Copper theft warning: The importance of considering alternative materials

man with pipe

With the value of raw materials regularly increasing, M&E specifiers and contractors are being urged to consider traditional pipework alternatives in order to reduce risk of theft.

One warning comes from polymer specialist REHAU, as it prepares to unveil a new piece of research highlighting copper theft as a significant problem among M&E professionals. Out of 500 architects, M&E specifiers and contractors, 83% of respondents stated they have experienced copper theft at some point.

Steve Richmond, Head of Marketing & Technical for Building Solutions at REHAU explains: “We have recently seen a 10-year high on some raw material prices, which of course increases its appeal to thieves. This not only has cost implications for construction sites full of new materials, but also causes potential project delays though insurance claims and police reports.”

The report also goes on to find that fluctuating commodity prices for metal pipes impact willingness to specify certain products – 29% big influence, 56% fair influence, 10% not much, 3% no influence. The detailed insights will form a series of reports focusing on different building types over 2021.

Despite these facts, metal remains a commonly used material for heating and plumbing pipework. Steve Richmond says this is predominantly down to being the more familiar option to contractors for many years. However, he states that innovations in polymer and jointing technology are creating a major shift regarding the materials used for heating and plumbing pipes.

Steve continued: “While it is easy to list out the benefits of polymer over metal, this is a debate that has long been dividing the building services industry. Granted both materials have their uses, but in the context of wider building issues the advantages for polymer are clear-cut. Polymers, such as PE-Xa, fluctuate less on price and are not targeted for theft so a lower risk for contractors.”

REHAU advocates that polymer solutions such as its RAUTITAN MLCP system will not only help contractors address these issues, but further enhance projects by answering a number of modern day plumbing and heating challenges.

Steve adds: “It’s important to note that that not all plastic solutions are like-for-like. RAUTITAN is German-engineered which means it’s a universal multi-layer composite pipe system for drinking water and heating. It also has a reliable jointing system consisting of two components; a compression sleeve and fitting with no O-rings. So, it not only provides contractors with more stability around pricing and reduces risk, but ultimately, it’s designed for peak hygiene, durability and easy installation.”

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