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Pex vs copper pipe
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posted
I am going to build a new home and need to know the pros and cons of pex vs copper. The new house has well water (acid), 2 1/2 baths and is 50 feet wide--kitchen and 1/2 bath on one side of the house and 2 baths on the other. I live 30 minutes north of New Orleans, so long lasting freezing tempertures isn't a big concern. Also why can't pex be put in the slab and is it really cheaper to use pex in the long run? I don't like the idea of water pipes in the attic. Thank you
 
Posts: 19 | Registered: 23 May 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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PEX is far better than copper in most cases, especially if you have water issues. PEX will last a lot longer than copper and its much easier to run and to add new fixtures in the future. The only real downfall to PEX is that it doesn't like to run in a straight line so you need extra clips if looks are important. Since PEX won't break down like copper you won't have to worry about fixing leaks down the road.

I don't know why PEX isn't allowed to be in cement. I haven't seen a problem with it yet. Copper on the other hand shouldn't go through cement without a sleeve around it so the cememen and copper don't touch.


Adam
http://www.bragdoninsulation.com/
 
Posts: 171 | Location: New Hampshire | Registered: 28 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have to say neither to pex or copper. Cost effectiveness you should go with CPVC water pipe. It is a one step solvent weld joint like regular waste and vent PVC. And you can have it poured under a slab as long as you insulate with armorflex (foam insulation) and just bury it as you would the regular underground waste pipes. if you need more ifno from the manufacturer look up Charlotte Pipe Company and the product line is call Flowguard Gold. In my opinion Pex just looks sloppy and it has to be installed in a homerun method just like wiring an electrical panel. So that the manufacturer will make more money. And then they will warranty the product. And copper is way to expensive unless you purchase it in a massive amount of bulk. And the supply house can give you that much of a deal.

Kevin
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 05 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've been using PEX along with the Vanguard manifold system in my homes for years. It is a proven system that has many advantages over copper and I've only seen CPVC used in tract homes in my area. PEX, when used with a manifold system, is a single, continuous run from the manifold to each side of each fixture in the home. Installed properly, the only fittings are at the manifold and the fixture. This means you get hot water much quicker compared to a branch system. It also eliminates the flush effect in the shower, providing that the water pressure at the manifold is adequate. I don't have any experience with running it in concrete as in my area, everything is built on a basement or crawl space. We run it between floors. If water does happen to freeze in PEX it will not generally rupture because it will expand. I've had one experience with that and the PEX was a lifesaver. Hope this helps.


www.HudnallHomes.com
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Colorado Springs | Registered: 05 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by KAnderson:
In my opinion Pex just looks sloppy and it has to be installed in a homerun method just like wiring an electrical panel. So that the manufacturer will make more money. And then they will warranty the product. And copper is way to expensive unless you purchase it in a massive amount of bulk.


You don't need to have homeruns with PEX but its nice if you do. You can run PEX with branches with no problem. Having PEX homeran is a great idea tho so you can isolate any problem fixtures fast and easy without having to turn all the water off. PEX does look sloppy if it isn't supported right on ceiling joist. But most of it will be in a wall or hidden so it doesn't matter anyway. Fixing PEX is very easy. You can have water flowing and you can still crimp the pipe(as long as its not full pressure anyway and there is a place for the water to go while crimping). PEX can freeze and crack but it doesn't seem to happen very often(I've only seen it once).

And copper is expensive regardless of what discount you can get.


Adam
http://www.bragdoninsulation.com/
 
Posts: 171 | Location: New Hampshire | Registered: 28 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Posted 24 May 2007 09:51 AM
I am going to build a new home and need to know the pros and cons of pex vs copper. The new house has well water (acid), 2 1/2 baths and is 50 feet wide--kitchen and 1/2 bath on one side of the house and 2 baths on the other. I live 30 minutes north of New Orleans, so long lasting freezing tempertures isn't a big concern. Also why can't pex be put in the slab and is it really cheaper to use pex in the long run? I don't like the idea of water pipes in the attic. Thank you


I always try to avoid placing water supplys in a floor slab (unless it is sleeved).
The first architect I worked for (who was a contractor before he was an architect) had to jack hammer his living room floor to fix a water leak buried in the concrete slab. Most people wouldn't imagine that the supply pipe tries to move back and forth when water presure is turned on and off and over a period of time a whole can be worn in any pipe.

A water leak in the ceiling may sound bad but at least it can be found to be repaired as opposed to repairing one in the slab.

As for the type of pipe.......probably the pvc types.

jwd in nc
 
Posts: 16 | Registered: 11 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The fact that your water is acidic suggests that you avoid copper, since acidic water aggressively attacks copper, especially at the fittings, and especially if the fittings are of cast brass. If the well water is treated to bring it to a neutral pH, before it goes through the pipe network in your house, and if any iron, sulphur, or other contaminants are filtered out at the point of entry, then it would no longer have an effect on the pipe network, whether copper, PEX, CPVC, or whatever else your particular Code Body approves for your location.
I am not certified for PEX, so I cannot comment on whether or not it would be superior to any other plastic pipe system. I do think that the "home run" method has the obvious advantage of being able to quickly isolate a fixture which may develop problems down the road.
I think that it is worth noting that well pipes are never made of copper, but that homes with regulated municipal water supplies almost always have copper piping in them.

Before selecting any pipe material for your house, it is also worth noting that the codes generally require internal piping to be electrically grounded, at least the metallic type, so this is also an issue that will influence your final choice of materials and methods. Again, your local Code Body should be able and willing to help you make the correct choice(s).
 
Posts: 105 | Location: West Haven, Conn. | Registered: 15 November 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have copper, cpvc, and pex pipe in my house. I wanted cpvc because it was cheaper then copper but my plumber ripped me off by telling me all the little peices made the price the same. Plus he didn't have any workable knowlege of installing it and bended the pipe every which way. Later when we tryed to use the water the pipes would knock and rub against the joists causing awful noise. We called various plumbers but they were all dumbfounded and to expensive, plus they only wanted to work with copper. We gave in to one guy and let him install the copper pipe in areas to be fixed. Two years later we found out we had bad well water and needed to treat our water. The dept. of enviromental protection said that the treated water would eat away the copper pipe and cause health concerns. Broke and sick from bad contractors and bad well water, we walked in to Lowe's, bought some Pex pipe and fixed everything ourselves with no prior knowledge of how to install it. I will tell you this, it is the only thing we have not had any problems with, its easy to make adjustments, and its safe. So my answer to your question would be Pex pipe. Its not pretty but I'd rather have it right then be pretty behind a wall where no one will see it. Plus you can use the left over peices to make a cool water feature in your yard or an outdoor waterline for your garden as we did.


Dawn Risley
 
Posts: 3 | Location: Northeast Pa. | Registered: 25 March 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My husband uses Wersbo which is like pex i think it might just be a brand name not really sure... but I can tell you that in the experience of him putting that in compared to putting in copper pipe, it is faster, you hear less cursing from your husband and also they did a study where they heated it up and cooled it off over and over and over and so forth and it never lost its strength. It was still bendible never cracked. So yes pex would be better to use and it is used very often for infloor heating, and I have yet to hear anyone having to rip up the floor to fix it. About the only way that stuff will leak is to cut it in half!! Hope this helps a little.
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 07 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have a PEX system in a 50's renovated house, but am no expert. We are happy with it after 18 months, but caution regarding installation in hot climates - INSULATE the tubes/pipes with something. Ours are not here in Sacramento and it runs up through the attic and acts as solar water heater during 100' summer heat. Wrap the bundles (one line for each fixture) in bubble wrap insulation (REFLEXTIX I think) or something and tape as you run and install. I am going to have to try to do it after the fact - a big pain.
Also, ours were tacked up with occassional metal wrap strapping, and someone told me those wear on the tubing as it slightly expands/contracts and moves. Should have been ziptied or something that won't abrade it. Also, around bends, the wrap will help, but be sure to secure it, as bends flex with the pressure change when turned off/on and can bang on a 2x4 or joist near a toilet (we have only one that does this on occassion).
The positive is that only about 10-20 seconds or running the water is needed to get to water coming from the manifold due to the small diamater tubes - so cools off then. Also same in winter - hot is cooled by running uninsulated, but heats up relatively fast since not huge copper pipe or large pvc main line being drained in cold winter saving on water heating bill too. In CA we try to save as much water as possible, so it matters here.
Another plus- you don't get pressure drops like when someone flushes toilet, a nice plus.
Do have them put on valves/turnstops in the lines at the end fixtures just in case you need to do some maintenance on toilets/faucets. Having several gallons of water drain out the line back to the manifold is lame (that is where the shutoff is otherwise).They are worth a couple bucks.
Aside from material costs, it saves on labor - big cost - in install. You will need to ask around for sub who works with it, not everyone does around here. Tools costs some money they say.
I would use again in future build or remodel, but only use someone experienced in it.
good luck.
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Sacramento CA | Registered: 07 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yes, there is a PEX called Wirsbo. Its a bit different that normal crimp PEX but its able to handle freezing better. The Wirsbo PEX has a plastic ring you slip over the pipe then you insert a streching tool into it and strech it out. It then slides over a Wirsbo fitting, which is different than a PEX crimp fitting.


Adam
http://www.bragdoninsulation.com/
 
Posts: 171 | Location: New Hampshire | Registered: 28 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well there's a definite concensus that PEX has many advantages... As Adam said, you "can" run a branch system with PEX, but I wouldn't do it unless it is a very small home with the bathrooms close to the water heater or saving the added cost is worth the trade-off for you. My favorite thing about the PEX/manifold system is that hot water gets to the fixtures so much faster than it does with a branch system. My plumbers have gotten to the point after using it for many years that they would charge a premium to install copper - aside from the added cost of materials. And they turned down work with a local builder that builds several hundred homes a year here because the builder insisted on using CPVC. So, that should tell you something about that product. It works, it's cheap, but it doesn't compare to PEX.


www.HudnallHomes.com
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Colorado Springs | Registered: 05 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi,
I am currently bidding and looking at options on a new house for myself, I am not sure if I should get pex. I know that the bids with pex are cheaper here, but I am wondering if it is going to last as long as copper. What was that stuff that lasted like 8 years, and then started breaking in the walls. It wasn't pvc, but like it.
 
Posts: 2 | Registered: 07 January 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Pex is a very good product and will be here to stay. Copper is way to exensive to use and depending on where your located may be stolen out of the house before you get the walls up because of copper scrap costs.
The gray plastic pipe your thinking about is CPVC. It uses special glues and primer not like PVC. It no longer is used and I belive its part of a product recall or class action suite. It was not the plastic that caused the issues it was the fastening methods that failed.

Pex because of cost is much better. You can run home runs from each bath, kitchen, laundry etc. With valves in basement area to control each. It goes up fast and because its plastic does not fill with corrosion like metal pipes do.

There are a host of new fittings to connect this stuff, some which do not require any tools. Simply push onto the pipe and your done!
 
Posts: 1933 | Location: New Jersey | Registered: 31 January 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As so many have posted about PEX being better (I'm no exception), but be aware, that unlike copper, there are significient differences between manufacturers of PEX. Molded from the same material of course, but the differences lie in the internal diameter.

Coming off the failed PB piping, a few manufacturers decided to continue to use the same crimping tools that they used with PB.

That would allow them to continue sellling PEX to their installers without having to retool; saving the installers a bunch of bucks over bying new crimping tools. And therein lies the fat (if you will).

(Some manufacturers actually retooled and made their PEX to FULL size ID when changing from PB to PEX.)

PEX has a thicker wall than PB and by using the old PB tooling, those manufacturers had to reduce the ID of their piping and fittings to make it work.

In some cases, it's only 1/2 the nominal size. (QUEST)

As the cost is the same, all you will notice is reduced water pressure at the fixture.

So before running out and thinking all PEX is the same, - it's not, measure the ID of the piping AND FITTNGS of the brand you are considering and then check another brand. It's in the INSERT fittings where real problem lies.
 
Posts: 2 | Registered: 08 January 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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any comments to the health of pex pipes. i was reading on the california state pipe trades council that there are concerns as to the leaching of carcinogens from the pex pipe into the water.
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 27 March 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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PEX is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It is not affected by chemicals in the water and is much more cost effective than copper. The PEX can be run in the ground under the concrete slab but I would put a sleve where it passes thru the concrete. Check with local codes. I run PEX thru a manifold on the cold side but not on the hot since all my installations incorporate circulating hot wter to save on water consumption. This gives you instant hot water at each location. Also stay out of the attic because in hot climates you will never get cold water in summer. Secure the PEX with the plastic clamps supplied by the manufacture. PEX will give you years of trouble free service. Enjoy!
 
Posts: 1 | Location: SoCal | Registered: 18 November 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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PEX is relatively new. It is the best in the plastics catagory. CPVC is subject to breakage, PB is out of use. Any pipes buried in cement are a problem when leaking. In cold climates -place plumbing on interior walls.Copper is TIME TESTED, it has a natural anti bactreial property, plastic interior walls can become slimy, if contaminated- bacteria can remain in the pipe if not properly treated. You can bond your electrical system to it (copper) for increased safety. Yes a low PH will cause the solder to be pulled from the joints. For my money copper is time tested!
 
Posts: 1 | Location: NYS | Registered: 18 November 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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