PEX is a tubing system meant as a replacement for some traditional plumbing methods. PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene tubing. In the past, plumbers have been introduced to plastic piping systems only to have them not live up to the promises of the manufacturers, costing the plumbers money. As of 2010, many plumbers are still wary of using plastic piping, and avoid PEX in favor of traditional metal pipes.
Under standard room temperature conditions, thick metal piping can withstand enormous amounts of pressure before bursting. The problem occurs in areas where the ambient air falls below the freezing point of water. The water freezes and the resulting ice expands. This expanding ice exerts tremendous force upon the inside walls of the pipe and causes metal pipes to burst. PEX tubing can stretch quite a bit without losing it's ability to conduct water or needing to be replaced. After a freezing incident, PEX piping rarely needs any repair. The same goes for stretching in the horizontal dimension. Where metal pipes break, PEX simply elongates quick a bit before breaking.
Ease of Installation
PEX piping is flexible. It can be bent around corners without needing the types of fittings that metal piping would. This reduces the cost of installation by reducing the amount of materials involved. The installing plumbers can also have the job done in a shorter period of time, resulting in a lower charge for labor. Additionally, PEX comes in two different colors for home water systems: red and blue. This makes it easy to distinguish between hot and cold running pipes.
The ability of PEX to stretch allows it to keep water leaks from occurring and damaging your home. Most PEX systems are installed with one main line running to a manifold that has additional pipes leading to the different outlets of the house. The manifold works much like a circuit breaker panel in that you can shut off each individual pipe without disturbing the water flow for the entire house. Additionally, if there is a leak and you don't know where it's coming from, you can simply shut off the water to the whole home, and try each line one by one until you know where the problem is.
- Plastic Pie and Fittings Association: PEX FAQ
- "Black & Decker Complete Guide to Plumbing: Expanded 4th Edition - Modern Materials and Current Codes"; Editors of creative Publishing; 2005
- "The Complete Guide to Home Plumbing"; Andrew Karre; 2005
- Photo Credit plumbing image by Inger Anne HulbÃ¦kdal from Fotolia.com
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