Copper versus PEX Pipes [Video]

Is PEX Pipe Better Than Copper Pipe?

You may have heard lots of hardware-store hype on this topic but the question isn’t whether one type of pipe is better than the other, it’s a question of which is better for a given application. The most common arrangement for most projects is to have PEX piping running in most of the home and copper piping on any outside features. So, when it comes to copper vs PEX pipes, the answer is that PEX is not better than copper, but it is an ideal option for most indoor plumbing.

What Lasts Longer, Copper, Or PEX?

In real-world applications, PEX holds its own with copper in terms of durability. Each one has a lifespan of about 50 years when installed properly. PEX was just invented in the 1980s and has taken off in the last decades due to how affordable and effective it is. You will hear people complain that in locations with “aggressive water” copper piping has a greatly reduced lifetime from its promise of 50 years because of corrosion, but they are basically comparable in terms of longevity in the indoor applications where PEX is used. Outside is a different story, as you’ll see.

Why Is PEX Plumbing Bad? 

Short answer, it isn’t! But just like our original question, it is really about the application. PEX cannot be exposed to sunlight and it also cannot be buried directly into the ground. PEX is exclusively used for interior plumbing. PEX is so durable and functional that it has taken over most indoor plumbing applications, but there are a few very limited circumstances where it may not be the right solution. For example, if you are unable to control a rat problem, PEX is vulnerable to being chewed by rodents. Typical solutions involve wrapping the PEX, replacing horizontal piping with copper, or better yet, solving the rodent problem at the source. 

You might have heard PEX was banned in California, but that is outdated information. There were concerns about toxic leaching, but numerous national laboratory tests have debunked that idea. PEX has always been safe and is now legal everywhere in the US.

What Are The Disadvantages Of PEX?

PEX costs about ⅓ of what copper costs and are much easier to install in such a way that leaks are rare. System failures and leaks occur when the product is misused, for example when it is left exposed to the sun before installation or when fittings don’t adhere properly. That is the case with any plumbing material, if it is mishandled it can fail, which is why you want to work with reputable, experienced plumbers like PHEND Plumbing. 

Is PEX Okay For Drinking Water?

Yes, PEX is ideal for all interior home plumbing. In fact, they are even color-coded so that red piping is used for hot water and blue for cold.

More About PEX

PEX often holds up to freezing and thawing. This is not something you *want* to happen, but it is good to know for emergencies. In the Washington Post, Tim Carter of AskTheBuilder mentions this feature and concludes “I’m a big believer in PEX. And because it’s so easy to install, I’d use it in any new home I’d build.”

PEX manufacturers make a strong case that PEX piping is better for the environment and a Franklin Associates paper (PDF here)  concludes that PEX, when used with brass, emits fewer greenhouse gases than all kinds of copper and it has an overall lower impact than copper.

So, if you are a homeowner in the Gilbert Mesa area and you want input on what solution is best for your situation, give PHEND Plumbing a call and we are able to assist. Call to get a free estimate, you can reach us at 480-388-6093.

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