If you know that you’ll need to repipe part or all of your home in the near future, it’s important to familiarize yourself with two, top-of-the-line piping materials: copper and PEX. Both are used extensively in plumbing repairs, installations, and repiping projects, and both are significantly better to have in your home than the lead, galvanized steel, or polybutylene piping of years past.
Below, we’ll go into more detail about the pros and cons of copper and PEX pipes and what makes them the go-to materials for plumbers across the nation.
For years, copper pipes have served as the "gold standard" for plumbing pipes. A well-maintained copper pipe plumbing system should perform well for 80 years or more. As a malleable metal, copper expands and contracts on a microscopic level during fluctuations in temperature, which increases that material’s durability.
Copper also acts as a great insulator, which makes it able to retain the heat of hot water through your pipes. Additionally, attractive corrosion-resistant copper plumbing systems transport water reliably and rarely develop leaks.
Probably the chief negative aspect of copper piping relates to its high price. Currently, copper pipes cost more than other plumbing system materials. However, repiping with copper will add value to your property and will reduce the risk of water damage caused by inferior piping. If your copper pipes manage to burst (i.e. from freezing), fixing that rupture could require soldering, brazing, or welding skills, another potential disadvantage.
Lightweight, flexible PEX pipes consist of cross-linked polyethylene. This form of piping actually bears a strong resemblance to tubing. Many companies color code PEX pipes: red for hot water, blue for cold water, and white for supply lines or either hot or cold water.
The advantages of PEX include its ability to contract and expand readily without rupturing or corroding. Unlike copper pipe, it does not require soldering or welding techniques to secure in place. PEX pipes possess a useful lifespan of around four decades. Due to their supple nature, PEX pipes require fewer connections between pipes, which greatly reduces the likelihood of leaks. PEX also offers a more affordable alternative to copper.
Of course, PEX piping does carry some disadvantages. It will crack and break apart under the influence of strong UV rays (making it unsuitable for most outdoor use). Plumbers require specialized tools to cut and join this type of modern pipe. Additionally, disposing of used PEX pipe sometimes proves problematic.
Learn more about our repiping services at EZ Flow Plumbing or call us at (480) 351-1820 to discuss the pipes in your home with a Gilbert piping and repiping expert.