There’s a newer plumbing material in town that giving traditional solutions a run for their money. It’s called cross-linked polyethylene piping, or PEX piping. Those rolls of blue, red, and gray plumbing that are rolled up like a hose is PEX piping. It’s flexible, strong, and can work well with most plumbing systems. If you’re asking what is PEX piping, we’re sharing everything you need to know about it and how it can benefit your home.
Why Do Plumbers Prefer PEX Piping?
One of the best things about living in 2021 is that we have so many options when it comes to building materials and methods. Traditionally, copper and steel were the building materials of choice when it came to pipe work. While those materials are still widely used throughout the plumbing industry, PEX is gaining in popularity.
Two of the biggest reasons we’re seeing more plumbing using PEX is because of the cost and ease of use. PEX piping can cost 1/3 the amount of copper and is more durable. Also, PEX is flexible. Plumbers prefer using PEX because they can easily bend and move it to fit their needs.
Brief History of PEX Piping
PEX pipe is nothing new. In fact, it was first invented in 1968 by Thomas Engle, a German scientist. Engle found a way to make a much softer and more pliable version of polyethylene piping. This new piping first found its way to America in the 1980’s when it was primarily used for radiant floor heating.
Though Europe used PEX piping for plumbing during the 80’s, it didn’t catch on in the US for awhile after. When it first came over, it had some issues with deterioration. Over time, technological advancements and various innovations led to enough improvements that PEX pipes are now used in 60% of new residential construction.
PEX Pros and Cons
Just like everything else, PEX piping has some downsides. In our opinion the good outweighs the bad, but we want you to be the judge of what building material goes into your home.
As we mentioned above, PEX piping is a more affordable and durable option. While it won’t last as long as copper piping, PEX won’t corrode, pit, or scale the same way copper can. The tradeoff is that PEX piping will deteriorate if homeowners routinely use water 180° Fahrenheit or hotter.
PEX is flexible, literally. The piping can be bent easily around corners which negates the need for additional fittings and work. Also, when remodeling a home and putting in new pipes, PEX allows you to connect tubing without removing drywall. On the other hand, copper pipes would need extra fittings and would need a plumber to pull down your wall for any in home installation.
While PEX may sound like the greatest thing ever, there is one more drawback we need to share with you. PEX pipes can only be installed in certain areas. Ultraviolet, or UV light, can significantly damage PEX. Therefore, PEX can only be installed underground, in walls, or other places where it won’t see the light of day. Another drawback is that PEX can be damaged by chlorine. Before you consider PEX piping, be sure to see how much chlorine is in your water supply.
Despite this, PEX has the advantages we talked about earlier. To learn more about plumbing materials and solutions ask our expertly trained plumbers.
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