Many would argue that one of the most significant advantages of living in modern times is indoor plumbing. Most people would agree that they are glad to live in an age when chamber pots and outhouses are no longer necessary.
While there is a lot of appeal in the ability to flush it and forget it, the waste we produce in our homes has to go somewhere.
There are many different types of pipe systems designed to remove household wastewater. One thing all of these systems have in common is a dependence on pipes.
Pipes are essential for moving water into and out of houses, businesses, and other structures. The material these pipes are made of has a significant impact on how well a waste removal system works.
The most common materials used to make the piping necessary for indoor plumbing are PVC (polyvinyl chloride), CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), PB (polybutylene piping), copper, galvanized steel, and PEX.
What Is PEX Plumbing?
The word “PEX” stands for cross-formulated polyethylene. “PE” references polyethylene, the base substance of the pipe compound, and the “X” stands for the cross-linking of molecules.
PEX was first created in the late 1960s by German engineers. It made its way to the United States in the ‘80s, first used for radiant floor heating, a system of laying pipes in concrete and running hot water through them to warm the room.
How PEX Compares to Other Piping Materials
Compared to other common plumbing pipe materials, PEX plumbing pipe is much more flexible, making it easier to work with and install. Copper pipe, for instance, is 180 times more rigid than PEX – and PVC offers a little more flexibility but not much if you want it to have a long lifespan.
PEX pipe is also highly tolerant of extreme cold and hot temperatures and resists freeze damage. PEX tubing is similarly pressure-tolerant and resists corrosion and chlorine damage.
Pros of PEX Piping for Plumbing
PEX plumbing offers several advantages over other piping materials commonly used for piping:
- PEX is significantly cheaper to install than materials like copper and does not require a plumbing permit.
- Because of its flexibility, PEX is much easier to work with than many other common tubing materials.
- PEX piping resists corrosion.
- Because PEX is plastic, it functions more quietly than metal-based pipes.
- PEX conducts heat quite well, making it more efficient at carrying hot water.
- PEX is more environmentally friendly than many common piping materials.
- PEX resists buildup of mineral scaling.
- PEX is a highly durable material and requires fewer fittings.
- PEX piping material is safe for your water supply lines and drinking water
- PEX resists chlorine and chloramine.
- PEX is freeze-resistant.
Cons of PEX Piping for Plumbing
While PEX piping offers quite a few advantages over other materials, it also has a few drawbacks:
- PEX pipes are susceptible to damage from UV light. While this is rarely an issue once the pipes have been installed, if the tubing has been exposed to UV light beforehand, it can cause problems.
- In some instances, PEX pipes have released toxic chemicals into the water supply.
- PEX is a permeable material, so liquids can intrude on the pipe’s contents.
- A PEX can be easily damaged by rodents and other small animals.
- PEX is not a recyclable material.
Our Final Say
PEX is a handy material for creating a plumbing system. While there are a few drawbacks to using PEX, its pros of a pex plumbing system easily outweigh its cons.