Copper Tube and Fittings for Heating Applications
Natural Gas: The use of copper tube to convey natural gas has become the fastest growing new application for copper tube in recent years. The 2000 edition of the Canadian Standards Association B149 Installation Code permits the use of two Types of copper for above ground natural gas systems and propane systems – Type G/GAS tube meeting ASTM B837, and Type L tube meeting ASTM B88. For underground lines, Type K copper tube, plastic-coated Type G/GAS tube, or plastic-coated Type L tube, are required. Provincial regulatory authorities are expected to adopt these requirements. Local authorities should be consulted before specifying or installing any type of copper tube. In Canada, Type G/GAS tube is also electrostatic spray painted yellow, or jacketted with yellow plastic, for easy identification. Installation of a typical baseboard convector using ¾-inch Type L tube. CCBDA Publication No. 14, available on request, provides detailed information on the design and installation of copper natural gas and propane systems.
Propane: The use of copper tube and flare fittings for propane installations goes back for several decades. It is expected that the popularity of Type G/GAS tube for propane systems will also grow over the next few years.
Part of the early Canadian experience with copper tube for natural gas systems involved existing propane systems which were converted to natural gas without retubing. The copper tube in the propane systems was adequately sized to meet the demands of the appliances, taking into consideration the lower calorific value of natural gas, and resizing was not necessary. These systems continue to give excellent performance.
Fuel Oil: For small diameter fuel lines and connections between the oil storage tank and the burner, soft temper tube is usually used. General Purpose tube or Type L tube are typically selected.
Hydronic Heating: In hydronic systems, hot water is recirculated in a closed loop to provide uniform heat in rooms. For large buildings, systems can be zoned to maintain various temperature levels in different areas. Hard temper Type M copper tube is used for circulation of the hot water from compact boilers to unobtrusive baseboard convectors. The tube inside the convectors usually has large fins to increase its heat transfer properties.
Combo Systems: A relatively recent advance involves the use of combination units for heating water for the potable water supply and space heating. Gas-fired units are particularly popular for this purpose, but other fuels can be used. Since the heated water circulated through the convectors or heat exchangers is also potable, only materials permitted for potable water systems may be used. As a result copper tube and fittings are key components of combo systems.
Radiant Heating: In recent years there has been a resurgence in the popularity of radiant heating. In these systems, low-temperature hot water is circulated through grids of copper tube embedded in a concrete floor or plaster ceiling. Soft temper Type L tube is commonly used for the sinuous or grid patterns in the floor or ceiling. Hydraulics, heat output, and location must be considered when selecting the tube size and spacing. Radiant panels which fit into suspended T-bar ceilings are also available.
Steam Heat: The high corrosion resistance and non-rusting characteristics of copper tube assure trouble-free service and reduce the maintenance of traps, valves, and other devices.
Types K and L meet the requirements of the average steam heating system and Type M may be used for certain low pressure installations. Pressure tables will show which Type will assure adequate safety factor. On condensate and hot water return lines, it is recommended that the last two feet before the heating medium should be double the size of the rest of the line. For example, if the return line is 1-in. tube, then enlarge it to 2-in.
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