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How strong are the standard copper refrigerator water lines? I have a decent size coil of copper line behind my refrigerator and I am afraid to re-position/re-coil it because I have no idea of it's durability. Is this typically something I can handle and rearrange or should I be leaving it alone?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would minimize the amount you bend them. Think of it like a metal coat hanger, if you bend it in the same place several times, it will break. Only the copper pipe is hollow, so it will break a lot sooner. As best you can, avoid bending it multiple times in the same place.

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This is why I hate soft copper! There is no reason to use it anymore, now that PEX has become accepted. – Tester101 Jul 20 '11 at 0:47
Second, remember PVC? When it first hit the market, contractors were using it for source lines and even water mains as well as drains... until people discovered that PVC leached carcinogens into the water, and then a whole bunch of contractors lost their shirts having to go back under warranty and replace it all with copper. There is concern, though evidence is still light, that PEX can leach harmful BPA, MTBEs and VOCs into water. The industry says it's safe, but the same was said by the industry at some point about lead paint, asbestos and other once-common building materials. – KeithS Jul 20 '11 at 16:54
Third, anywhere the pipe can be exposed to sunlight, it MUST be copper, because sunlight very quickly degrades the chlorine resistance of PEX, and the chlorine in your municipal water, pool or spa will then quickly degrade the pipe itself. – KeithS Jul 20 '11 at 16:57
@KeithS: I didn't say copper does not have it's uses, I have no problem with copper. It's soft or flexible copper I dislike. – Tester101 Jul 20 '11 at 16:58
@Tester: Ah. Fair point. Generally, I don't have a huge problem with soft copper hose for most of its uses, like fridges, as long as it's set up correctly (i.e. in a long coil). In a short coil, the bending has an effect on the pipe very quickly, and yes, they'll snap. However, if you have a 10ft line coiled up behind the fridge, the coil will stretch like a spring, and the bending gets averaged out along the whole coil. That said, I have a nylon fridge line on mine. – KeithS Jul 20 '11 at 17:08

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