When it comes to PEX vs Copper plumbing, homeowners are often faced with the dilemma of choosing between these two popular pipe materials. Comparing the pros and cons of PEX and copper pipes, this post will provide you with valuable insights to help decide which is best for your home’s plumbing system.
Table of Contents
We’ll explore the differences between Type L and Type M copper pipes as well as factors causing failures in copper piping systems. You’ll also learn about CPVC plumbing pipes, including their cold welding process for joining fittings and insulated value.
Moving on to PEX plumbing pipes, we will discuss the distinctions between PEX A & B types along with precautions during storage and handling. Furthermore, water hammer considerations will be addressed by examining its impact on rigid materials like copper compared to how flexible materials like PEX handle water hammer shocks.
Lastly, our comparison extends to installation techniques – highlighting tools & skills required for copper pipe installations versus ease of DIY projects with CPVC pipes and Shark bite connectors used in PEX systems. We will also provide information on longevity & lifespan expectations while considering factors affecting each type of pipe material.
This in-depth analysis aims at guiding you through every aspect of the debate surrounding “PEX vs Copper Plumbing” so that you can choose what works best for your specific needs.
Copper Plumbing Pipes
Copper is a traditional and reliable choice for plumbing systems, known for its durability and longevity. It can last up to 100 years with proper care, but it has some drawbacks such as being prone to pinhole leaks and water hammer issues due to its rigidity. Additionally, copper installation requires specialized tools and skills.
Type L vs Type M Copper Pipes
There are two main types of copper pipes used in residential plumbing: Type L and Type M. Type L has thicker walls than Type M, making it more durable against corrosion from acidic water or other harsh conditions. However, both types have their own advantages depending on the specific application:
- Type L: Ideal for underground installations or areas where higher pressure ratings are required.
- Type M: Suitable for indoor applications like potable water distribution lines.
Factors Causing Failures in Copper Piping Systems
The most common cause of failure in copper piping systems is corrosion from aggressive water chemistry. This can lead to pinhole leaks that may require costly repairs over time if not addressed early on. Other factors affecting the performance of copper pipes include excessive water velocity (which could cause erosion), high levels of dissolved oxygen (leading to oxidation), extreme pH levels (either too acidic or alkaline), microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC) caused by bacteria buildup inside the pipe walls, and improper installation techniques leading to stress fractures or solder joint failures.
In order to prevent these issues from occurring, it is essential to maintain proper water chemistry and follow recommended installation practices. Homeowners should also be aware of the signs of copper pipe failure, such as discolored water or a noticeable drop in water pressure.
Despite their potential drawbacks, copper plumbing systems remain a favored choice for homeowners because of their resilience and capability to tolerate high temperatures without losing structural strength. With proper care and maintenance, copper pipes can provide reliable service for many decades.
Type L and Type M copper piping can be utilized for a range of residential applications, but it is vital to comprehend the distinctions between them in order to ensure proper setup. CPVC plumbing pipes offer another option that can provide insulation value while utilizing a cold welding process for joining fittings.
Copper plumbing pipes are a reliable choice due to their durability and longevity, but they can be prone to pinhole leaks and water hammer issues. Type L copper pipes are ideal for underground installations or areas where higher pressure ratings are required, while Type M is suitable for indoor applications like potable water distribution lines. Proper maintenance and installation practices can prevent common causes of failure in copper piping systems such as corrosion from aggressive water chemistry or excessive water velocity.
CPVC Plumbing Pipes
CPVC pipes, having been around for a while, are impervious to corrosion from water due to their chlorinated polyvinyl chloride composition. They offer an affordable alternative to copper while still providing good durability. With easy installation using only one tool – the tube cutter – CPVC may be suitable for DIY projects or re-piping older homes.
Cold Welding Process of Joining CPVC Fittings
The process of joining CPVC pipes and fittings is called cold welding, which involves applying a solvent cement that softens the surfaces of both parts being joined together. As they dry, the softened surfaces fuse into a single piece, creating a strong bond without heat or flames like traditional soldering methods used in copper installations. This makes it easier for homeowners with limited plumbing experience to tackle their own repairs and upgrades confidently. To learn more about this process, check out this step-by-step guide on how to glue PVC plastic pipe.
Insulated Value of CPVC Pipes
Another advantage of using CPVC pipes is their natural insulation properties due to their low thermal conductivity compared to metal piping systems like copper. CPVC pipes have lower thermal conductivity than copper or galvanized steel, resulting in less heat loss and energy savings when used for hot water lines. Additionally, because these pipes don’t conduct electricity well either – unlike metallic alternatives – there’s less risk involved when working near electrical sources during installation or maintenance tasks.
When considering the use of CPVC pipes for your home’s plumbing system, it is essential to weigh the benefits and drawbacks compared to other materials like copper or PEX. While CPVC offers affordability, easy installation, and natural insulation properties, there are some factors that homeowners should be aware of before making a decision. For example, although CPVC has good chemical resistance against waterborne corrosives found in most residential water supplies (source), it may not be suitable for homes with highly acidic or alkaline water sources without additional treatment measures in place first.
In conclusion, CPVC pipes offer a cost-effective and durable alternative to copper piping. With easy installation and natural insulation properties, they are a great option for homeowners looking to tackle their own plumbing projects. However, it is important to consider the specific needs of your home’s plumbing system and water supply before making a final decision on which pipe material to use.
CPVC plumbing pipes are a great option for homeowners looking to replace their existing piping, as they offer increased insulation value and require no soldering. On the other hand, PEX plumbing pipes provide an even easier installation process with fewer precautions needed during storage and handling.
CPVC pipes are a good alternative to copper plumbing due to their affordability, durability and easy installation process. The joining of CPVC fittings is done through cold welding which does not require heat or flames like traditional soldering methods used in copper installations. Additionally, CPVC pipes have natural insulation properties that result in energy savings over time compared to other materials such as copper or galvanized steel.
PEX Plumbing Pipes
PEX is a newer option that gained popularity after decades of use in Europe before entering the American market. Known for flexibility, ease of installation without many fittings, and resistance against UV exposure degradation when stored properly indoors; this pipe material offers similar lifespan expectations as both copper and CPVC at potentially lower costs. Let’s explore the differences between PEX types and precautions during storage & handling.
Differences between PEX A & B types
There are two main types of PEX pipes: PEX-A, which is more flexible due to its cross-linked molecular structure, and PEX-B, which has a slightly less flexible but still durable composition. The primary difference lies in their manufacturing process – PEX-A uses the Engel method (peroxide), while PEX-B employs the Silane method (moisture cure). Both offer excellent performance, but some homeowners may prefer one type over another based on factors such as budget or specific project requirements.
Bob Vila’s article on PEX-A vs. PEX-B provides an in-depth comparison to help you make an informed decision about which type suits your needs best.
Precautions during storage & handling
- Avoid direct sunlight: While it’s true that modern-day PEX pipes have improved UV resistance compared to earlier versions, prolonged exposure to sunlight can still cause them to degrade over time. Always store your unused pipes indoors or under cover away from direct sun rays.
- Maintain proper temperature range: It is essential not to expose PEX pipes to extreme temperatures, as this can lead to damage or failure. Store the pipes in a cool and dry area, taking care not to subject them to any freezing temperatures during installation.
- Handle with care: Although PEX is known for its flexibility, it’s still essential to handle the material carefully during installation. Avoid kinking or bending the pipe too sharply, which could cause stress points leading to potential leaks over time.
Incorporating these precautions will help ensure your PEX plumbing system remains durable and efficient throughout its expected lifespan of up to 100 years when properly installed and maintained. For more information on handling PEX pipes correctly, check out this comprehensive guide from Family Handyman.
PEX plumbing pipes are a great choice for any homeowner looking to make an upgrade in their home, offering flexibility and durability that copper cannot. When it comes to water hammer considerations, however, the differences between rigid materials like copper and flexible ones such as PEX become even more pronounced.
PEX plumbing pipes are a newer option that offer flexibility, ease of installation and resistance against UV exposure degradation. There are two main types of PEX pipes: PEX-A and PEX-B, both offering excellent performance but with slight differences in their manufacturing process. Precautions during storage and handling include avoiding direct sunlight, maintaining proper temperature range, and handling the material carefully during installation to ensure durability throughout its expected lifespan of up to 100 years when properly installed and maintained.
Water Hammer Considerations
All three plumbing materials – Copper, CPVC, & PEX – require attention towards potential water hammer issues which could lead to damage over time if not addressed properly during initial installations or system upgrades. Water hammer is a phenomenon that occurs when the flow of water in pipes suddenly stops or changes direction, causing pressure waves to travel through the piping system. This can result in loud banging noises and even pipe damage if left unaddressed. By adding shock-absorbing devices like arrestors where needed throughout each respective network setup chosen by homeowners/builders alike, you can mitigate these risks.
Impact on rigid materials like Copper
Copper pipes are known for their rigidity and strength; however, this characteristic also makes them more susceptible to water hammer issues. The sudden change in water flow creates stress on copper joints and fittings due to its lack of flexibility compared to other plumbing materials such as PEX. Over time, this stress may cause pinhole leaks or cracks within the copper piping system leading to costly repairs.
How flexible materials like PEX handle water hammer shocks
In contrast with copper’s rigidity, PEX plumbing systems offer greater flexibility, making them less prone to experiencing problems associated with water hammers. Their ability to expand slightly under pressure helps absorb some of the force generated by sudden changes in water flow velocity without causing significant strain on connections and fittings within your home’s plumbing network.
- Action Step: If you’re considering a new installation or upgrading an existing one, consult with a professional plumber to assess the potential for water hammer issues and discuss appropriate preventative measures.
- Tip: Regularly inspect your plumbing system for signs of damage or wear, such as discolored water, reduced water pressure, or unexplained noises. Early detection can help prevent more extensive problems down the line.
To further protect your home’s plumbing from potential water hammer damage, consider installing devices known as water hammer arrestors. These shock-absorbing mechanisms are designed to cushion the impact of sudden changes in water flow velocity by providing an air-filled chamber that compresses when subjected to increased pressure. This helps dissipate energy generated during a water hammer event and reduces stress on pipes and fittings throughout your plumbing system.
In conclusion, all plumbing systems, regardless of the materials used, are susceptible to water hammer issues. However, by taking appropriate preventative measures such as consulting with a professional plumber and installing water hammer arrestors, you can protect your home’s plumbing system from potential damage and costly repairs.
In conclusion, water hammer considerations should be taken into account when selecting a plumbing system. Installation techniques comparison is the next topic of discussion to explore which materials are best suited for specific types of installations.
Water hammer is a potential issue in all plumbing systems, including copper, CPVC, and PEX. Copper pipes are more susceptible to water hammer damage due to their rigidity compared to the flexibility of PEX pipes. To prevent damage from water hammers, consult with a professional plumber and consider installing shock-absorbing devices like water hammer arrestors throughout your plumbing system.
Installation Techniques Comparison
Comparing installation techniques is essential for selecting the right plumbing system for your home. Copper, CPVC, and PEX all have different methods of installation that can impact the overall cost and ease of the project. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the installation methods for copper, CPVC and PEX piping.
Tools & Skills Required for Copper Pipe Installations
Copper pipe installations require specialized tools and skills due to their rigidity and need for soldering. Some common tools used include tube cutters, torches, flux brushes, solder wire, sandpaper, or emery cloth to clean joints before soldering them together. This process requires experience as improper soldering can lead to leaks or weak connections over time.
Ease of DIY Projects with CPVC Pipes
In contrast to copper pipes, CPVC pipes are easier to work with when it comes to DIY projects or re-piping older homes. They only require one tool – a tube cutter – which makes cutting and joining sections more accessible than copper piping systems. The cold welding method used in joining CPVC fittings involves applying solvent cement on both surfaces being joined; after which they’re pressed together until fully bonded without any additional heat source needed.
Shark Bite Connectors & Other Fittings Used in PEX Systems
- PUSH-TO-CONNECT FITTINGS: PEX plumbing systems offer the advantage of push-to-connect fittings, also known as Shark Bite connectors. These fittings make installation quick and straightforward, requiring no soldering or glue.
- CRIMP FITTINGS: Another popular method for connecting PEX pipes is using crimp rings and a crimp tool. This technique provides a secure connection that can withstand high water pressure without leaks.
- EXPANSION FITTINGS: PEX-A type piping systems use expansion fittings, which require an expansion tool to enlarge the pipe’s diameter before inserting the fitting. Once inserted, the pipe contracts back around the fitting creating a tight seal.
In summary, each plumbing material has its unique installation techniques that impact project costs and ease of execution. Copper requires specialized tools and skills due to soldering requirements while CPVC offers more DIY-friendly options with only one necessary tool – tube cutter – for cutting and joining sections together via a cold welding process. Lastly, PEX systems provide flexibility in terms of various connector types such as push-to-connect (Shark Bite), crimped connections, or even expansion fittings depending on specific needs/preferences within any given home environment.
When choosing a plumbing system, it’s important to understand the installation techniques for each material. Copper requires specialized tools and skills due to soldering requirements while CPVC offers more DIY-friendly options with only one necessary tool – tube cutter – for cutting and joining sections together via a cold welding process. PEX systems provide flexibility in terms of various connector types such as push-to-connect (Shark Bite), crimped connections, or even expansion fittings depending on specific needs/preferences within any given home environment.
Longevity & Lifespan Expectations
When it comes to the longevity and lifespan of your home’s plumbing system, all three materials – copper, CPVC, and PEX – have similar expected lifespans ranging from 75 to 100 years when properly installed and maintained. However, there are certain external factors that can influence their performance and longevity. In this part, we’ll consider the elements that can influence their performance with time for each material type so you can make an educated choice about which plumbing system is best for your house.
Factors Affecting Lifespan of Copper Pipes
Copper pipes are known for their durability but may be prone to pinhole leaks, especially in areas with aggressive water conditions or high levels of chlorine. To prevent such issues and ensure long-lasting performance from copper piping systems:
- Regularly check for signs of corrosion or pinhole leaks.
- Maintain proper water pressure within recommended limits.
- Consider installing a whole-house water filter to reduce contaminants that may cause corrosion.
Chemical Resistance Benefits of CPVC Piping Systems
CPVC pipes offer excellent chemical resistance, making them less susceptible to damage caused by chemicals present in tap water. They also resist scaling buildup inside the pipe walls which helps maintain optimal flow rates throughout their lifespan. To maximize the benefits offered by CPVC piping systems:
- Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight as UV radiation can degrade the material over time.
- Frequently inspect joints and connections for any signs of leaks or damage.
Precautions Needed to Ensure Long-lasting Performance from PEX
PEX pipes are flexible and resistant to most water conditions, but they can be sensitive to UV exposure degradation. To ensure long-lasting performance from your PEX plumbing system:
- Store PEX pipes indoors before installation and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight during the installation process.
- Maintain proper water pressure within recommended limits as excessive pressure may cause fittings or connections to fail over time.
- Regularly inspect your plumbing system for any signs of wear or damage, especially at connection points where leaks might occur.
Taking these factors into consideration will help you make an informed decision on which material is best suited for your home’s plumbing needs. Remember that regular maintenance and inspections are crucial in ensuring the longevity and optimal performance of any plumbing system, regardless of the material used.
Copper, CPVC, and PEX have similar expected lifespans ranging from 75 to 100 years when properly installed and maintained. Copper pipes are durable but may be prone to pinhole leaks, while CPVC offers excellent chemical resistance benefits. PEX is flexible and resistant to most water conditions but can be sensitive to UV exposure degradation.
FAQs in Relation to Pex vs Copper Plumbing
Do Plumbers Prefer PEX or Copper?
Plumbers’ preferences vary based on factors such as project requirements, budget, and ease of installation. While PEX is known for its flexibility, lower cost, and quicker installation process, copper has a longer history of use in plumbing systems and offers durability. Ultimately, the choice depends on individual circumstances.
Should You Replace Copper Pipes with PEX?
Replacing copper pipes with PEX may be beneficial if your existing system experiences frequent leaks or corrosion issues. However, it’s essential to consider factors like pipe age and water quality before making a decision. Consult with a professional plumber to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.
Why Did Plumbers Stop Using Copper Tubing?
While many plumbers still use copper tubing in certain situations, the rise in popularity of alternatives like PEX piping can be attributed to their lower costs, easier installation processes, and resistance to corrosion. Additionally, some areas have experienced thefts due to the value of scrap metal from copper pipes.
What Are the Disadvantages of Using PEX?
- Limited UV resistance: Direct sunlight exposure can damage PEX over time.
- Potential chemical leaching: Some studies suggest that chemicals used during manufacturing could potentially leach into drinking water supplies.
- Lower heat resistance: PEX is not suitable for high-temperature applications, unlike copper pipes.
Overall, homeowners have several options when it comes to choosing plumbing materials for their water supply lines. Copper pipes are a traditional choice that offer durability and longevity, but may require professional installation and can be susceptible to failures due to factors such as corrosion. On the other hand, PEX tubing offers flexibility and resistance to water hammer shocks, making it a popular choice for modern plumbing systems.
When considering PEX vs Copper Plumbing, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each material based on your specific needs. Factors such as budget, DIY capabilities, water quality, and potential for future renovations should all be taken into account before making a decision. Professional plumbers can provide expert advice on which material would work best for your home’s plumbing system.
If you’re looking to install PEX pipes or copper piping, it’s important to hire a professional plumber to ensure proper installation and avoid potential issues with your water supply. Both PEX piping and copper systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and a professional plumber can help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs.
At PROPLUM (The Sarasota Plumber), we offer a range of plumbing services, including installation and repair of water supply lines. Our team of experienced plumbers can help you choose the right pipe materials for your plumbing system and ensure that your water supply is running smoothly. Contact us today to learn more!