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Is it Ok to Use Plastic Pipes for Central Heating?


If you’re renovating your property, or perhaps redoing your central heating system, you may have come across plastic pipes as a material option. Traditionally, you’ll find copper pipes in central heating systems, but can you use plastic pipes? In this article we aim to answer all of your questions about using plastic pipes for central heating systems.

So, is it ok to use plastic pipes for central heating? Plastic pipes can be used in central heating systems, in general hot and cold water supply, and in most areas where traditional pipes are used. However, experts recommend changing to copper pipes when used within 1.5m of the boiler.

Read on to learn more about using plastic pipes in your central heating system.

Is it Ok to Use Plastic Pipes for Central Heating?

It is perfectly safe to use plastic pipes for central heating systems. They are safe to use in both hot and cold water supply systems, and throughout your central heating installation. However, they should not be used within 1-1.5m of the boiler; traditional copper pipes should be used here for safety reasons.

In fact, plastic pipes are commonly used in new-build houses and other modern buildings. It is also a great option for repair work, or changes to existing systems as it is more flexible, more corrosion resistant, quicker to install, and comes with a reduced labour cost. What’s more, plastic pipes tend to be cheaper than traditional copper pipes.

What is the Best Pipe to Use for Central Heating?

Traditionally, copper is used for pipework in central heating systems as it is a fairly robust material. However, in new builds, trends seem to be switching to the use of plastic pipes as a way of saving money, whilst still installing a robust system.

What is Better, Copper or Plastic Pipes?

Each material has its own benefits, but plastic pipes are probably the better material to use for central heating. Plastic pipes offer the same durability as copper pipes, but are more corrosion resistant and, crucially, are not heat-conducting, meaning that heat or cold is less likely to be lost as the water travels. What’s more, exposed plastic pipes are safer around children.

Some traditionalists will claim that copper is better, and will withstand the test of time far better than plastic. That said, plastic pipes can be expected to last for around 50 years if they are installed properly and are looked after.

Advantages of Plastic Pipes for Central Heating

  • Resistant to many acids, halogens, and corrosion
  • Can carry hot and cold water when installed correctly
  • Quick and simple installation
  • Cheaper than copper
  • Low-temperature conduction (heat won’t get lost as water travels)

Disadvantages of Plastic Pipes for Central Heating

  • Not resistant to solvent
  • The correct plastic pipes must be chosen to ensure longevity (not all plastic pipes are the same)
  • Weaker material and may need support, especially where used for underground plumbing
  • Not ideal for outdoor use
  • Vulnerable to expansion and shrinkage due to temperature

Can You Connect a Radiator with Plastic Pipes?

Radiators can be connected with plastic pipes, and you will find such a setup in most new-build properties or newly-fitted central heating systems. The plastic pipes are connected into the rad valves; the male end goes into the valve compression and the pipe pushes into the female end.

How Close Can Plastic Pipe Be to a Boiler?

Plastic pipes can be used throughout the central heating system, but should not be used within 1m of the boiler. You should also refrain from using plastic pipes close to the gas supply.

The general rule is to use copper pipes 1-1.5m from the boiler, then change to a barrier plastic pipe, before switching to the plastic pipe you intend to use throughout the system.

Qualified Plumbers in Bradford & Leeds

Valor Property Maintenance offers a professional plumbing service in Bradford and across the Leeds area. If you’re looking for a plumber or an emergency Leeds plumber, we can provide a contracted engineer for callouts between 9:00AM – 5:30PM Monday to Friday.

We also provide a wide range of other home maintenance services including full or part refurbishmentelectricalhandymanpest control, and cleaning services. Valor Property Maintenance is a one-stop-shop for your landlord business.

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