PEX pipes are made of this highly flexible material that is the result of a slight molecular change to another material called polyethylene or PE. This change can be done physically or chemically and as a result, the polymer chains in the PE molecules are chemically cross-linked.
This makes them “new and improved,” as they say, which makes PEX pipes a lot stronger and resistant to chemicals and cracks when compared to the traditional piping options in the market
PEX pipes are also found to be extremely durable. This material was first introduced in North America in the 1980s. But it has also been around Europe for about the same amount of time where the material has been tested extensively for durability and quality.
PEX pipes were originally developed for plumbing purposes in the 1960s. And while there might be specific local requirements, standard versions of these installations have been approved all across the US. A standard PEX tube is put together using a specific type of metal crimp ring with the appropriate diameter and barbed fittings.
You must also remember to use the corresponding crimp tool to secure it as prescribed. However, using push-in fittings that are popular among DIY-ers is also a decent alternative.
PEX pipes are typically used for regular plumbing needs, fire protection and geothermal piping systems all over the US and Canada. They are even used in fire sprinklers in the US when the pipes meet the specifications.
Piping of this material is also commonly found in water supply lines and portable and small distribution systems. PEX piles are also a good choice for your floor heating and cooling systems and permafrost protection.
PEX pipes were made as an improvement over the materials used in traditional piping systems. So, here’s what you get from this material:
- PEX is a resilient and flexible material that is better at resisting cracks from cold temperatures when compared to both PVC and copper.
- It is a flexible material which makes it relatively easy to install. The flexibility aspect can be taken literally because these pipes can bend and curve around obstacles with ease. This makes them a great choice for tubing.
- Because of their ability to bend, you don’t need to get any elbows or other fittings that accommodate transitions. This makes installation easy and saves you some money too.
It also means the connection is uninterrupted and doesn’t leave any room for leaks due to bad installation. And you can install it yourself because it does not need any soldering like copper pipes do or threading as galvanized steel pipes do.
- It reduces heat transfer and conserves energy when compared to metal pipes like galvanized steel pipes.
- PEX pipes also don’t corrode which is another advantage over metal pipes.
- You don’t have to worry about flow velocity or water pressure due to build-up of scales.
- PEX is cheaper than copper.
As you would imagine, this is not the perfect material. So, it does come with some flaws and you should know what they are before you head out to buy PEX pipes.
- They are not great for outdoor tubing purposes because UV rays have the ability to make their surface hard and eventually cause cracks.
- PEX does not melt like plastic which is a bad thing because you cannot recycle it.
- It is an easier option for DIY-ers but you need to know what kind of tools and connectors to use.
- PEX pipes cannot be used in locations where it is not approved.
- The material is not great at resisting extreme heat or flames which is also why it is not a great fit for outdoor usage where it can be exposed to direct sunlight.
- PEX is also not great at resisting a high level of chlorine which eliminates poolside usage.
- When PEX pipes are used in contaminated soil, the fittings get easily damaged. The same is true using them with products that are made of or based on oil or minerals.
- PEX pipes are also not cleared for usage if there are petroleum storage tanks or waste disposal systems in the vicinity.
These pipes have been around for over half a century now and there is no doubt that they are durable, flexible and an excellent option for household plumbing and then some.
You just need to identify the spots on your property that are not a great fit for this material and you can install these pipes without breaking a sweat.