As many would come to expect, the PEX tubing and copper pipe debate has now emerged as a highly discussed topic among plumbing experts and “do-it-yourself” consumers alike. While some experts consider PEX to be far superior in all aspects to copper, traditionalists believe that copper piping is still the only way to go. However, PEX Tubing has made tremendous strides to put those old fashioned beliefs aside and that is why the influx of PEX tubing in new construction homes have been quite noticeable.
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, it is a challenging task to determine which of the two perspectives is right. In fact, they both seem to have legitimate arguments and what it comes down to is the price-to-performance ratio the two materials share. While other factors are definitely involved when choosing between the two, the bottom line here is the bottom line. How much profit can one make choosing one piping over the other?
It is important to closely examine both technologies and then compare and contrast the two with each other. Fair enough.
Right off the bat, the rising cost of copper has made the alternative look much more attractive. Besides the additional monies spent on the hardware itself, the other factor that has to be considered is the man hours needed to sweat the pipes for fittings. In retrospect, PEX pipe does not require sweating so the use of a torch is not applicable, thus speeding up the installation process. This equivocates to less man hours on the job. Plus once you take the torch and flux out of the equation, job-site safety increases, insurance rates go down and contractor’s wallets get bigger; again, all affecting the bottom line.
One thing that has to be considered is since the two systems have comparable flow rates due to a manifold installed in PEX tubing systems, the additional money spent on the manifold has to be factored into the equation and that is where copper has proven to be less expensive, according to some. However, the manifold is not required to complete a job well done.
Another advantage of PEX tubing versus copper tubing is that PEX pipe makes more of a “serene” plumbing system. The hammering noise one hears when opening and closing valves using copper is virtually eliminated.
PEX is corrosive resistant and will not adhere to freeze damage. The PEX material is lighter, and with resistance to corrosion, it will not affect water quality. PEX plumbing pipe is environmentally friendly and requires less energy to produce. Copper piping will not expand when the water turns to ice and offers no give in such a circumstance. PEX tubing has a bendable quality while copper is rigid and will offer no such flexibility.
As the debate rages on, it seems most new-construction homes are being built with PEX infrastructure. It is becoming more popular for the reasons listed above. The only question is, will copper eventually become obsolete the way asbestos shingles or lead-based paint found their way out of regular use?