What Is PEX Plumbing?

Jul 22, 2022 | Plumbing

PEX plumbing has become a popular choice for homeowners in recent years. But what is PEX, and what are the benefits of using it? This blog post will answer all your questions about PEX plumbing, so you can decide if it’s the right choice for your home.

What Is PEX?

PEX (Cross-linked Polyethylene Pipe) is a type of plastic tubing that is used for both commercial and residential plumbing. It is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is a strong, durable material. PEX is available in a variety of sizes and lengths, so it can be used for various applications.

History Of PEX

In the 1960s, German scientist Thomas Engle discovered a method to crosslink common plastic (polyethylene) with radiation to create a more pliable form of the substance. This new creation, called Flexible PEX tubing, arrived in the United States during the 1980s. It was used initially for radiant floor heating systems.

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Pex plumbing

How? Well, back then, a flexible PEX tube was embedded in a slab, and hot water was pumped through it to heat the slab and radiate heat throughout the room. This method of radiant floor heating is still common today.

PEX has been used in plumbing systems throughout Europe since the 1970s, but it was a latecomer to the United States because some early versions deteriorated slightly when exposed to high chlorine levels present in US water sources. Also, when the fittings used to connect PEX pipes failed and leaked, residents began complaining about early PEX water systems.

These problems were alleviated with improved PEX fittings, which boosted the use of the material. PEX is now suitable for transporting drinking water, and since we’ve maintained our drinking water standards over the last two decades, over 60 percent of all new water supply lines employ PEX.

Installing PEX Tubing

PEX tubing installation

PEX tubing is flexible, so it’s easy to install. It can be snaked through existing walls and floors, which means you don’t have to tear out your old plumbing to install it. PEX can also be installed in long runs without any fittings, so there are fewer places for leaks to occur.

PEX is available in a variety of sizes, so it can be used for different applications. The most common size is 3/8 inch, but 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch sizes are also available. PEX is also available in different lengths, so it can be cut to fit your needs.

If you’re doing a do-it-yourself installation, you’ll need a few tools, including a tape measure, a PEX cutter, and a PEX expansion tool. You’ll also need to rent or purchase a PEX expansion machine. The expansion machine is used to expand the end of the PEX tubing so that it can fit over the fitting.

PEX Connections

PEX connections are made using copper crimp rings or cinch clamps. With the crimp ring method, you place the ring over the end of the tubing, insert the fitting, and then crimp the ring with a special tool to make a secure connection. The cinch clamp method is similar, but you use a clamp instead of a ring. Both methods require a special cinch clamp tool to make the connection.

PEX Particulars

Below, we explain what different colors of PEX pipe indicate:

  • Blue PEX pipe: carries cold water.
  • Red PEX pipe: carries hot water.
  • Gray PEX pipe: can be used for either hot and cold water.
  • White PEX pipe: can also be used for either hot or cold water.

5 Benefits Of PEX Piping

PEX Piping

There are many benefits of using PEX plumbing. Here are some of the most notable ones:

1. Flexibility

Copper and galvanized steel piping are made up of a main line and a series of branch lines leading to each fixture. Each branch that connects to the main line must be separately attached. PEX offers distinct benefits over these materials because of its flexibility.

This means that a single PEX line can be run from the main line to each fixture without the need for additional connections.

2. Resistance To Freeze Damage

PEX is also resistant to freeze damage. When water inside galvanized steel or copper pipes freezes, it expands and can cause the pipe to burst. This can lead to significant flooding and damage to your home.

PEX is less likely to burst when the water inside it freezes because it is able to expand slightly as the water freezes. This allows for a small amount of expansion without putting too much pressure on the pipe and causing it to burst.

3. Toughness And Longevity

PEX tubing in a home

PEX is also a tough material that can withstand a great deal of wear and tear. It is not susceptible to the same kinds of corrosion that can affect copper and galvanized steel.

PEX can also last a long time. With proper installation and maintenance, it can easily last for decades without needing to be replaced.

4. Easy Installation

PEX is also easier to install than copper or galvanized steel. It is a flexible material that can be snaked through existing walls and floors without the need to tear them out.

This flexibility also allows for longer runs of PEX without the need for fittings. This reduces the overall number of potential leak points in your system as well as the amount of time and labor required for installation.

5. Improved Water Quality

PEX can also improve the quality of your water. Copper and galvanized steel can leach metals into your water, which can give it an unpleasant taste and smell.

PEX does not leach any metals into your water, so it will taste and smell fresh and clean. In addition, PEX will not corrode over time the way copper and galvanized steel can. This means that your water will stay clean and fresh-tasting for many years to come.

Final Thoughts

PEX Piping

PEX is quickly becoming the preferred material for plumbing in both new construction and remodeling projects. It is flexible, durable, easy to install, and provides many other benefits. If you are considering new plumbing for your home, be sure to ask your plumber about PEX.

Need A Plumber In Baltimore, MD?

If you’re in need of a licensed and experienced plumber in Baltimore, MD, contact us today. Our team of skilled professionals is available 24/7 to help you with all your plumbing needs. Give us a call at 410-255-9300 or schedule a consultation.


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