Home construction is constantly evolving. It seems that each year, particularly on luxury home construction jobs, we see new materials, processes, and technology. One of the most prevalent materials to make its way onto the building site is PEX tubing for plumbing. “PEX” is the standard abbreviation for cross-linked polyethylene. In home construction this colorful plastic tubing is primarily used in place of copper in plumbing applications, as well as for radiant heating.
There are many reasons a home builder would employ PEX, but is it better than copper? Here are a few reasons that make it a smart choice.
The overall benefits of PEX outweigh the benefits of copper. As a result, it makes sense for homebuilders and homeowners to choose the product. That’s why we think PEX will eventually overtake copper as the primary choice for residential plumbing.
The benefits start with the cost. PEX tubing can be as much as one-third the cost of copper. That’s a significant savings when you’re considering plumbing an entire luxury home. When the material was first being used, there was an investment required to buy the installation equipment. Most experienced plumbers, however, are now well equipped to deal with PEX on a daily basis.
Unlike the rigid nature of copper, PEX is flexible. This makes it significantly faster and easier to install. Making connections with PEX is done with a special tool that makes short work of the job. In comparison, copper requires soldering for connections. Not only does the flexible nature of PEX save time, but it also allows plumbing professionals to run pipes in places they may not have been able to do so before. This can make retrofitting on a renovation job much easier, and can sometimes simplify the design process for architects and builders. The flexibility of the material also allows plumbers, in some cases, to run pipe straight from a distribution point to an outlook fixture without the need for cutting or splicing.
One of the other major benefits to PEX is durability. PEX will not corrode in acidic water conditions the way that copper will. In addition, PEX is much more resistant to bursting during freezing conditions. The material will, however, eventually burst if the freezing conditions are extreme enough.
PEX has been used in other countries for years. Although it has been a relatively slow build toward the inevitable in the United States, it looks like this will be the obvious choice to replace copper. As homebuilders, we’re used to seeing building materials evolve. This is one way that we constantly improve the end result.