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Copper Piping in One Pipe Steam Systems - Jim Greco

I am expanding the steam loop in my steam heat system and someone told me that I can use copper intead of black-pipe for the loop and risers. Is this true?


  • gman
    gman Member Posts: 12

    i thought that it was illegal.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    Not illegal, but not a good idea

    Copper expands more than steel when heated, and the soldered joints won't "give" like threaded joints will. So using copper for steam-carrying pipes is a bad idea. It's fine for wet (below waterline) returns though.

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  • wouldn't it still have dielectric corrossion

    if used in the wet returns cause of the air vents letting air back in?
  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    Those who know and care would...............................

    use black pipe for this extension. It's the better installation, takes a certain degree of craftsmanship, and will outlast the copper. As Steamhead says, down low is fine for copper. Mad Dog

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  • Jacob Myron
    Jacob Myron Member Posts: 4
    Copper for steam headers

    Using copper on steam piping is the nightmare that you don"t want to have.

    Besides the expansion and contraction problems associated with copper pipe on steam, copper gives off heat more than five times greater than black steel pipe.

    When the boiler starts to make steam, the steam will begin to condense into water as soon as it hits the copper pipe.

    Many one small houses with one pipe steam were piped marginally. In other words the size of the piping was at the border line as to the amount of water and steam the pipe could carry with out stacking up.

    Usually the black pipe had insulation around it. The insulation prevented the pipe from condensing large amounts of steam into water. Most jobs that contractore do are with out insuklation. Whether this is the contractors choice to make the job cheaper or the custmomers choice of not to spend the money for insulation has no bearing on the condensation problem.

    The copper pipe helps make a lot of condensation. Even when insulated it will produce more condensate water than black pipe. If your piping is marginal you now have a condition that will create banging, cause poor steam circulation, prevent steam from reaching all points of the system and additionally the nightmare begins.

    Steam is not a forgiving medium. When you make a mistake the steam system will let you know almost immidiatelly.

    Have the work done by a qualified contractor and do it in black steel pipe. Install vent valves at the end of the steam main. Make sure the steam main is pitched properly and make sure the pipe hangers are secure to the structure and the piping. Insulate the piping and enjoy the quiet and steady flow of steam in the piping system next heating season.

    Remember this, if the piping system is installed properly and the air vents work correctly there will be very little maintenance on your steam system.

This discussion has been closed.