PEX piping, or Crosslink Polyethylene Piping, is an alternative to copper or plastic piping in homes. PEX piping is flexible, resists corrosion and chlorine build-up, and doesn’t have ion reactions that cause pinholes in the pipe. Many contractors are using PEX piping now due to the ease and quickness of installation. There are several other advantages to PEX piping.
• Since PEX piping is less expensive than copper or plastic piping, you can install individual supply lines to every sink and faucet in lieu of one main line with various feeder lines. This will allow strong, consistent pressure at every faucet in your home.
• Installation of PEX piping does not require all the fittings that copper or plastic piping does. PEX’s flexibility allows it to turn corners without elbows. Also, it can be installed in long lengths without coupling fittings.
• PEX fittings are not installed using a soldering torch. This eliminates lead-based solder, acid fluxes, and any safety issues.
• PEX is hardier than copper piping. Copper piping can harbor scale build-up and will pit and corrode if the water is acidic or ionized.
• PEX is also more durable. It is less likely to break due to freezing of pipes than copper or plastic piping.
• PEX piping is energy efficient as it's not as heat conductive as copper or plastic.
• PEX piping is a quieter piping system.
• PEX is less expensive due to initial lower material costs, lower labor installation costs, and lower repair costs because there are less fittings.
Standard Connection Method
PEX piping is connected to brass PEX fittings using a PEX crimping tool with a copper crimp ring.
Expansion Fitting Method
If the PEX piping’s diameter needs to be enlarged, an expansion tool is used and expansion fittings are placed into the piping. The PEX piping will conform to the shape of the fitting. A plastic ring should be installed over the fitting.
This is the same as the standard connection method mentioned previously, however, in lieu of copper clamps, stainless steel clamps are used.
While standard compression fittings can be used with PEX piping, they are more expensive than PEX fittings so will increase the cost of the entire installation.
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Article by Jennifer Weldon