There is no clear or consistent victor between copper and PEX piping. Neither is perfectly suited for every home. As with any hardware, there are benefits and drawbacks associated with each. A variety of factors must be considered for you to determine which would better serve your needs. Depending on the region in which you live, your pipes will encounter a unique combination of weather conditions, water chemistry, and soil content. This guide will help you determine which type of piping pairs best with your locale.
As a strong yet flexible metal, copper pipes exhibit many benefits:
- Installation is typically fast because it is so common.
- Copper is naturally bacteriostatic. This simply means that it deters bacteria growth.
- It is unlikely to corrode or rust despite contact with natural conditions.
- Chemicals like fluorine or chlorine will not react with it.
- Copper pipes can essentially be lined with beneficial minerals from your healthy water supply to provide excellent-quality water.
- Copper can be recycled.
Still, there are some big drawbacks associated with copper:
- It lacks tensile strength, which means it has the potential to burst if your water starts to freeze inside the pipes.
- Water that is particularly acidic can eventually corrode your pipes, which can lead to major concerns:
1. Dangerous copper ions can enter the water supply and possibly make your family sick.
2. The same copper ions can also damage marine life when they leak into nearby bodies of water. Studies show that copper ions can affect aquatic animals in much the same way that mercury affects humans.
3. As the copper corrodes, the walls of the pipes weaken. This lends to their tendency to break and reduces their lifespan to about thirty years.
- Irresponsible copper mining practices can destroy the environment.
- The price of copper has risen drastically and is continues to be unstable.
- It is difficult to fit efficient manifold systems to copper piping.
- Water with a high mineral content can lead to clogs in the line and reduce water flow.
- They generally inefficient and lead to water waste.
- Copper pipes are known to ‘hammer’. This means that you could suddenly be left without water.
- These pipes are good conductors of heat. This makes them extremely vulnerable to heat loss.
PEX is a type of piping that is made of polyethylene that features cross-links. Polyethylene is an incredibly dense plastic. Due to its durability, PEX is often used for radiant heating as well as water piping. It is better than copper in many ways:
- PEX costs significantly less.
- This type of piping is more environmentally friendly and boasts a reduced carbon footprint.
- PEX will not be corroded by acidic substances.
- It is not prone to develop built up mineral deposits.
- The water flows more smoothly, which leads to better performance as well as less waste.
- PEX is resistant to breakage whether due to mechanical injury or natural wear.
- This type of pipe works perfectly with water-efficient manifold systems.
- There is no danger of sudden loss of water, or ‘hammering’.
- It is not a good heat conductor. The heat used to increase the temperature of your water will remain inside.
There are also a number of drawbacks to PEX piping:
- PEX has a tendency to breakdown when it makes contact with UV rays.
- It cannot be recycled.
- When PEX makes contact with chlorine, it can generate small amounts of harmful chemicals.
- It is less common and can, therefore, be more expensive to have installed.
You will have to consider the terrain and weather patterns of your surroundings in order to choose the best type of piping for your home. It is also a good idea to evaluate your water. If the pH of your tap water is less than 6.5, then you should avoid using copper pipes at all costs. The only other clear-cut way to decide is to explore the way in which you plan to utilize the water in your house.