Since the mid-60s, copper has been the pipe of choice for new construction and home repiping. However, since around the turn of the century, it has been somewhat pushed aside by flexible piping constructed of cross-linked polyethylene, sometimes known as “PEX” pipes. While PEX pipe is gradually overtaking copper for renovation and new construction, copper plays a significant role in our plumbing system, especially in new construction. If you’re considering replacing your house’s water supply system, start your research since PEX and copper have certain benefits and drawbacks. To help you choose wisely what piping to use on your home improvement project, continue reading about PEX and copper and their key distinctions.
Copper Pipes Have A Slight Edge Over The Lifespan Of PEX
When comparing PEX and copper first, PEX has a predicted life expectancy of 30 to 50 years, while copper pipes will last 50 to 70 years on average and are the more durable option. By using water that is too hot (180 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or water in your home that includes large amounts of chlorine, it may reduce the PEX’s lifespan. Likewise, highly acidic and mineral content in your water can reduce the life of copper. Copper should outlast PEX by around 20 years when installed correctly, and that number could get extended if you use a whole house water treatment system. However, if you use a private well, get your water analyzed. Well water may be tested locally at county offices to see whether it has a lot of acidity, minerals, or chlorine.
When Comparing Copper And PEX, Copper Can Be Recycled
Due to copper’s growing worth as a recyclable material, its price has significantly climbed in recent years, driving up the price of copper-based products as well. For example, installing copper water pipes typically costs much more than PEX.
PEX Is Easier To Install Because It’s Flexible
Because copper is stiff, each time it gets to a corner, it must get cut to fit; for instance, when it changes from a vertical route between studs to horizontally to meet the sink, elbow fittings are required, and you must reduce the pipe to size. Additional connections require further installation. As opposed to this, PEX constantly flows from a water-distribution panel (also known as a manifold) to every fixture (sink, tub, etc.). No extra connections are required since PEX can bend readily around curves.
Flexibility is a huge bonus in renovation projects because PEX is flexible enough to easily move around finished walls without tearing out the drywall. However, in order for the plumber to connect the new copper pipes in a completed home, the drywall needs to be removed.
The majority of water fixtures, including bathtubs, showers, and sinks, have separate shutoff valves. While shutoff valves for showers and tubs usually get hidden by access panels that are locked in place with screws, making them difficult to access. For your sink, they get positioned underneath the vanity cabinet.
A Water Distribution Manifold Is Used, Giving It Easy Access
Each PEX pipe has its own shutoff valve installed right on the water distribution manifold, which is often situated close to the main water supply line that enters the home. Turning off the water supply for each fixture is easy because each line gets labeled for each shutdown valve, for example, “Bathtub” or “Laundry Room Sink.”
Freezing Is An Issue With Copper In Older Homes
While most of us in the Inland Empire won’t have a problem with our copper pipe freezing, it is one of the shortcomings. Copper pipes have a propensity to burst when the water inside the line freezes and expands, which is one of its main drawbacks. However, since PEX is somewhat flexible, it can expand when the water inside freezes, making it more resistant to bursting. Nevertheless, because modern plumbing techniques are made to keep the pipes safe and insulated, there is little chance of copper pipes freezing and bursting in newer homes.
Older houses with inadequate insulation tend to have the issue more frequently. It could be a good idea to choose PEX when having the pipes updated if you live in a cold area, your home is under-insulated, or if you’ve previously experienced problems with frozen water pipes. Comparing PEX and Copper, PEX is better for an older home in a cold climate.
PEX Is Easier For The Do-It-Yourself
Installing PEX pipe is the simpler pipe type for do-it-yourselfers. Using a torch for soldering and sealing the fittings is required to make the appropriate connections in copper pipes. Various simple-to-use fittings are available for connecting PEX pipes, such as clamp fittings, quick-connect fittings, and crimp fittings (which require a specific crimp tool).
Since PEX is flexible, two connections are all that are needed for each fixture. One at the manifold and the other at the fixture itself. Manufacturers of PEX typically offer complete installation tutorials for each type of fitting right on their websites.
Recommended PEX Plumbing System
The PEX plumbing system is the greatest since it has several benefits. When repiping, PEX pipes offer quick installation, low cost, flexibility, and resistance to scaling and chlorine. Home renovations may take a lot of time and money. The installation of a PEX repipe will quicken the procedure and reduce the remodeling costs. In addition, the professionals at Big B’s Plumbing get trained to operate professionally and efficiently. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of a PEX plumbing system.
Why is PEX Superior To Copper In Most Ways?
Because copper fosters a biostatic environment that inhibits bacterial growth, it competes favorably with PEX as a pipe material. Additionally, it is immune to corrosion and unaffected by UV radiation. Copper is hence incredibly resilient. But PEX is superior to copper since it is less costly, labor-intensive, have fewer connections and fittings, and will not heat up like copper. Ultimately, PEX is the best since it is less expensive and installs quickly.