When it comes to home plumbing, there are a variety of plumbing materials that can be used for piping. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at one of the most popular alternatives to copper pipe: PEX. We’ll discuss what PEX is, how it’s made, and some of its benefits compared to other piping materials. So if you’re considering re-plumbing your home in the near future, read on for all the information you need about PEX pipes.
What are Pex Pipes?
PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene. It is used as an alternative to metal piping systems like copper and CPVC (which are often found in homes built before the 1990s). Like those conduit pipes, PEX has become a popular choice among residential homebuilders because it is more cost-effective than other material options.
The Benefits of PEX
PEX is a plastic tubing that may be purchased in coils or straight lengths. It can run through walls with minimal invasive excavation and does not require soldering – making installation faster and easier – and eliminates the risk of lead poisoning.
PEX is flexible in cold temperatures which is ideal in climates where the temperature can drop below zero without warning.
Although many think that PEX piping systems are relatively new, they were actually developed in early-1960’s Germany by a company called Rohrleitungsbau Edenhausen GmbH. The firm’s initial intention was to replace metal pipes with a more cost-effective alternative that would also be easier to work with.
PEX piping systems are now available throughout the United States and Canada because of their relative ease of installation. They are affordable, durable, and available in many different sizes, shapes, lengths, thicknesses, and colors.
Disadvantages of Pex Pipes
PEX piping systems have a few disadvantages that homeowners should be aware of before making a final decision. First, although PEX tubing is flexible in cold weather it will become brittle and susceptible to cracking if the temperature drops below freezing for an extended period of time.
Since polyethylene is not resistant to heat like metal piping, PEX is not a suitable material for hot water lines. This means that if you have a gas or oil furnace, it can be difficult to connect your home’s heating system with the PEX tubing – especially if the furnace is located in an unconditioned space like a garage or attic.
Also, since UV rays from the sun can break down this material, it is not a good choice for outdoor plumbing. The plastic can also become dirty if the water supply line isn’t carefully filtered before it enters your home.
When you’re hiring a plumber to install a PEX tubing system in your house, ask him or her about any limitations that you should be aware of ahead of time so you don’t end up with an expensive plumbing problem that could have easily been avoided.
Where is PEX Used?
PEX tubing can be used both indoors and outdoors, but it’s mostly used for building water supply lines for homes and businesses. It can also be installed under the flooring of a home or next to an exterior wall. As long as the outside temperature doesn’t drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, PEX can be used in all four seasons.
How PEX is Installed
PEX piping systems are installed using a fusion method. The first step of this process involves creating the pipes by joining the individual pieces of tubing together with couplings, crimping rings, and an electric heating device called a ‘fusion machine’. This creates a strong connection between the pieces of PEX tubing.
Next, the installation crew uses a unique method to push these pieces through holes that are about one inch in diameter. They can easily navigate around obstacles like studs and joists because they are flexible enough to bend into tight spaces.
When it comes time for attaching the PEX piping system to your home’s water supply, a copper ring is crimped onto the tubing and anchored to the home. The compression fitting creates a seal that can withstand pressure under normal conditions.
Since PEX is resistant to corrosion from chlorine, it is also ideal for connecting your home’s plumbing system with swimming pools or hot tubs. You should still take any precautions necessary when using this material if you plan to install it near a pool or spa because the water may become overheated.
Are PEX pipes safe?
The polyethylene plastic in PEX tubing is one of the safest piping materials available today. It does not contain dangerous toxins like lead and it doesn’t release harmful byproducts like some other types of piping, such as galvanized steel.
When you’re shopping for PEX tubing, make sure that it’s made with cross-linked polyethylene (PEX-A or PEX-B). These types of piping are approved for use in potable water systems, while non-PEX-A piping can only be used in non-potable water systems.
How long do PEX pipes last?
PEX piping systems typically last for about 50 years when they are installed properly and well maintained.
How Much Does Pex Cost?
The cost of installing PEX tubing in your home depends on a number of different factors, including the size and length of the installation project, whether or not you want to add manifolds and heat exchangers to your system, and the local market rates for labor and materials.
Depending on these factors, you can expect to pay between $3 and $6 per foot of PEX tubing. A conventional installation with a 100-foot run that includes manifolds may cost around $2,000 or more.
It’s also important to note that if you hire a contractor to install PEX tubing in your home, he or she must be certified through the North American Board of Certified Plumbing and Heating Professionals (NABCHP).
Will PEX pipes burst if frozen?
If you live in a part of the United States where temperatures routinely fall to freezing, you need to take special precautions to ensure that PEX tubing isn’t exposed to extremely cold weather.
As long as the PEX tubing is insulated and your home has enough insulation in its walls and roof, there should not be any problems with it expanding or contracting when the weather gets cold.
However, you should still disconnect the hose bibs for any outside faucets to prevent water from building up inside them before winter arrives. If this is not done, the water could freeze and burst your PEX pipe.
Do you have to insulate PEX pipes?
PEX tubing is resistant to freezing, but insulation will extend the life of your piping system. If you already have PEX tubing in your home, consider purchasing self-adhesive heat tape or pre-slit foam insulation for your Pex pipes to prevent them from freezing during the winter months.