If you’ve spent any time on our site you know we love PEX piping. It’s a damn good tool for our job and makes things like repiping houses in two days possible! But it isn’t the only pipe and it’s not the best pipe for every job. This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re looking PEX vs copper pipes, a duel for the ages!
PEX vs Copper
Copper pipes have been used for decades but so has PEX, and in that time they have both shown their advantages and disadvantages for plumbers and homeowners everywhere. Let’s lay it out.
PEX Pros and Cons
PEX is a flexible pipe so it requires fewer connectors and joint pieces to make turns and get the water where it needs to go. Makes installing it a breeze!
PEX as a material is just flat out cheaper than copper. It’s also lighter and easier to ship and handle so all those costs that might be incurred in the production and shipping don’t get passed on to the consumer.
Central Shut Off
PEX allows for a central shut off for all the water fixtures and features in your house. The ‘manifold’ connects all of the hot and cold water and can be labeled for ease of use. Think of it like a breaker box for your water!
Safer to Install
Unlike copper piping, PEX doesn’t need a torch on hand for installation, eliminating a potential fire hazard just like that!
Because it’s so flexible and cheap, it’s a great material to work with for DIY-ers.
Shorter Life Expectancy
While it’s not certain, PEX is expected to have a lifespan of about 50 years. It’s been in use since the 60s in England and we’re only now reaching the years where we’re expecting the pipes to fully fail. This con is easily avoided however, as PEX is so cheap and easy to work with, replacing it out is no trouble at all.
Copper Pros and Cons
Copper is long-lasting, no doubt about it. It is a rigid metal pipe and under ideal conditions will last up to 70 years.
The cost of copper has risen substantially lately, partly due to its increased ability to be recycled. With more copper being recycled, more products using it are made (demand), and with it cost. On average, installing copper pipes will run you about 60% (closer to 63% if you want to be really precise) more expensive than PEX.
Copper pipes are sturdy, but that rigidness comes with a cost. To properly fit a house with copper pipes requires plenty of precise cuts, connections, and joints to make it work. That means some serious labor.
Because copper has been used for so long, it is a ‘known’ entity. We understand how it works, how it interacts with the soil, etc. so even the difficulties are understood. For some plumbers that tried and true history is good enough for them and they prefer it.
Here’s the thing. As we said, there’s no one ‘right’ tool for every job. That’s why Economy Plumbing Services LLC uses both PEX and copper piping. PEX when it makes sense to run through walls and in the home, and copper for exterior work where we need rigid, durable piping. A combined system gives you the best of both worlds, and when it’s done by the experts here at EPS, there’s no downside!
Need help getting your plumbing working right? Repiping a house, or want to run water to a new refrigerator with the fancy water filter in the door? You give us a call and we’ll get it done right!