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Types of Copper Tubes and Connections

9/30/2013 3:34:15 PM | by Anonymous

Copper Tubes

Most of us rely on copper tubes to deliver a constant water supply. Copper tubes are also used in many refrigerating systems. A copper tube is basically a tube that is made out of copper. Copper is used as it does not contaminate the water supply. This is important because people may get poisoned if other contaminable materials are used. Copper is used under more complex circumstances as they are extremely malleable, allowing them to wrap themselves around complicated places. Furthermore, copper has a very good resistance against corrosion, enabling them to last longer as well.

 

Types of copper tubes


There are two basic types of tubes. They are the soft copper tubes and the rigid copper tubes.


Soft copper tubes are extremely ductile and malleable, allowing them to weave their way though intricate places. After the drawing and hardening process of the copper, it will be quite rigid and hard. To make soft copper tubes, they are annealed through a heating process to make them more ductile and malleable. Most refrigerant lines in air conditioners or refrigerant systems and heat pumps utilize soft copper. Under soft copper, the connections used would be flare connections. Soft copper tubes with flare connections have the end of the tube spread in an outward manner. To compress the end into a fitting, something called a flare nut is used. This method is quite difficult to produce, but the advantage is that it is able to last longer and they are considered to be more reliable over a long period of time.

The next type of copper tubes is the rigid copper tubes. These types of tubes are used mainly to transport water. It is much easier and less expensive to produce than soft copper as the drawing process naturally makes the copper rigid. However, this means that the copper cannot be bent easily if needed. This means in order to go around corners, elbow fittings have to be used.


Unlike soft copper, there are three ways to connect the rigid copper tubes together. The types of connections are soldered connections, compression connections and pressed or crimped connections.


The first type is soldered connections. The fittings used in this type of connections are smooth. This means that they can easily fit in the end of the tubes. Firstly, the end of the rigid copper tube is heated with a blow torch and the solder is applied to melt and join the two pieces of tubing together. The bond that is soldered will cool and this type connection is extremely strong and can last for a very long time. In buildings, where a lot of connections have to be made within a limited amount of time, soldered connections offer a much less expensive and quicker way to connect the rigid copper types than compared to flare or compression connections.


The next type of connections is compression connections. Compression connections use a thermoplastic ring or a soft metal which is compressed over the fittings and it is held together with a compression nut. This creates a seal between the meeting points of the two tubes. As compared to soldered connections, compression connections may not last as long. However, they are much less complicated and cost effective to make with simple equipment. In order to maintain a compression connection, retightening is required to stop or prevent leakages.


The last type of connections will be pressed or crimped connections. This type of connections involve having a special fitting made out of copper as well, attached to the copper tube with a tool called a crimper. These special copper fittings are made with a sealant, which means they can easily slide over the rigid copper tubes. A high amount of pressure is used to compress the inner part of the copper tube against the sealant on the special copper fitting to create a seal that is water tight. This may be the most efficient method in terms of durability and appearance. As the special fittings are made of copper they will most probably last as long as the tubes themselves. However, the down side is that since the fittings are made out of copper as well, they will not only be harder to locate but also significantly cost more than the other types of connections.


It is obvious that copper tubes have many uses and advantages. However, the supply of copper is not unlimited, and if we do not find an alternative, this might be a problem in the future.

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