Need New Pipes? Say Hello To “PEX”!

Unless we were engineering students, we likely didn’t write a term paper titled “The History of Water Pipes”. And it probably isn’t a book title you’d grab off the store shelf. Water lines don’t make the news unless they break.

From the aqua ducts, rolled lead pipes and canals of ancient Rome to wooden well casings from the Middle Ages to modern era light-gauge copper and plastic, water pipes continue to evolve.

PEX (aka “crosslinked polyethylene”) piping has become a popular product in new home construction and remodels. It has many advantages over traditional copper, metal or rigid plastic pipes.

To appreciate the advantages of PEX, it helps to understand what other products require in the way of installation. Copper pipe, aside from being more expensive, is rigid. It comes in fixed lengths. Soldering is required to attach lengths together or when cutting smaller lengths to go around corners. It requires more precision fitting and is time consuming to install. It must be handled carefully as an improper bend could cause a crack in the pipe.

PVC pipes are easier to handle and more forgiving. Yet they require a two-stage gluing process. While less expensive than copper, it’s similar in that it comes in fixed lengths and it’s rigidity makes installation more challenging.

PEX eliminates or minimizes problems inherent with traditional piping. It’s flexible, coming in large rolls instead of rigid fixed lengths. A typical 1/2″ tube comes on a spool containing 1,200 feet.

Increased flexibility means fewer fittings. Instead of elbow joints and 90 degree couplers on copper and PVC, the PEX pipe simply bends around corners. It’s easily run through walls. No glues or solder are necessary, eliminating chemicals from the installation process. It doesn’t corrode, won’t develop holes and doesn’t allow scale build up.

In cold weather climates, PEX significantly reduces the dread of freezing pipes. In copper or PVC piping, when temperatures drop and water freezes, the water expands putting pressure on the pipe to the point of cracking or breaking. In cold temperatures, PEX piping expands with the freezing water instead of cracking.

PEX tubes are much easier to install, reducing labor costs. They also come color coded in white, black, blue and red, to help the homeowner and plumber distinguish between cold and hot water lines. If you can believe it, water through PEX tubing flows more quietly than through copper so there’s no more “rattling pipes”.

The professionals at Sinclair utilize PEX tubing in both new construction and remodel projects. If you’re planning for a new home or updating your existing residence, they will be happy to talk with you about the best plumbing options for your needs. Call Sinclair at 806-749-COOL (2665)

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