PEX vs Copper – The Ultimate Comparison

When purchasing plumbing pipes, copper and PEX are the two primary materials to consider.

The main reasons contractors and homeowners favor copper pipes are their dependability, durability, and resistance to high temperatures.

Conversely, PEX has become increasingly well-liked because of its more adaptable and affordable qualities.

What is PEX Piping?

PEX plumbing systems, with their flexibility, versatility, and durability, are great substitutes for copper pipes in construction projects.

PEX Piping
PEX Piping

What is Copper Piping?

Copper piping is a reddish-brown metal system for plumbing made from copper with a tube-like appearance and resists corrosion.

Copper Piping
Copper Piping

Difference between PEX Plumbing and Copper Plumbing Systems

Let’s start by looking at the advantages of these two plumbing systems:

Copper Piping System Advantages:

  • Durability – they are resistant to high temperatures and pressure
  • Versatility – best for many applications including heating systems, water supply, etc.
  • Corrosion resistance – can handle salty water supply.

Advantages of PEX Piping

  • Flexibility – unlike other plumbing pipes, PEX pipes are flexible and can be bent easily.
  • Affordable installation – Compared to soldering copper, connecting PEX pipes with a crimping tool is simple.
  • Chemical resistance – Copper corrodes and leaks in saline settings, unlike PEX pipes, which do not corrode readily in humid situations.
  • It is lead-free and suitable for both hot and cold water.

Limitations of Copper Pipes and Fittings

  • Expensive – Depending on the job, you may need to spend extra to obtain high-quality materials.
  • Add metal taste to your water – The metallic flavor of copper pipes does not appeal to everyone’s taste.
  • Unable to handle acidic water – Don’t use copper pipes in your house with water from sources that give it a high level of acidity.
Copper Piping and Fittings
Copper Piping and Fittings

Limitations of PEX Piping and Fittings

  • Installing PEX plumbing within your walls is acceptable because you can insulate it regardless of the temperature. Unlike in cold conditions, PEX pipes cannot be covered or protected from freezing temperatures.
  • Water quality – A portion of PEX piping alters the taste and smell of water.

Replace the pipes completely if the taste or smell in your home worsens after installing PEX.

  • Draws in rodents – Mice gnaw on PEX pipes and enter homes through them. If you don’t get rid of them, they harm you.
  • Non-recyclable PEX pipes – When installing a new water line, dispose of large portions of PEX pipe since they are not recyclable, much like most plastics.

Economic Impacts of PEX vs. Copper

· Upfront Material Costs

When it comes to material prices, PEX is more economical than copper. Generally speaking, it costs less per linear foot or meter.

· Costs of Installation

The installation of the PEX pipe requires fewer connections. It is lightweight and flexible, which helps save labor expenses.

As opposed to copper, you need expertise, especially when soldering connections. Due to the amount of expertise needed and the time-consuming nature of soldering, labor expenses might be high.

· Attachments and Complements

Even though PEX fittings and accessories often cost less than their copper equivalents. PEX installations frequently employ compression or crimp fittings.

· Durability and Expense of Replacement

Despite PEX’s relatively long lifespan (around 40–50 years), in some settings and particular conditions like severe temperatures, it will need to be replaced sooner than copper.

Maintenance and Repairs

PEX systems are resistant to scale build-up and corrosion and thus require fewer repairs than copper.

Efficiency of Energy

Because PEX is a better insulator than copper, hot water pipes may lose less heat. In the long term, this may result in decreased energy expenses.

PEX Piping
PEX Piping

Where to Use PEX vs. Copper

PEX Piping

Domestic Plumbing

Home plumbing uses PEX extensively for the delivery of hot and cold water. Because of how simple it is to install, it’s especially well-liked for new construction and home renovations.

Corrosive Water Conditions

PEX may be a better option in locations with harsh water conditions, where copper may be more prone to corrosion.

Systems of Radiant Heating

Radiant floor heating systems frequently employ PEX. Because of its flexibility, installing it in underfloor applications or concrete slabs is simple.

Environments Prone to Freeze

Because PEX has some degree of freeze resistance, it can expand at subfreezing conditions without cracking.

Copper Piping:

Durability Over Time Is Essential

Copper has a reputation for being long-lasting and reliable. For plumbing systems where long-term durability is crucial, it’s a great option.

Uses at High Temperatures

Copper can resist greater temperatures, unlike PEX, making it acceptable in hot water applications.

Business and Industrial Environments

Plumbers need secure, dependable, long-lasting systems, which is why commercial and industrial applications frequently employ copper.

High-Pressure Areas

Because copper is more suitable for high-pressure systems, it is the material of choice in several commercial and industrial contexts.

Areas Exposed to UV Radiation

Copper is unaffected by UV radiation, unlike PEX, which makes it appropriate for outdoor applications without extra protection.

Chemical Compatibility

Generally speaking, copper is more resistant to chemical corrosion than PEX, which makes it appropriate for some specific applications.

Between PEX and Copper; Which one is Durable?

PEX pipe is cheaper than copper and more durable. It is not affected by electrolysis, which can cause small pinhole leaks in the copper pipes because it is immune to mineral build-up and corrosion and thus lasts longer. Copper pipes last from six months to the life of a building.

Conclusion

PEX cannot last as long as its competitor, copper. The average lifespan of PEX is between 30-50 years, as opposed to the 50-70 years for copper.

PEX is not made for use outside the house. When exposed to UV sunlight, the piping materials degrade, making them fragile and liable to deteriorate faster.

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