Have you been wondering, “Why is PEX plumbing bad?” If you have, you have arrived at the right place.
In the ever-evolving world of plumbing materials, PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) has gained immense popularity as a versatile alternative to traditional copper and PVC pipes.
Offering several advantages, such as cost-effectiveness, easy installation, and corrosion resistance, PEX plumbing has found its way into countless modern homes and commercial buildings. However, beneath its seemingly attractive facade lies a range of concerns that every homeowner, plumber, or construction professional should be aware of.
From potential health hazards to durability issues, there are several downsides to PEX plumbing. While it is essential to recognize that PEX has its merits, we must also be informed about its drawbacks to make educated decisions for our plumbing needs.
In this blog post, we will give you 10 reasons why PEX plumbing is bad.
So, let’s get started.
What is PEX Plumbing?
PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) plumbing has emerged as a contemporary solution for water supply systems. The reason is that it offers numerous benefits over traditional materials like copper and PVC.
Before diving into the potential drawbacks, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamentals of PEX plumbing and why it has garnered so much attention in the construction industry.
Composition of PEX Pipes
A PEX pipe is a type of flexible plastic tubing manufactured from cross-linked polyethylene. The cross-linking process involves chemically connecting individual polyethylene molecules, resulting in a more durable and heat-resistant material. This unique molecular structure gives PEX pipes exceptional strength and resistance to cracking under extreme temperatures.
PEX pipes come in various diameters. Small-diameter pipes are typically used for residential applications while larger-diameter pipes are more suitable for commercial and industrial projects.
The flexibility of PEX allows for easy bending and maneuvering around obstacles, simplifying installation and reducing the need for fittings. It also makes it a preferred choice for flex pipe plumbing.
Why is PEX Plumbing Bad: Top 10 Reasons
Corrosion resistance and cost-effectiveness are some of the major benefits of PEX pipes. However, there are many potential drawbacks and concerns associated with this material.
Now, to answer your question, “Why is PEX plumbing bad?” we give you 10 reasons.
Risk of Leaching Chemicals
PEX is basically a type of plastic material, which may contain certain chemical additives used during the manufacturing process. If you have a PEX water line, these additives can potentially leach into the water flowing through the pipes. The leaching could occur due to many reasons, such as the water temperature, pH levels, or the quality of the PEX material itself.
The specific chemicals that may leach from PEX pipes include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).
VOCs are a group of chemicals that can vaporize into the air and potentially pose health risks when inhaled or ingested.
MTBE is a chemical that was once commonly used as a fuel additive but is now considered an environmental pollutant and health concern.
When water comes into contact with PEX pipes, especially when the water is warm or hot, the chemical leaching process may be more pronounced. This leached water can then be consumed by individuals or used for various purposes like cooking and bathing, raising concerns about potential health effects.
PEX piping is susceptible to damage when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or artificial UV sources. Unlike traditional metal or rigid plastic pipes, PEX does not have natural UV resistance. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause the material to degrade and weaken over time.
When PEX pipes are used outdoors or in areas exposed to direct sunlight they become vulnerable to UV degradation. The UV rays break down the molecular structure of the PEX material, leading to embrittlement, discoloration, and loss of flexibility. This can ultimately result in cracks, leaks, and a shortened lifespan of the pipes.
UV degradation is of particular concern in regions with intense sunlight. The same holds true for applications where PEX pipes are exposed to extended periods of UV exposure. If UV damage occurs, it can compromise the integrity of the plumbing system, leading to costly repairs and potential water leaks.
Water Temperature Limitations
PEX pipes have a maximum temperature threshold. It defines the highest temperature at which they can safely and reliably transport water. Exceeding this temperature limit can lead to various issues that can compromise the integrity and performance of the PEX pipes.
The water temperature limitations of PEX pipes can vary depending on the type of PEX material used (PEX-A, PEX-B, or PEX-C). However, in general, PEX pipes are designed to handle temperatures commonly encountered in residential and commercial water supply systems.
PEX pipes can start to soften and deform at higher temperatures, especially when exposed to temperatures beyond their maximum threshold. This can lead to pipe collapse, kinking, or distortion, reducing the effectiveness of the plumbing system and potentially causing leaks.
Susceptible to Rodent Damage
Since PEX pipes are made of plastic, they are more susceptible to certain pests, especially rodents like rats and mice. These small animals have strong teeth that they use to gnaw on various materials. Unfortunately, PEX pipes are not exempt from their destructive tendencies.
Rats and mice are attracted to sources of water. If they find a leak in a plumbing system, they may chew on the PEX tubing to access the water inside.
PEX pipes, especially those in spaces like attics, basements, or crawl spaces are particularly vulnerable to rodent damage.
Not Suitable for Recycled Water
Recycled water refers to treated wastewater that has undergone certain levels of treatment. This makes it suitable for non-potable uses like irrigation, toilet flushing, and industrial applications.
Reclaimed water is often sourced from rainwater harvesting or treated greywater from showers, sinks, and laundry, which is also intended for non-potable purposes.
PEX pipes, being primarily designed for potable water supply systems, may not be appropriate for transporting recycled water. These pipes may not be resistant to certain chemicals or impurities that can be present in recycled water. Exposure to specific chemicals or contaminants in recycled water can lead to degradation, weakening, or deterioration of the PEX pipes over time.
Potential for Long-term Degradation
PEX pipes are typically designed to be durable and corrosion-resistant. However, many factors could contribute to their gradual degradation over time.
PEX pipes can be sensitive to certain chemicals, which may be present in the water supply or introduced into the plumbing system. Exposure to these chemicals can cause the PEX material to degrade over time, affecting its structural integrity.
Although PEX is generally resistant to corrosion, some types of PEX may not be fully resistant to chlorine.
Chlorine is a common disinfectant used in water treatment. Prolonged exposure can cause PEX pipes to weaken over time.
The quality of the water flowing through the PEX pipes can also impact their long-term performance. High levels of impurities, minerals, or acidity in the water may contribute to material degradation.
Limited Pipe Size Availability
PEX pipes are available in various diameters. However, the size range might not be as extensive as what is commonly found with other materials.
Large-scale commercial or industrial plumbing applications require larger-diameter pipes. PEX may not always be the most suitable option due to the constraints of available sizes. In such cases, other materials like copper or PVC are often preferred for their wider range of pipe dimensions.
In systems that require high water flow rates or precise pressure management, the limited pipe sizes may pose challenges. Selecting the right pipe size is crucial to ensure the system can deliver the required water volume and pressure effectively.
Fitting and Tools
PEX plumbing systems require specialized fittings and tools for proper installation. Fittings play a crucial role in creating secure and watertight connections between PEX pipes. There are different types of PEX fittings available, including crimp, clamp, push-fit, and expansion fittings, each with its unique installation method.
In addition to fittings, specific tools are essential for proper PEX plumbing installation. For instance, crimping tools are used for crimp fittings, while cinch tools are employed for clamp fittings.
While these specialized fittings and tools facilitate the installation process, they can also increase the overall cost of a PEX plumbing project. Also, correct tool usage and proper installation techniques are critical for creating reliable and durable connections. Incorrect or inadequate installation can lead to leaks, pressure loss, and other plumbing issues.
Not Suitable for Some Fire Sprinkler Systems
Fire sprinkler systems are critical for fire protection in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. The choice of plumbing material is essential to ensure their effectiveness and compliance with fire safety regulations.
Some fire sprinkler systems require materials that meet specific fire safety standards, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. These standards often dictate the types of materials that can be used in fire sprinkler systems. Not all PEX materials may meet these requirements.
PEX pipes may be subject to limitations related to temperature and pressure ratings, chemical compatibility, and potential vulnerability to fire hazards. Some fire codes and regulations may specify materials like steel or CPVC for fire sprinkler systems. This is due to their fire-resistant properties and long-term reliability in high-temperature and high-pressure environments.
Professional Installation Required
Professional installation is highly recommended for PEX plumbing systems due to the complexities involved in the process. While PEX plumbing is often touted as DIY-friendly, its successful installation requires a level of expertise that licensed plumbers possess. Professional plumbers have undergone training and have extensive knowledge of PEX materials, fittings, and installation techniques.
Moreover, professional plumbers have the expertise to identify and address potential issues during installation. These include improper sizing, fitting selection, or potential stress points. Their experience allows them to implement appropriate measures to prevent leaks and system malfunctions.
PEX Plumbing or Copper Pipes: What is Better?
The choice between PEX plumbing and copper pipes depends on various factors and specific needs for a particular plumbing project.
PEX pipes allow for easier and quicker installations, especially in complex layouts where bending around obstacles is required. They are also highly resistant to corrosion. Also, PEX pipes have a degree of freeze resistance, reducing the risk of bursting in cold temperatures.
Copper pipes, on the other hand, have a long-standing reputation for reliability and durability. They can last for decades, making them an excellent investment for long-term plumbing solutions.
Copper pipes can withstand high temperatures, making them suitable for hot water applications. They are also not susceptible to UV degradation and can be used outdoors without concerns of sunlight damage.
Now, copper pipes tend to be more expensive than PEX, which can significantly impact the overall cost of a plumbing project. Also, copper is a rigid material, which may require more fittings and labor in complex installations.
PEX Plumbing vs. PVC Pipes – Which is the Better Choice?
PEX plumbing is known for its flexibility, which simplifies installations in tight spaces and reduces the need for numerous fittings. However, PVC pipes are generally more affordable than PEX and offer excellent chemical resistance, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.
Their affordability makes PVC a cost-effective choice for plumbing projects. PVC pipes are also not prone to corrosion and have a long lifespan, making them a durable option for various plumbing systems.
What are Some Alternative Plumbing Materials More Suitable than PEX?
Several alternative plumbing materials may be more suitable than PEX. These include:
- CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride)
- HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
- Stainless Steel
- Galvanized Steel
Contact the PEX Plumbing Specialists at San Diego Plumbing & Pipelining Today!
We hope we have been able to answer your question, “Why is PEX plumbing bad?”
Indeed there are concerns associated with PEX plumbing. However, these issues can be effectively addressed and mitigated by choosing a reputable and experienced plumbing company like San Diego Plumbing and Pipelining.
With San Diego Plumbing and Pipelining, you can put your PEX plumbing worries to rest. Our team of highly-trained professionals uses the latest techniques and materials when installing your PEX plumbing system. This ensures the installation is done with precision and care, meeting the highest industry standards.
So, what are you waiting for? Schedule your appointment today.