Not so very long ago, homes were built with plumbing made of cast iron and galvanized steel. More recently, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) tubing replaced galvanized steel and cast iron. However, the most common plumbing material for new homes is PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipe or PEX tubing.

What Makes PEX Pipe Different?

PEX pipe is sold in large rolls, most often red (for hot water) or blue (for cold water). PEX pipe is also available in white and gray rolls suitable for both hot and cold water. PEX pipe is much more flexible than PVC and requires fewer elbows and other joints. Fewer joints and connections mean that there are fewer opportunities for leaks.

Houses plumbed entirely with PEX pipe most often use PEX manifolds that direct water flow from the manifold to each individual faucet and fixture. PEX pipe does use a unique system to make connections. The most common system uses copper crimping rings which must be installed with a unique crimping tool.

What are the Advantages of PEX Pipe?
  • PEX pipe is highly flexible compared to both steel and PVC.
  • PEX requires fewer connections, and permits the integration of PEX manifolds.
  • PEX is more resistant to freezing than PVC
  • PEX will never corrode like galvanized steel and cast iron.

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What Are the Disadvantages of PEX Pipe?
  • PEX pipe is not resistant to UV rays and cannot be used for outdoor applications exposed to sunlight.
  • PEX pipe cannot be recycled, even though most other plastics can be recycled.
  • PEX pipe requires special crimping tools for installation and repair.
The Bottom Line

Despite its disadvantages, PEX pipe is an excellent choice for your home’s plumbing, especially if you are building a new home or if your home already has PEX plumbing. If you are considering replacing your entire home’s plumbing, PEX is also a great choice. If you only need to make minor plumbing repairs, it is probably best to replace your current plumbing material with the same material instead of trying to integrate PEX in line with something different.

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