Are you thinking about repiping your house following a series of leaks? Are your homes pipes damaged or corroded? If so, you may be wondering whether you should use pex vs copper to get the job done correctly.
In this in depth plumbing 101 guide, we’ll walk you through the differences between pex and copper pipes. We’ll go through the pros and cons of each to help you answer the question of pex or copper?
After reading this guide, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions throughout the repiping process.
Pex vs Copper Pipes – What’s the Difference Between the Two Materials?
Don’t worry if you have no idea which type of pipe to use in your home! There are two options and neither one is the wrong choice; each material has its pros and cons.
Pex piping is a flexible material that’s easy for plumbers to install. It’s made of cross-linked polyethylene, which ranges in size from 1/4-inch to 4-inch, but 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1-inch are the most common commonly used sizes.
Pros of using pex pipe vs copper
- Pex piping has fewer joints, which lowers your overall repiping cost
- Can be used with hot and cold water
- Resistance to breaking during extreme cold weather, so it’s less likely to burst, since it’s a much more flexible material
- Pex has a shutoff valve at each supply line (convenient in the event of repairs)
- Lower shipping and handling costs, as pex pipes are stored on spools and weigh less
Image Courtesy Ameri Severe Repiping
- Cross-linked polyethylene can turn 90 degree corners and doesn’t require plumbers to use elbow fittings
- Pex piping is safer to install (it doesn’t require a torch to make connections)
- It more efficiently keeps heat inside
As you can see, there are many advantages to using pex piping within your home; however, there are also many advantages to using copper pipes within your home.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of using copper below.
Advantages of using copper pipes
Copper pipes have been used by plumbers for quite a long time for hot and cold tap water, as well as within home HVAC systems. There is soft copper and rigid copper, both of which are ideal for different piping purposes.
Soft copper is ideal for air conditioners and heat pumps; rigid copper is more commonly used for water lines, as it can be heated and bent without cracking.
The pex or copper debate – a few reasons to choose copper
- Copper is the only material that comes with a 50-year warrantee from the manufacturer
- For more than 70 years, plumbers have been successfully using copper for piping
- More than 80% of modern homes are built using copper piping
- Copper is a natural material that’s environmentally friendly; you can count on it staying in good condition, even years after being installed
- Color coding makes it easy to know which pipes are hot and cold (red is hot, blue is cold)
- Copper fittings create joints that are leak proof when they’re installed properly
- In the event of a fire, copper tubing will not give off any toxic gases
- Copper tubing prevents harmful bacteria from growing
- Can use copper outside, as it’s not affected by ultraviolet rays
Pex pipe vs copper – the disadvantages to consider
Now that we’ve gone through the advantages of using both pex material and copper material when repiping your home, let’s be sure we cover all the bases by looking at the disadvantages of both.
Cons of using pex
- Pex piping can’t be used outside
- Water damage is possible, as the material is not impermeable (copper is)
- As far as sustainability, pex cannot be recycled after use
Cons of using copper
- Copper can corrode over time
- In cold weather, copper pipes can freeze and burst
- Copper is more expensive than pex (pex costs 1/3 of what copper costs)
As you can see, there are good reasons to use pex piping in your home, as well as good reasons to use copper piping in your home.
If you’re performing the repiping job yourself, you would have an easier time using pex piping material.
If you’re hiring a professional plumbing company to get the job done, copper may be a better choice since it requires soldering, or connecting pipes together using a propane torch.
After reading this detailed guide, we hope you’re walking away with a better understanding of the differences between pex and copper piping. In the end, it’s up to you! Just be sure to consider the pros and cons of each material before investing.