Many construction experts believe crosslinked pex pipes have the potential to revolutionize the plumbing industry. Flexible high density polyethylene polymer (HDPE) is melted down and then extruded into a tube shaped die. Crosslinking is achieved by one of three different methods: Engels, Silane or Radiation. While the Engels method produces a more flexible product, all three methods meet industry wide ASTM, NSF and CSA standards. Though copper has been the standard for both residential and commercial plumbing systems since the mid 1960's, plumbers have now discovered pex pipe offers many advantages over rigid metal or plastic options.
Whether you are installing a traditional main line and branching system or a manifold and home-run system, because pex pipe is similar in composition to an outdoor garden hose, it is extremely simple to run through floor joists, ceiling rafters, wall studs and around bends. Available in both long and short runs, pex is often used in remodeling projects because it is easier to maneuver through existing wall space, often reducing sheetrock and insulation damage, which reduces remodeling expenses.
Pex pipes are less expensive than copper, although a special installation tool is required in order to install the fittings. Depending on the size of the job, the cost savings of pex versus copper will offset this additional expense. Generally, because there are only two connection points, installation is less labor intensive than soldering copper fittings. When choosing pex pipes over chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipes (CPVC), the initial monetary cost will be approximately the same but the health benefits are greater. CPVC fittings are joined with a glue requiring installation be done in well ventilated spaces or with a respirator.
Many times, minor plumbing problems can quickly become major concerns due to corrosion. Though copper generally has a lifespan of around 25 years, if the water flowing through those pipes is highly acidic, copper can and will corrode, causing pinhole pricks that can burst without warning. Also, high flow rates can cause erosion throughout the entire system. Pex pipe is not affected by minerals in the water, changing exterior temperatures, nor by constant or sudden high flow rates. Freezing temperatures don't affect pex pipe due to the same chemical properties that makes it both durable and pliable.
In addition to being used in plumbing services, pex pipe has become a popular option in the installation of under the floor radiant heating systems. No matter which application you choose, you will be happy with the ease of installation and the lifelong benefits that pex pipe brings to your home.