PEX vs. Copper Piping
Advantages and Disadvantages of PEX Piping and Copper Piping
If you are like the rest of us non-plumbers, then there is a good chance that you dont know which plumbing pipe is better. You may not even know what a PEX pipe is. Relax: Not many of us do. Were not plumbers, but maybe its time that increase our basic knowledge so that we know what we are getting and whether it is something we truly want. Once you know the basics, youll feel more comfortable to find a plumber to help you with your piping needs.
Now youre probably wondering what PEX piping is. Well, it is cross-linked polyethylene pipe. After going through several processes, the material becomes durable for extreme temperatures (hot or cold), creep deformation which happens from long-term exposure to stress, and chemical attack from acids, alkalies and the like. All of this makes PEX an excellent piping substance for hot and cold water systems, especially since PEX is flexible and well adapted for temperatures below freezing all the way up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
As mentioned above, PEX is a good plumbing material because it is flexible and easy for plumbers to install. PEX is also resistant to breaks in cold weather and has fewer joints, bringing your costs down.
Since copper piping has been around for decades, we know that the metal is durable and flexible, making it easy to install especially compared to iron pipes. Copper piping also provides a biostatic atmosphere, making it difficult for bacteria to grow inside of it, which is an important health consideration.
Copper also resists corrosion and is unaffected by ultraviolet rays, which means it can be used for outside needs. This is unlike PEX pipes, which are affected by ultraviolet rays and therefore should not be used outside. However, copper can corrode due to the pH of the water if it is too acidic or too basic for the pipes. But just because it corrodes doesnt mean that the water is bad for you. Try to think of it like this: the Pacific Northwest region of the US and, of course, Canada, has some of the best drinking water in the world, but that very same water has a corrosive effect on the pipes.
So the choice between PEX and copper is solely yours, but keep in mind a few of the advantages and disadvantages of each system before you decide.
Some Advantages of PEX Are:
- Adaptable and easy-to-use plumbing system
- Can be used with hot and cold water
- Can also be used with metal and PVC piping
- PEX has fewer fittings, making it faster to install and with less of a chance to leak
- PEX is more burst-resistant due to its flexibility to expand and contract
- It has a shutoff valve at each supply line, making it more convenient for you when you have to get repairs done
- PEX can have a pressure balanced system
- Since it is flexible, the pipes can be bent around most corners and usually wont need a coupling or fitting
PEX Has Some Disadvantages that You Should be Aware Of:
- It cannot be used outside
- Cannot be recycled, due to its shorter life use
- It provides an impermeable membrane that may allow the possibility of water contamination
- The pipes may be damaged if left outside for a long period of time
The Advantages of Copper Are:
- Durable and flexible, making it easy to install
- Safer in natural disasters
- Weather and bacteria-resistant
- Resists corrosion, more so than other metals
- Unaffected by ultraviolet rays, so it can be used outside
- Copper does not release toxic gases in a fire because it resists burning
- In earthquakes, the slightly elastic pipes flex so that they dont snap
- Copper is recyclable, making it a more sound environmental choice
Copper Piping Also Has Disadvantages that Should be Considered:
- Can corrode
- Has become expensive
- With higher levels of copper from corrosion, water can have a metallic taste
- Copper can freeze and break during cold water