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PEX vs. Copper Piping: What to Consider for Your Home

If you’re redoing some of the piping in your home or working on a new construction project, you’ll need to choose the material you’re using for that piping. Copper remains a popular option, but in recent years, cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) has exploded in popularity, particularly in the world of remodeling and renovating.

There are pros and cons to using each one of these kinds of materials. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important factors to consider in your decision, and where each one has the advantage.

Durability

In general, you can expect copper to last longer than PVC pipes. Copper will give you a good 50 to 70 years of service, while PEX can be expected to last 30 to 50. The life expectancy of PEX might become even shorter if you tend to keep the temperature set particularly high in your water heater, or if the water supply coming into your home has excessive chlorine levels, while the life expectancy of copper is diminished in the presence of water with high acidity. But in average conditions, copper is the more durable option and will best PEX by about two decades.

Installation

Copper’s rigidity can make it a bit more difficult to install, especially when considering the flexibility of PEX. Copper pipes must be cut to size and use elbow fittings at every corner, which will increase the amount of labor in the installation process. However, PEX runs continuously and is able to bend around corners without needing any additional connections. This flexibility is what makes PEX the top choice for remodeling projects, because it can be more easily snaked through already-finished walls without having to remove any drywall. The same can’t be done with copper piping.

Cost

The added durability of copper does come with a price. Copper is significantly more expensive than PEX—anywhere from 58 to 68 percent more so on average. This is partially due to the recycle value of copper. If you’re attempting to get the job done on a budget, PEX is probably going to be the better decision for you.

Freezing

One of the big drawbacks of copper pipes is that they are much more likely to freeze and crack if the water inside freezes. The greater flexibility of PEX allows it to expand a little bit along with water inside of it. This is much less likely to be a concern in newer construction, because new plumbing installation methods are designed to better insulate pipes. But if you have an older home where freezing pipes are an issue, you may be better off using PEX for a remodel for this reason.

Shutoff valves

In a PEX system, every pipe will connect to a water distribution manifold, located near the spot where your water main enters the house. Meanwhile, every individual pipe has its own shutoff at the manifold. With copper pipes, you’re more likely to have shutoff valves located near water fixtures, which may or may not be easy to access.

These are just a few of the factors you should take into consideration when choosing the kind of piping you’ll use in your home. For more tips and information, contact us at PipeMasters: info@pipemasters.ca or (289) 404-9063.

PipeMasters is part of Oakridge Plumbing Ontario Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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