PEX tubing is widely used to replace copper in plumbing applications. One estimate is that residential use of PEX for delivering drinking water to home faucets has increased by 40% annually, and there is substantial evidence that PEX is or will soon become the dominant technology for carrying water in homes and businesses in the next decade or so.
In the twentieth century, the first plumbing pipes were made from galvanized steel water pipes. As users experienced problems with the internal build-up of rust which reduced water volume, these were replaced by copper pipes in the late 1960s.
Plastic pipes with fittings using glue were used as well in later decades. Initially PEX tubing was the most popular way to transport water in hydronic radiant heating systems, and it was used first in hydronic systems from the 1960s onwards.
Hydronic systems circulate water from a boiler or heater to places in the house needing heat, such as baseboard heaters or radiators. PEX is suitable for recirculating hot water. Gradually PEX became more accepted for more indoor plumbing uses, such as carrying pressurized water to fixtures throughout the house. Increasingly, in the 2000s, copper pipes as well as plastic PVC pipes are being replaced during home repiping with PEX.
PEX can be used for underground purposes, although one report suggested that appropriate "sleeves" be used for such applications.
PEX Piping Pros & Cons
Pros of using PEX in plumbing include:
Flexibility: PEX has become a contender for use in residential water plumbing because of its flexibility. It can bend into a wide-radius turn if space permits, or accommodate turns by using elbow joints. In addition, it can handle short-radius turns, sometimes supported with a metal brace; in contrast, PVC, CPVC and copper all require elbow joints. A single length of PEX pipe cannot handle a sharp 90-degree turn, however, so in those situations, it is necessary to connect two PEX pipes with a 90-degree PEX elbow joint.
Direct routing of pipes: PEX can run straight from a distribution point to an outlet fixture without cutting or splicing the pipe. This reduces the need for potentially weak and costly joints and reduces the drop in pressure due to turbulence induced at transitions. Since PEX is flexible, it is often possible to install a supply line directly from the water source to an appliance using just one connection at each end.
Greater water pressure at fixtures: Since PEX pipes typically have fewer sharp turns, there is greater water pressure at the sinks and showers and toilets where it is needed. Less materials cost. Cost of materials is approximately 25% of alternatives. One account suggested that the price of copper had quadrupled from 2002 to 2006.
Easier installation: Installing PEX is much less labor intensive than copper pipes, since there is no need to use torches to solder pipes together, or to use glue to attach pipes to fittings. PEX connections can be made by pushing together two matching parts using a compression fitting, or by using an adjustable wrench or a special crimping tool. Generally, fewer connections and fittings are needed in a PEX installation.
Reliable: It neither corrodes nor develops so-called "pinhole" leaks.
No fire risk during installation: Copper piping required soldering using torches, and there was a risk of flame and heat causing a fire; but with PEX there is virtually no danger from fire.
Acceptance by plumbers: There are routinely advertisements for plumbers specifically seeking ones with PEX experience.
Ability to merge new PEX with existing copper and PVC systems. Manufacturers make fittings allowing installers to join a copper pipe on one end with a PEX line at the other, as well as have options to reduce or expand the diameter of the pipes.
Longevity: The advantageous properties of PEX also make it a candidate for progressive replacement of metal and thermoplastic pipes, especially in long-life applications, because the expected lifetime of PEX pipes reaches 50 years. However, the longest warranty offered by any PEX producer is 25 years.
Suitable for hot and cold pipes: A convenient arrangement is to use color coding to lessen the possibility of confusion. Typically, red PEX tubing is used for hot water while blue PEX tubing is used for cold water.
Less likely to burst from freezing: The general position is that PEX plastic materials are slower to burst than copper or PVC pipes, but that they will burst eventually since freezing causes water to expand.
No corrosion: Copper and iron pipes can experience corrosion leaks but PEX does not have these problems.
Environmental benefits: One account suggested that PEX used in radiant heating was better for the environment than a copper choice, although it noted that the pipes were based on petroleum products.
Pipe insulation possible: Conventional foam wrap insulation materials can be added to PEX piping to keep hot water hot, and cold water cold, and prevent freezing, if necessary.
Cons of PEX piping include:
Degradation from sunlight: PEX tubing cannot be used in applications exposed to sunlight, as it degrades fairly rapidly. Prior to installation it must be stored away from sunlight, and needs to be shielded from daylight after installation. Leaving it exposed to direct sunlight for as little as 30 days may result in premature failure of the tubing due to embrittlement.
Fittings somewhat more expensive: Generally PEX fittings, particularly the do-it-yourself compression ones, are more expensive than copper ones, although there is no soldering required. Due the flexibility of PEX, it generally requires fewer fittings, which tends to offset the higher cost per fitting.
PEX Piping is Government approved
PEX has been approved for use in all fifty states of the United States as well as Canada, including the initially reluctant state of California, which approved its use in 2009.
PEX Piping Service Area
Pasadena Plumbing Services Inc. has PEX plumbing repair technicians available through out Harris, Galveston, and Brazoria Counties, including the following area:
|Clear Lake City||League City|
|El Lago||Nassau Bay|
Have a question about PEX Piping, please call us. We would be glad to answer any and all of your questions.
Call the experienced plumbing company for all your plumbing needs. Please Call 281-487-4688