If you are the average homeowner, there is a high chance that you have never heard of PEX plumbing. PEX, short for cross-linked polyethylene, is a new type of pipe that can be found in homes. Some plumbers have even referred to it as the best thing since the flushable toilet. Now that you have heard of PEX pipes, you may be wondering why it’s popular. To help you decide if you should purchase PEX piping for your house, we have created an outline of the benefits, drawbacks, and types of PEX water lines.
Table of Contents
What is PEX Piping?
Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipes are the new standard for water pipes in new houses. Cross-linked polyethylene is a category of plastic that is malleable. PEX pipes are popular because they are easier to install and replace when compared to galvanized steel and copper. This type of plastic piping was introduced to the plumbing industry in the 1980’s for residential homes and commercial facilities. PEX water lines are currently utilized in more than 50 percent of new household construction projects.
Advantages of PEX Plumbing Water Lines
One of the biggest advantages of PEX plumbing piping is its flexibility. You can run this type of plastic piping material around corners without having to use any couplings or connectors. If you are performing a plumbing installation project during a household renovation, PEX piping is the preferred material. PEX tubing can be snaked behind walls, which means you won’t have to tear open your sheetrock to install rigid copper pipes. This allows you to save money on demolition expenses.
Copper pipes have become more expensive in recent years. On the other hand, PEX water lines are not expensive and are usually a fraction of the cost of copper pipes. Costs are further reduced because PEX plumbing can be wrapped and stored on a spool. This reduces the shipping costs and will save you money.
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You have probably heard of a pipe bursting in homes. If you have experienced this issue beneath your flooring or walls, you are likely familiar with the high fees associated with water damage repair projects. Since PEX plumbing pipes have more flexibility, they are able to expand and contract. This type of plastic piping is less likely to burst when compared to other types of water lines.
Do it Yourself
If you need to make an adjustment to the copper pipes in your household, you would need to know how to solder. Using a soldering tool without a plumbing license is very dangerous. A huge benefit of investing in PEX piping includes easy repairs and replacements. Once you have the right tools, you will find that replacing valves or adding lines is not very complicated.
Acidic water is an ordinary issue in suburbs, cities, and rural areas across the United States. Don’t worry, some of the best drinking water is slightly acidic. Unfortunately, acidic water corrodes metal pipes. While the metal ions from copper aren’t going to hurt you, the corrosion can eventually eat your pipes. PEX plumbing tubing is resistant to corrosion. If you have acidic water, we recommend purchasing PEX piping.
Disadvantages of PEX Piping
Sensitive to Light
Most types of PEX piping are not designed to be exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light for a prolonged period of time. Light from the sun and the light bulbs in your house may cause damage to this type of plastic water line. In most cases, the light in your home will not negatively impact PEX water lines since they are usually installed beneath your flooring, walls, or ceiling.
Vulnerable to Bacteria & Moisture
Copper pipes provide superior protection from harmful types of bacteria. On the other hand, PEX water lines are susceptible to bacteria in rare circumstances. Many homeowners choose to invest in copper pipes to ensure their supply of water is sanitary. In most cases, PEX pipes are able to provide a sanitary supply of water and are safe to use in your home. On the other hand, PEX pipes that are located underground are also vulnerable to moisture. In rare circumstances, moisture may gain access to your plastic pipes and contaminate the water.
PEX water lines are not able to be connected to a hot water heater in your house. The temperature of the water supply in a hot water heater ranges from 120 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, the PEX piping behind your walls and ceiling are not designed to accommodate extremely high temperatures. As a result, a PEX pipe that is connected to a water heater will usually melt or crack.
PEX Pipes Can Be Impaired By Solvents & Rats
Rodents such as rats and mice are able to gain access to the exterior of your PEX plastic piping by chewing on the plastic. On the other hand, other types of piping materials including copper and metal are designed to withstand rodents. If you notice mice in your household, it’s important to call an exterminator to prevent damage to your drywall, pipes, and furniture.
Red vs Blue PEX Tubing
Plumbers are able to purchase short or long PEX tubing to perform maintenance on existing pipes or replace broken water lines. If you have a water leak behind your drywall or ceiling, you can easily identify if the leak is from a cold or hot water line by looking at the color of the PEX piping. Red PEX pipes are designed to distribute hot water in a household. On the other hand, blue tubing is engineered to circulate cold water to your kitchen, bathroom, and backyard.
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If you are comparing PEX water lines at your local hardware store, you may find a variety of other piping colors such as white and gray. White and gray PEX pipes are utilized by licensed plumbers and HVAC technicians to transport warm or cold water throughout a home. We recommend purchasing red and blue piping to ensure it is easy to distinguish between the warm and cold water supply lines behind your walls.
3 Types of PEX Piping
Although PEX-A Pipes are expensive to purchase, this specific type of plastic PEX piping is the most malleable. Type A pipes are extremely flexible because they are assembled with peroxide. A majority of licensed plumbers and HVAC contractors will recommend PEX-A instead of PEX-B and PEX-C because it is able to withstand cold water and freezing temperatures throughout the winter season.
While PEX-A Pipes may be the most flexible, this type of plastic piping is not the best option in suburbs and cities that have a large quantity of chlorine in the drinking water. PEX-B Pipes are engineered to withstand deterioration from chlorine and minerals. On the other hand, this type of water line is more rigid when compared to PEX-A water lines. Type B of PEX piping is more popular when compared to Type A because it’s flexible and less money.
PEX-C pipes are the least flexible type of piping and are designed for houses in moderate climates. Type C of PEX Tubing is vulnerable to holes and cracks throughout the winter season. If you live in an area that receives below freezing temperatures from December to March, you should not invest in PEX-C. Instead, we recommend purchasing PEX-A or PEX-B. PEX-C water lines are ordinarily utilized for small maintenance projects.
Plumbing & HVAC Services Near You
Whether you have PEX plumbing or rigid copper pipes, our team of emergency plumbers are here to help you with any plumbing or HVAC repair. We have been in the electric, plumbing, heating and air conditioning industries for more than 20 years. Our plumbers are certified professionals that provide repair and replacement services for clogged drains, inefficient water heaters, noisy air conditioners, damaged water lines, and broken sump pumps. When you call us, you are putting our years of experience to work for you. If you aren’t certain about PEX plumbing, give our team a call by phone at (732) 201-3305 to receive help. We can walk you through the options and make certain you get what is right for your home.