Homeowners are always going to face plumbing issues. It’s inevitable. But sometimes, a simple repair isn’t enough. Fixing pipe leak after pipe leak can be daunting. Eventually, you may need to have your entire home repiped. A complete home repipe sounds like a huge job, but homeowners don’t need to be intimidated. In this article, we’ll go over the entire process determining what PEX is and how it is used in residential home plumbing repipe projects.
Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubing is a plastic material used for water supply piping systems. The product offers several advantages over copper, PVC, and galvanized steel plumbing pipes. PEX is flexible and easier to install than a rigid pipe, and it offers high heat-resistance and long-term durability.
Is PEX Pipe Reliable?
Even though they are both plastic, PEX tubing has different properties than Polybutylene, a popular residential water supply piping solution used from 1978-1995 in southern US states. While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in the public water supply, such as chlorine, react with the polybutylene piping and acetal fittings causing them to scale and flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result, and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property.
PEX is tougher, can withstand heat better, and harder to cut through than polybutylene. PEX has been used safely for potable water in the United States for the past two decades. If you suspect your home has polybutylene water supply piping, it is important to have a thorough inspection to determine options.
PEX Pipe Advantages Over PVC and Copper
Ideally, water moves more smoothly through PEX than it does through copper and so it can be much quieter. Another advantage of PEX is that it doesn’t corrode like copper. This is important when there is slightly acidic water. It also resists scale build-up.
PEX is better to use than CPVC in a residential repipe, mostly because you don’t need to use glue to attach the pipe. It is less likely than CPVC to burst if it freezes because it is pliable.
PEX has been proven reliable for years. It can withstand freezing temperatures because it can expand and contract.
PEX cannot be used outside due to heat temperature sensitivity and can fail if left outside for a long period of time. PEX cannot be recycled, due to its shorter lifespan. PEX is also a permeable material, meaning that contaminants coming in contact with the outside of the pipe may be transmitted through the pipe wall leading to water contamination. Unfortunately, there are no standard tests or published lists of materials that might cause permeation with PEX, leaving builders, plumbers and homeowners in the dark.
PEX piping can deteriorate in the presence of ultraviolet rays, so it should not be used outdoors.
Other Uses for PEX
Because it is pliable, PEX is more than just a solution for leaking pipes. It is used in some ways that might surprise you.
Artificial joints. Highly cross-linked polyethylene is used in artificial joints as a wear-resistant material. Cross-linked polyethylene is preferred in hip replacement because of its resistance to abrasive wear.
Dental applications. Some applications of PEX are seen in dental restoration as a composite filling material.
Watercraft. PEX is also used in many canoes and kayaks. PEX is listed by the name Ram-X, and other brand-specific names. Because of the properties of Cross-linked Polyethylene, repair of any damage to the hull is rather difficult.
Power cable insulation. Cross-linked Polyethylene is widely used as electrical insulation in power cables of all voltage ranges but it is especially well suited to medium voltage applications.
Automotive ducts and housings. PEX also referred to as XLPE is widely used in the aftermarket automotive industry for cold air intake systems and filter housings. Its properties include high heat deflection temperature, good impact resistance, chemical resistance, low flexural modulus, and good environmental stress crack resistance.
So you can see PEX is a versatile material with many uses even outside of the plumbing world. While it is strong, resilient and pliable, the key for residential plumbing solutions lies in the installation process.
Is PEX Residential Repiping The Solution For You?
TDT Plumbing offers a variety of plumbing repipe and restoration options for home and business. PEX repiping is one. We believe in giving you options. When we come to evaluate your existing pipe and recommend a repipe, we give you choices. Some of those options don’t require demolition or wall repair which is a relief to many homeowners. If you are thinking PEX, think TDT Plumbing. We are experts at pipe forensics and will make your repipe fast, clean, easy and affordable. We have lots of 5 Star Google ratings, voted a NextDoor Neighborhood Favorite, and a repeat Better Business Bureau Pinnacle Award winner. We deliver plumbing repipe excellence.
PEX Information. www.pexinfo.com/.
Lubrizol Advanced Materials. (n.d.). PEX vs CPVC Product Comparison. Retrieved August 07, 2020, from https://www.flowguardgold.com/pex-vs-cpvc
“Cross-Linked Polyethylene.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Apr. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-linked_polyethylene.
“#1 Best Houston PEX Repiping Specialists with Leak Free Guarantee.” TDT Plumbing, 3 Apr. 2020, tdtplumbing.com/pex-repiping/.