Water pipes were made of copper and galvanized steel for quite a long time. But today, flexible, colorful plastic is rapidly replacing traditional materials. It appears as rolls blue and red pipe in home improvement stores. While more colorful than plumbing pipes of the past, cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX, has many benefits. Flexible pipe plumbing simplifies remodeling projects and is used in new construction as well.
Flexible Pipe Plumbing (PEX) Explained
How Is PEX Different?
A PEX pipe can be installed in long, continuous runs. Its flexibility allows it to return to its original shape; this “memory” means that no matter how you bend the coil, it will try to spring back to how you found it. PEX pipe also avoids having to install separate connections for each branch that delivers water from the main lines. One end can connect to a PEX manifold and wind continuously to an individual fixture, while using the proper fittings allow connections to existing metal pipes. Additionally, color-coding you allows you to instantly identify hot and cold water lines.
History of PEX
The discovery of crosslinking plastic using radiation took place in 1968. German scientist Thomas Engle was able to create a simpler material. However, flexible PEX pipe didn’t appear in the U.S. until the 1980s. Initially, it was embedded in concrete slabs to form radiant floor heating systems. PEX is still used this way; improvements to fittings have reduced the risk of leaks, while adding antioxidants to the material during manufacturing has helped meet potable drinking water standards.
The technology has advanced to the point that PEX is now the preferred plumbing material. It now accounts for 60% of water supply systems in new residential construction.
Benefits of Flexible Pipe Plumbing
- Easier to Install: Usually doesn’t require elbows and joints and can be run through joists and studs. When fitting joints, use a crimping tool to fit metal rings over barbed fittings. Soldering is not required and connecting PEX tubing is often compared to running a garden hose.
- Cheaper than Copper: PEX costs less than half as much as traditional copper pipe; half-inch tubing is about a third the price.
- Fewer Leaks: Since just a single length of tube is needed per fixture, potential leak points are eliminated.
- Resists Freezing: Able to expand, PEX is more resistant to freeze-cracking, and is less likely to burst even if it freezes solid.
- Does Not Corrode: Eliminates the risk of water leaks and contamination that can occur when copper or steel pipe rusts and corrodes.
- No Water Hammer: The flexibility of PEX reduces pressure and there are fewer tight bends, so loud water hammer noises are eliminated.
However, flexible pipe plumbing does have its drawbacks. If used outdoors, PEX can break down due to exposure to ultraviolet light. Special tools and connectors are also required, which need to be purchased separately; nonetheless, PEX pipe makes DIY installation much more practical. But recycling currently isn’t feasible; it doesn’t melt in the same way other plastics do.
Types of PEX Plumbing
Although there are over 20 different types of PEX, the most common ones include:
- PEX-A: The most flexible and freeze resistant, it is manufactured using peroxide and suited for all residential water-supply plumbing needs.
- PEX-B: Slightly stiffer, it is made using a moisture-cure method and tends to coil back to its original form; PEX-B is also less expensive.
- PEX-C: Manufactured by irradiation, PEX-C is semi-rigid and more prone to kinking and freeze cracking, but is suited for completing short repairs that don’t require sharp bends.
Contact The AC Hero
Serving North Richmond Hills and surrounding areas, we employ highly skilled technicians who are familiar with the latest flexible pipe plumbing options available for residential and commercial use. We are available 24/7 and back all solutions with a 100% guarantee. To learn more, call 817-587-0876 today!