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PEX Is Better Than Sliced Bread

By In PEX Tubing On June 2, 2009


PEX TubingCross Linked Polyethylene water tubing, or PEX, is a relatively new product which was first introduced in North America in 1984.  PEX has been primarily used for radiant floor heating, and more recently water distribution systems.  If you look at any new construction houses, this is probably what you’ll find supplying water throughout the home.  If you have any plumbing projects coming up, I recommend using PEX.  Here’s why:

Ease of installation My favorite feature of PEX tubing is it’s ease of installation.  I’ve soldered plenty of copper tubing, and it’s a time-consuming, pain-in-the-butt process.  Every length of tubing needs to be perfectly measured, cut, reamed, fluxed, and soldered.  I get flux all over myself, I usually end of burning myself on a piece of copper that I forgot was hot, and much care needs to be taken to make sure the torch doesn’t burn other materials in the home.

With PEX, all of this hassle is eliminated.  Because PEX is so flexible, you typically only need to eyeball the length of the tubing before cutting it, and the fittings are quite easy to join together – much easier than soldering.  The first time I installed PEX tubing it was so easy and so fast that it felt like I was cheating.  Plumbing isn’t supposed to be this easy.

Home RunBetter water flow Instead of running large branch lines through the house and tapping off the branch lines with smaller lines to feed bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms, PEX can be configured in what’s referred to as a ‘Home Run’.  This is done by installing a large manifold in the basement near where the water comes in to the house, and then running a separate water supply tube to every single plumbing fixture.  This means that you’ll have much less of a pressure drop when you’re running more than one fixture at the same time, and you’ll get hot water to your fixtures faster.  You can also install shutoff valves for every single line, so isolating a fixture can be done with ease.

Of course, a home run can be installed with any type of water distribution system, but the extra time and cost needed for most other systems typically prevents this from happening.  Oddly enough though, I rarely see home runs installed with PEX.

Less prone to failure Most failures with water supply pipes happens at the fittings, not in the piping itself.  With PEX, there are far fewer fittings needed because the material is so flexible.  Because PEX is so flexible, it is also freeze-break resistant.  In the last several years I’ve seen a ridiculous amout of burst copper tubing from freeze damage, but I’ve never seen freeze damaged PEX tubing.  PEX is also highly resistant to chemical damage.

If you decide to use PEX for your next plumbing project, plan to spend a little time getting trained on how to install it.  The methods for installing PEX tubing vary between manufacturers, and anyone installing PEX tubing is supposed to be certified by the manufacturer.  To get certified, check with the retailer you’re buying the PEX from.   The manufacturers of PEX tubing give free certification classes on a regular basis.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Minnesota Home Inspections

        



About the Author

Reuben

Reuben is a second generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben has worked for Structure Tech since it was purchased by Neil in 1997, and is now co-owner of the company. Reuben’s favorite customers are the ones who have a lot of questions; he grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Reuben has an A.A. degree in liberal arts and has attended most of the Building Inspection Technology classes at North Hennepin Community College. Reuben and his wife are the proud parents of two young childen, Cy Alexander and Lucy Nicole, and have a German Shepherd named Stanley. With two young children Reuben doesn’t have much free time, but he still tries to play disc golf as often as possible during the summer. Reuben lives in Maple Grove, MN. Professional Qualifications / Memberships: *ASHI Certified Inspector *President, ASHI Heartland Chapter *Member, Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI) *Licensed Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Saint Paul Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Maplewood Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Hopkins Truth-in-Housing Evaluator *Licensed Robbinsdale Point of Sale Evaluator *Affiliate Member, Southern Twin Cities Association of Realtors

9 Comments

  • buck 3 YEARS AGO

    any know if pex is code in st. paul mn?

  • Doug Choate 5 YEARS AGO

    Can pex fittings (tee) be inside a wall? Or must it be homerun? Thanks

    • Reuben Saltzman 5 YEARS AGO

      Yes, PEX fittings can be located inside a wall.

  • Rob 5 YEARS AGO

    Reuben, you may want to look into this PEX before boasting. Several inspection companies are now calling out problems with these systems if there are brass fittings and I have spoken with numerous plumbers who will not install these systems. ZurnPex is currently in litigation in several states over damaging leaks from possible failure of their brass fittings due to corrosion. The company says 25 year warranty, but according to the suits denied claims on bases of corrosion. Recommend you research this! Just a heads up from a fellow inspector. P.S. Not all the PEX are under lawsuit, but be careful of the ones with brass currently in homes.

    • Reuben Saltzman 5 YEARS AGO

      Hi Rob, Thanks for reading! I first heard about this lawsuit a little over two years ago, and I read all about the problems at that time. This involves a particular manufacturer, and some specific fittings from them. I'm not concerned. There was a huge class action lawsuit against Carrier, Payne, and Bryant furnaces a couple years ago... but that doesn't mean you should watch out for furnaces, right? I feel the same way about PEX. I think it's a great product. Again, thanks for reading, and I appreciate the heads up from a fellow inspector!

  • Tom 5 YEARS AGO

    I recently have had 2 Pex valve failures in my 20 year old Maryland home built by Ryland. The water lines are copper but the valves the builder used are PEX. I would seriously question the use of these valves as they seem to be failing in my home. I will be replacing all with metal valves.

    • Reuben Saltzman 5 YEARS AGO

      PEX valves with copper water lines? I've never seen that before. Do you have a photo?

  • home inspection new jersey 5 YEARS AGO

    I agree PEX is better then a slice of bread ! haha