You can replace plumbing pipes to get rid of old copper pipes, especially if you live in an old house. Old pipes are prone to damage, including corrosion, cracks, etc.
  2. To replace outdated materials. If you live in an old building, there are chances it has lead pipes. Lead pipes contaminate water, which can cause blood, bone, and body tissue problems.
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About the author

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
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