For many decades, copper has been the material of choice for commercial and residential plumbing systems. Although specific characteristics, including heat and high-pressure resistance, still recommend copper for home plumbing, this material can fail sooner than expected due to a wide variety of factors. Additionally, copper is more expensive than other plumbing materials, which are increasingly being used as viable alternatives to traditional materials.
One of these materials is cross-linked polyethylene, also known as PEX. PEX pipes are made of high-density polyethylene, which contains cross-linked bonds within its structure. Compared to uncross-linked polyethylene, cross-linked polyethylene has superior thermal and mechanical properties. To fit a variety of applications, PEX is typically enhanced with different additives for improved thermal stability, flexibility, and durability.
Benefits of PEX versus Copper Piping
Replacing your old pipes with PEX pipes will offer you the following benefits:
Lower Costs – Requiring less energy to produce, PEX is about 25% less expensive than copper. Because PEX is also lighter than copper, manufacturers can store and ship PEX piping on space-saving spools, which translates into lower shipping and handling costs. Additionally, PEX piping is flexible and can be bent around corners easily. Considering that PEX piping requires less cutting and fewer fittings, it’s easier and faster to install than copper. Coupled with low production and shipping costs, the savings resulting from installing PEX instead of copper pipes can be significant.
Better Energy Efficiency – PEX has a lower thermal conductivity rate than copper. As a result, PEX pipes can help keep hot water hotter for longer periods of time. They also produce less condensation on cold water lines, which could lead to fewer moisture-related problems in ceilings and walls.
Quieter Pipes – PEX piping eliminates most of the noises associated with metal pipes, including the banging noise resulting from water hammer. While water hammer doesn’t produce loud noises in PEX pipes, the potential danger for pipe damage still exists. If you observe that your exposed PEX pipes flex or move when you turn off your faucets suddenly, you should have your plumbing system checked by a professional. In general, installing a water pressure regulator can solve water hammer problems.
Long-Term Durability – Besides being more flexible and requiring fewer fittings than copper piping, PEX pipes have better chemical resistance as well as expansion and contraction rates. As a result, installing PEX piping could help you eliminate many of the potential plumbing leaks due to corrosion and failed fittings, which typically affect copper pipes.
Opting for the Right Pipe Replacement Strategy
During your remodeling project, you could opt for two replacement options. If just a pipe or a section of your copper plumbing system is leaking, you could just replace it with PEX piping. But if you have an old copper plumbing system that leaks frequently in different areas of your home, you may want to consider a whole-house repipe. While most people tend to prefer replacing small sections of their plumbing systems, a whole-house repipe is actually simpler and more cost effective than fixing frequent water leaks throughout your home.
Copper Pipe Replacement Process
Replacing old copper pipes with PEX piping involves several steps. First, the plumber uses special equipment to check the location of the pipes behind your walls. Then, he turns off the main water supply and drains the plumbing system. Once the plumbing system has been drained, the plumber cuts and removes the old copper pipes, replacing them with PEX piping. With the help of a crimper and crimp-ring connectors, the plumber will then connect the new PEX plumbing system securely to the main water supply line. Because PEX isn’t a conductive material, the plumber will also check whether your electrical systems are still grounded after installing PEX piping. Although replacing old copper pipes with PEX piping seems pretty simple and straightforward, we recommend enlisting the services of a professional plumber, who is able not only to complete the job expertly and expeditiously, but also to address any unexpected issues that might arise.
According to a recent study, 87% of Americans believe that clean drinking water is more important than clean air. Therefore, many people wonder whether drinking water from PEX pipes is safe or not. Despite the current controversies surrounding the impact of PEX piping on home water quality, all PEX pipes are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 61, confirming compliance with drinking water standards.
Regardless of the plumbing issues you have, whether it’s a leaky pipe that’s wreaking havoc on your home or copper pipes that are corroded on the inside, our skilled and experienced plumbers can accurately identify any plumbing problems and recommend the right plumbing repair or replacement strategies for your property. Contact our friendly professionals to schedule your free consultation today!