If you suffer a water line leak in your home and you find you will have to re-pipe, you will be faced with two options: Copper or PEX (or polyethylene).
Here’s some information that will help you decide:
The traditional method of piping uses copper. Copper requires a professional with expertise and knowledge to install it and secure copper piping properly, as it requires sweating (soldering) pipes and fittings together.
Copper is a natural substance that prohibits growth of bacteria and some other substances. It’s best for using outdoors, as it is not affected by ultraviolet rays and resists corrosion unless you live where pH levels are low.
The downside? Expense. Copper is considered a precious metal and is about three times the cost of PEX tubing. Cold weather could cause the pipes to freeze & burst.
It used to be that PEX was only used for radiant floor heating, but someone cleverly realized that PEX was much more durable and began using it for re-piping waterlines and plumbing repairs. It has been around since about 1980 and it did not take long for PEX to become the darling of the plumbing world.
The upside of PEX: the cost is substantially less than copper; it’s got flexibility, unlike copper. A big advantage is its resistance to scale and chlorine. Installation goes much quicker, as it requires fewer connections and fittings. And energy efficient: PEX holds the heated water much better than copper. The downside: PEX is not designed to be used for outside piping, although it is somewhat freeze resistant & will not burst as quickly.
The use of PEX piping is identified by colors: Hot water piping should be red, blue for cold and white is for any water piping.
Installing PEX requires only a few cinching or clamping tools as opposed to sweating copper, which can be toxic.
We hope this information is helpful to you, should you need to replace your water pipes.