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Q: We are doing an upgrade/remodel on our existing home. The contractor has informed us it would be wise to replace our existing plumbing system. We’ve heard of copper pipe. Can you tell us what PEX pipe is? Does it matter which one we use?

A: First, here’s wishing you an extra measure of patience during your remodel project. It’s wonderful when it’s finished but getting there can be a taxing experience.

Let’s start with copper pipe. For decades, copper piping has been the preferred choice for plumbing. It’s very durable. Under good conditions it can last a hundred years. Copper works in both interior and exterior applications. It won’t corrode. And in the sad event of a fire, it won’t burn.

As many homes and businesses discovered the hard way over the past ten years, exterior copper tubing has been a big target for thieves. They simply cut the pipe off and sell it. While copper prices have recently come down dramatically, it is still a favorite item for bad guys to steal.

Copper piping requires a professional installation as the connections must be soldered properly to avoid leaks. The initial cost of copper piping will be higher than other types of pipe.

Almost 16 billion feet of PEX has been installed around the world.

The “X” stands for cross linking. It’s the way the molecules arrange to increase the strength and flexibility of the piping.

Plumbers like PEX because it’s flexible. Since most plumbing leaks happen around joints, PEX is better because the more flexible it is, the fewer joints are required. It’s easy to install and doesn’t require soldering like copper pipe.

It’s also immune to scale build up, which adds even more longevity to your piping. Areas with hard water, like here in West Texas, can be a real problem for metal piping as over time the scale build up can clog.

Another benefit of PEX’ flexibility is that your pipes won’t “rattle” or “ping”. Because PEX isn’t rigid, your pipes won’t be singing to you!

So which pipe is best for you? Here are some scenarios to consider:

If you’re concerned about how long your pipe will last? Either one will be great. Copper is good for at least 100 years. PEX has been lab tested and it’s estimated life is around 200 years. So unless you are Methuselah who lives to be 969, you won’t be doing a re-pipe during your lifetime!

If you’re in a climate where super cold winters are the norm, go with PEX.

If cost is a factor, PEX will typically be less expensive both in product cost and installation.

If you need an exterior application and/or a pipe that is fire resistant, then copper is a better choice.

806-749-2665. We’ll give you our best recommendation for your particular situation.

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