In the past, copper and galvanized pipes have been standard options for plumbing systems, but modern advancements have introduced a new option: pex pipe. You may have heard about this plastic alternative to traditional metal piping, and it’s becoming more common in new homes, budget-friendly renovation projects, and under heated floors. But what exactly is it, and how does it work?
PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene, and it’s an extremely durable and flexible material. It’s also resistant to chlorine, mineral scale, and corrosion, making it a smart choice for your home plumbing system.
But PEX tubing is not without drawbacks, which are important to consider before making the switch. Unless properly installed, it can become susceptible to rupturing under certain conditions, especially in freezing outdoor temperatures or when subjected to sudden water pressure changes. Also, the material is not as sturdy as copper, and it can be easily damaged by sharp tools or excessive heat.
To avoid these problems, plumbers must use proper crimping or clamping methods for connecting PEX tubes. They also need to keep PEX tubing away from direct sunlight, as it can degrade and lose its flexibility over time. PEX tubing should be protected against rodents, too, as they can chew through it and cause leaks.
To help consumers select the right type of PEX tubing, manufacturers use a four-digit material designation code printed on each piece. The first digit indicates chlorine resistance, the second identifies UV resistance, and the third identifies the type of cross-linking used to manufacture the tubing. PEX-a, PEX-b, and PEX-c are the three most common types of manufactured PEX. pex pipe