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Old 05-12-2010, 01:00 AM   #1
StinkBug
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Default Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Gettin ready to plumb the new shop for air, and wanna do it right the first time. Went to check prices on copper pipe, and didn't realize that there were 2 different types. Lowes had type M and Type L. Only difference I could tell was wall thickness. Question is, will the thinner stuff be ok for running compressed air lines? Any other suggestions?
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StinkBug View Post
Gettin ready to plumb the new shop for air, and wanna do it right the first time. Went to check prices on copper pipe, and didn't realize that there were 2 different types. Lowes had type M and Type L. Only difference I could tell was wall thickness. Question is, will the thinner stuff be ok for running compressed air lines? Any other suggestions?
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:54 AM   #3
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

I prefer the thicker stuff.
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

I can't see any reason why the thinner type M pipe wouldn't work fine and I've heard of plenty of people using it for compressed air. According to Lowes, the 1/2" Type M copper pipe that they sell is rated to 850 psi.

I'll agree that bigger is usually better and if money were no object, I'd get the thicker stuff. But money is tight atm, so I'm about to install type M piping in my garage unless I hear of a good reason not to. Has anyone actually had a failure while using compressed air in type M copper piping or are you all just being anal?

Last edited by bosskong; 05-12-2010 at 05:17 AM.
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Old 05-12-2010, 06:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

The 850 psi rating is for static liquid pressure, not compressed air pressure. When you heat copper pipe to solder it, the pipe properties will change (you are annealing it) and it will become softer and the pressure values will change.

Having said that, I used type "L" when I ran my lines but if you use type "M", the worse thing that will happen is the pipe will split. Unlike other line types (the white stuff), the line will not shatter and send out shards of metal. I prefer the thicker material as my compressor is on 24/7 (which is why I plumbed the shop....) and I did not want to have a failure in a line that would cause the compressor to run for 24 to 48 hours without me knowing about it.
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Old 05-12-2010, 06:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

I just researched that yesterday and found info at copper.org. Go with Type L!

Here is a link to their online 'Copper Tube Handbook' for identification of copper tube. Clikc on the "(See Table 1)" blue link and a table will pop up with info on approved applications. They do not list Compressed Air for Type M copper, only Type L and Type K. http://www.copper.org/applications/p...1stand_id.html

If I use copper, I am going to follow their recommendation.
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Just use PVC. What's the worst that could happen?
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:11 AM   #8
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Devilbiss recommends black iron over copper. My shop is plumbed with black iron, the new stuff, plastic or aluminum with the special fittings looks easier to install, no threading or sweating of joints. More $$$$$$ though.
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

PVC is good enough......kidding of course. This topic has been covered to death and back.

Last edited by rburke65; 05-12-2010 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

use garden hose
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Old 05-12-2010, 03:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

The tables indicate all 3 will handle the pressure however the thicker wall may offer an added measure of protection from physical abuse.
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Old 05-12-2010, 03:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Type M is fine. I have worked in many shops with plain old M. There has never been a pipe blow out. We've had regular solder joints get yanked off from abuse though. I'm talking 75,000 square foot shops that have been in operation for 20 years. Now if you are going to run 175 PSI or larger diameters than 3/4" then L would be appropriate. Use a silver bearing solder and away you go. Like said if it did let go then all it would do is split and you'd have a helluva noise. You will not get a brittle fracture with schrapnel like you would with some plastics. If you get a bargain on L go for it otherwise it's a waste of money. I'm about a anal as you get when it comes to safety and doing it right and am a Mech Eng Tech by profession. I researched all of this and yes I consulted the copper handbook. I plumbed my shop in M and I'm not losing any sleep.
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Go to the Copper Tube Handbook, by the Copper Development Association.

http://www.copper.org/publications/p...e_handbook.pdf

Page 9, lower RH corner will tell you to use either K, L, or M pipe for compressed air, depending on pressures.

Pages 25 and 26 will have charts of L and M pipe in various sizes and pressure ratings at various temps for both drawn and annealed condition.

The table on page 28 will show you that it is probably unsafe (due to pressure ratings of the joints) to solder with 50/50 Tin-Lead solder and that you should use 95/5 Tin-Antimony solder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingnut65 View Post
I just researched that yesterday and found info at copper.org. Go with Type L!

Here is a link to their online 'Copper Tube Handbook' for identification of copper tube. Clikc on the "(See Table 1)" blue link and a table will pop up with info on approved applications. They do not list Compressed Air for Type M copper, only Type L and Type K. http://www.copper.org/applications/p...1stand_id.html

If I use copper, I am going to follow their recommendation.
LOOK AGAIN!

Select the "select the right tube for the job" link

http://www.copper.org/applications/p...ect_recom.html

Then scroll to the bottom. Blue links there take you to the same tables I reference above in the complete handbook, pages 25 and 26.

Charles

Last edited by Charles (in GA); 05-12-2010 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 05-12-2010, 08:55 PM   #14
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

When I built my shop in ohio in 1973 I used "M" and 50/50 solder.I put all the lines in the walls.Never had a leak or failure,its still working now because my son is there useing it.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:04 PM   #15
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Thanks Charles for the info on the copper selection table. When I first found that table, it was in Greek. Now, after research, I understand the difference in the Annealed VS Drawn pressure calcs. Looks like Type L or Type M would work for small DIY sized compressors.

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Old 05-12-2010, 10:43 PM   #16
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

I am using ACR for my air lines. Go to your local refrigeration supply company for a price. Also refrigeration supply houses carry 20' sticks.
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:10 PM   #17
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

I just use those cardboard tubes that come wrapped around wrapping paper.
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:39 AM   #18
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Default Re: Copper pipe for compressor lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsloop View Post
use garden hose
Years ago I used air-hose when I had no money but a few extra hoses. Lasted about 10 years before I ripped it out. Most of it was still 'good' when it came out, a couple of spots were swelled a bit.

Uh, no I'm not recommending that as a solution!
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