For a long time, copper reigned as the king of plumbing, but the king is dead. A new king is on the scene and it’s causing quite a stir. Many new homes and remodels are now using a product called PEX. These flexible pipes can be installed faster and, since they are movable, make some plumbing jobs much easier to route. So what is PEX and what do you need to know about it before hiring a plumber to repair or install your plumbing?
What Is PEX?
At its most basic level, PEX is cross-linked polyethylene tubing that’s most frequently used in households for plumbing applications. The material is flexible and easier to use than copper or other older pipe materials, so it’s becoming much more popular in many commercial and residential buildings.
How Long Does PEX Last?
While PEX is just starting to gain steam in the U.S., the product has been used as a standard in other countries for more than 30 years, proving the effectiveness of the material over time. The average lifespan for PEX plumbing materials is considered 50 years.
This tubing is much more durable than copper pipes. The cost of PEX, since it is less expensive to install, will be a much better value in the long run. Copper is also prone to erosion, which is not a problem with PEX plumbing.
Selling copper has also become popular on the black market, so copper plumbing is attractive to thieves. This contributes to the high cost of the material. PEX will be less expensive and more durable over time.
Is PEX Safe?
PEX has actually been available since the 1980s, but with the push toward green building it’s gained popularity over the last decade. Some people are concerned about the material in terms of safety in the home.
The biggest concern comes from whether or not the material will leach toxins into a home’s drinking water. PEX is BPA-free, which is the most common contaminate caused by plastic leeching into the water supply. Some people will still choose copper because of the perceived safety issues, though there are some concerns about that form factor as well.
However, neither material is specifically dangerous. The concerns about water toxicity are incredibly minimal. Most experts will agree that the choice between PEX and copper plumbing installations may depend on personal preferences and the scope of the project.
Who Can Install PEX?
The truth is, with simple tools and materials, anyone can install PEX. There are plenty of instructional videos and tutorials online that can allow for homeowners to DIY their own projects.
But we don’t recommend doing it yourself.
Whenever it comes to any invasive home project such as plumbing, it’s best to rely on the professionals. Hiring a licensed, bonded, and insured plumber will protect you, your home, and the work that’s being done.
If something does go wrong with your self-install of PEX plumbing, it may be costly to fix. You may need to tear out walls or replace other damaged materials. It’s best to make sure that your PEX project is done right the first time.
Contact Simpson Plumbing to talk to us about your plumbing needs and determine if PEX is the right material for your project.