Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>Pex or Copper for re pipe
14 posts / 0 new
Last post
MClark111
Pex or Copper for re pipe

I have had two pin hole leaks in my copper pipes in the last month. The house was built in 1989, is Pex a better option for re pipping than copper? It seems to me it would be easier to install, I live in California

benla
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe

Pex is cheaper and and can probably be done without hiring a plumber.

johnjh2o
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe

Do you have a basement or is your home on a slab? In either case I would use pex. If your on a slab and your going to be running the new lines through the attic space be sure to insulate the lines. (both hot and cold) Keep in mind that pex can not be exposed to UV light. Pex will be much easier to install. Also keep in mind that pex has a smaller inside diameter then copper so don't put two fixtures on 1/2". Run 3/4" mains with 1/2" branches to each fixture.

John

dj1
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe

Pex has been approved for use in california about 2 years ago, yet it hasn't gained wide popularity. Why?

- In earthquakes and other natural disasters, copper will resist snapping better than pex.
- copper can be used outside, pex can't.
- water in copper can't be contaminated as easily as in pex.
- copper will deliver water at high pressure better than pex.

But pex has a few advantages over copper:

- it's cheaper, even if you have to use a lot more tubes.
- requires less fittings and connectors.
- easier to install by DIY.
- the big catch: the high price of the crimper, the special tool needed to make connections.

The choice is yours. I would choose copper.

MClark111
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe

Thank you for the responses, I guess I'll have to think about it. I don't have a basement, I'm on a slab and live in Southern California. I received a ballpark quote for copper re piping of about $20K not including the drywall repair. That's a substantial hit, but the thing that worries me most are slab leaks (I'm on a post tension slab)

johnjh2o
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe

20K in my opinion is way out of line. In my area with a typical 2 bath home using PEX in the attic space with both hot and cold insulated, a high price would be $4500.00. There would be very little dry wall repair as most of the lines could be feed down through the walls. This price would include all new valves and supplies at each fixture. It would take a eight hour day with four men to complete the job. There are some company's that specializes in re-pipes that can do the job in even less time.

John

dj1
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe

MClark,

You need to get more bids. 20K is too high for an average houes.

I just did a copper repipe job about 4 months ago in a home in Southern California: main line to the meter, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, water heater and 2 hose bibs, in a 1 story home. I abondoned the pipes in the slab, and went through the attic. There were only 7 drywall cuts, and it was a breeze to repair them.

Where exactly is your house located?:)

A. Spruce
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe
johnjh2o wrote:

20K in my opinion is way out of line. In my area with a typical 2 bath home using PEX in the attic space with both hot and cold insulated, a high price would be $4500.00. There would be very little dry wall repair as most of the lines could be feed down through the walls. This price would include all new valves and supplies at each fixture. It would take a eight hour day with four men to complete the job. There are some company's that specializes in re-pipes that can do the job in even less time.

John

I would agree, $4500 sounds a lot more reasonable, even with the high price of copper these days. Certainly this price would only be for the repipe and not any repair of walls where access in necessary to run the new pipes.

My choice would also be for copper, for all the reasons that dj stated, plus the fact that plastic is a health hazard (phyto-estrogen source ). Supposedly the cross linking of the poly ethylene molecules makes it safer, but I'm not buying that load of cr*p.

Fencepost
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe
dj1 wrote:

Pex has been approved for use in california about 2 years ago, yet it hasn't gained wide popularity. Why?

- In earthquakes and other natural disasters, copper will resist snapping better than pex.

Perhaps you are thinking of PVC, CPVC, or polybutylene, which become brittle over time. PEX retains its flexibility and is actually more resilient than copper when subjected to freezing conditions. PEX fittings are comparable to copper fittings for resistance to freeze damage.

Quote:

- copper can be used outside, pex can't.

True; any plastic pipe -- even those with UV inhibitors -- will eventually be broken down by ultraviolet light. But copper, too, will eventually corrode when exposed to moisture and oxygen. PEX may be used outside if completely shielded from sunlight.

Quote:

- water in copper can't be contaminated as easily as in pex.

PEX is cross-linked polyethylene, which is a stronger, more stable form of the polyethylene used in milk jugs and food packaging. It does not leach chemicals as readily as PVC or CPVC, and does not contain BPA. (Archival photo sleeves avoid PVC, but they do use polyethylene.)

Given an improper pH balance or the presence of certain chemicals in the water supply, hazardous copper compounds can be formed when copper pipes are used.

Because the original poster is getting pinholes after only 22 years of use, this indicates corrosive water which is creating potentially harmful copper compounds in his drinking water. PEX may be a chemically safer choice.

It may also be that someone has connected steel and copper pipe without a proper dielectric fitting between the two, creating what amounts to a battery that induces an electric current that eats away at the copper.

Quote:

- copper will deliver water at high pressure better than pex.

PEX is rated to 160 PSI at 73 degrees, and 100 PSI at 180 degrees. This is sufficient for most residential applications. Pressure drop is a function of pipe diameter, interior smoothness, distance, and water flow. PEX has a slightly smaller interior diameter than copper and the fittings are somewhat smaller, but the pipe is just as smooth. Properly installed, there should be no difference in flow rates between PEX and copper.

As with any product, the wise consumer will consider all information -- pros and cons -- for each alternative.

dj1
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe

Fencepost,

All your points are well written and are sensible.

I still choose copper. Around here, copper is king.

I have a rental in a hilly area, where the street water pressure is extremely high. According to the dept of water & power rep, sometimes it reaches 300 psi, causing pressure regulators to go crazy. I replace the regulator/reducer every few years. Hard to imagine pressure this high. But can you imagine having pex?

Fencepost
Re: Pex or Copper for re pipe
dj1 wrote:

I have a rental in a hilly area, where the street water pressure is extremely high. According to the dept of water & power rep, sometimes it reaches 300 psi, causing pressure regulators to go crazy. I replace the regulator/reducer every few years. Hard to imagine pressure this high. But can you imagine having pex?

I can see that PEX would be a problem in this situation. If the regulators are unreliable and fail on the side of overpressure... ouch. You almost need a pressure-activated valve: if the pressure exceeds a certain amount, the valve closes and must be manually reset. Don't know if such a thing exists; maybe I just invented it! Be sure to put my name on the patent application.

Pages

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.