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View Full Version : Copper vs. Pex for water supply


JohnnyB
05-11-2008, 05:01 PM
Looking at building materials....with the price of copper, does anyone have any knowledge or thoughts on the use of Pex for water supply lines (hot/cold to sinks, showers, toilets, etc).

bigmac
05-11-2008, 05:04 PM
Looking at building materials....with the price of copper, does anyone have any knowledge or thoughts on the use of Pex for water supply lines (hot/cold to sinks, showers, toilets, etc).
My buddy, who's a plumber, tells me that copper is still way at the top of the quality heap.

sand2snow22
05-11-2008, 05:10 PM
I just got rid of the all the galvanized in our house and used wirsbo. Very easy and less labor than copper. Copper is still probably better (wirsbo doesn't have the true test of time), but we'll be out of this house long before we have any problems.

djhuff
05-12-2008, 07:53 AM
Pex is a great product. Very easy to install, cheaper than copper on the material and labor components. The best thing is that there are about 1/4 of the joints in the pipe than you have with copper. It's also flexible so that if a nail does hit the pipe, it moves out of the way rather than getting punctured.

As far as synthetic materials go though, Pex is at the top of the heap.

Go for it.

BrianM
05-12-2008, 08:25 AM
Due to the price increases of copper we have switch over to using Pex on all of the new construction in our developement. Great product. I am getting ready to build my own home and will be using Pex as well.

stuartmcnair
05-12-2008, 11:00 AM
Here is a link that has a little more detail on it. I went with copper on our latest project because I am very comfortable with it...but I wouldn't be opposed to using PEX in residential after reading up on it.

PEX Articles (http://www.phcnews.com/march_07/pex.php)

Sodar
05-12-2008, 11:26 AM
I am 99% sure that California has not allowed the use of PEX piping. I believe it has been in litigation since 2001-ish, because the pipe fitters union is have such a problem with it.

The only two applications I have seen it used in this far was for a high-end home that had a central purified water system and the PEX piping was ran all through the house to EVERY sink in the place... the contractor had to get a deffered approval and from what I heard, even with that, the building inspector was not ready to sign the house off.

The more recent use I have seen was for a project I am on right now, where they are using PEX piping to run chilled water in, to cool down computer server racks in a hospital's main server room. I watched them install it last week and was very suprised at just how quickly it goes together.

BrianM
05-12-2008, 11:36 AM
I am 99% sure that California has not allowed the use of PEX piping. I believe it has been in litigation since 2001-ish, because the pipe fitters union is have such a problem with it.
.

Kalifornia! The Union doesn't like it because it reduces the amount of labor involved. Don't get me started on unions especially for the construction trades.

djhuff
05-12-2008, 02:53 PM
Wow, the good old Peoples Republic of California strikes again.

ShamrockIV
05-12-2008, 02:55 PM
can i ask the stupid question of what the h@ll is pex??

my house has pvc pipes!!!!

sand2snow22
05-12-2008, 02:57 PM
I smell a rat in the house ;)

ShamrockIV
05-12-2008, 03:06 PM
rat????????????????????

not me i got my card!!!

Sodar
05-12-2008, 03:09 PM
Read here: http://www.ppfahome.org/pex/faqpex.html

It is an alternative for copper and PVC... it is more flexible and uses no glue. The pipe fittings are crimped on... not really crimped, but there is a collar that goes on rather than gluing or soldering. http://img.alibaba.com/photo/50527686/PEX_Al_PEX_Pipe_and_Fitting.jpg

Installed:

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2007-1/1241998/DSC00602.JPG

ShamrockIV
05-12-2008, 03:10 PM
thanks sodar!! i am a pvc guy. i have had to replace some of mine and it sure is easy to work with!!

shhh!!! don't tell u union guys!!

BrianM
05-12-2008, 05:28 PM
A lot of municiplities do not allow PVC to be used for water supply lines pretty much ,aking Pex or copper the only options for many.

icewake
05-12-2008, 05:52 PM
we have used pvc for all of our additions onto our house

JohnnyB
05-12-2008, 06:15 PM
PVC is for drains, Pex if for supply lines.

Given the cost of copper, Pex is looking like a possible alternative.

My only resources on the subject are union plumbers who are 'craftsman' and are a bit bent about the fact that it takes very little skill to do a Pex installation and reduces time greatly....they constantly down it!!!

CRAIGTHEMAN
05-12-2008, 06:35 PM
hey johnnyb what and how much r u looking for..im a plumber here in green bay and we do have alot of scrap pieces that i would give away cheap...i am a union plumber and you r right..i hate pex fast and easy to do but looks like crap

CRAIGTHEMAN
05-12-2008, 06:43 PM
same as pro press looks like crap if you do a ton of it...anyways drop me a PM and let me know johhny

vogelm1
05-12-2008, 07:02 PM
We put in an outdoor shower at our cabin and used pex for the supply lines. Very slick stuff. Easy to run and crimp on fittings. Rather than blow out the lines in fall, we just drained them best we could and experimented to see if the lines would freeze/crack. The cabin isn't insulated and came through several winters now (down to -20 F at times) without issue.

ski_king
05-12-2008, 07:40 PM
Plastic is the only way to go in my opinion. But then again I work for a company that supports the plastic pipe industry.

When I built my house I plumbed all my hot and cold water supply lines with CPVC and used PVC for drains. Pex was really not being used much then.

I am not sure I like the fact that Pex used mechanical connections within the walls that may have a problem down the road 20 years or so and may require the wall to be opened up.

djhuff
05-13-2008, 08:01 AM
Guys, don't mix up PVC with CPVC. Different stuff. Don't use PVC for water lines, it's just a bad idea on many levels (there is stuff in PVC that's not real good to ingest that will transfer to the water, as well as it's not sanitary).

CPVC is Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride and is what you would use. Different glue, different primer.

sand2snow22
05-13-2008, 12:12 PM
I went by a development last night and saw huge rolls of this stuff on the second floor! I would have taken a picture, but my camera phone sucks.


Read here: http://www.ppfahome.org/pex/faqpex.html

It is an alternative for copper and PVC... it is more flexible and uses no glue. The pipe fittings are crimped on... not really crimped, but there is a collar that goes on rather than gluing or soldering. http://img.alibaba.com/photo/50527686/PEX_Al_PEX_Pipe_and_Fitting.jpg

Installed:

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2007-1/1241998/DSC00602.JPG

JimN
05-13-2008, 12:44 PM
I have been hearing that mice like to chew on PEX.

Sodar
05-13-2008, 12:48 PM
I have been hearing that mice like to chew on PEX.


Oh man, that would suck! I bet the mice get more than they bargin for, also! 8p

JimN
05-13-2008, 12:53 PM
Giant Water Pik? Nice, clean gums, though.

454Prostar190
05-13-2008, 01:37 PM
I have been hearing that mice like to chew on PEX.

They do! I could tell a couple of stories about mice and pex. The other issue with "pex" is that "any mechanical connection must be accessible". So, an access panel is necessary where the pex is manifolded or spliced/repaired mid run and proper planning is recommended. It is allowed in California in some jurisdictions although the unions fight it. In San Francisco there is not any type of plastic plumbing allowed. All drainage plumbing must be Cast Iron or DWV Copper and water supply piping must be Type M or Type L copper depending on the application. Back to PEX: I have used it in Hydronic Heating applications many times. And as long as the floor guys or framers don't run a screw through it or shoot a nail into it it works great and will probably last as long or longer than copper as there is not any need to worry about "electrolysis" which will wear copper piping out if present. Mice and rodents are the enemy!

djhuff
05-13-2008, 01:48 PM
They do! I could tell a couple of stories about mice and pex. The other issue with "pex" is that "any mechanical connection must be accessible". So, an access panel is necessary where the pex is manifolded or spliced/repaired mid run and proper planning is recommended. It is allowed in California in some jurisdictions although the unions fight it. In San Francisco there is not any type of plastic plumbing allowed. All drainage plumbing must be Cast Iron or DWV Copper and water supply piping must be Type M or Type L copper depending on the application. Back to PEX: I have used it in Hydronic Heating applications many times. And as long as the floor guys or framers don't run a screw through it or shoot a nail into it it works great and will probably last as long or longer than copper as there is not any need to worry about "electrolysis" which will wear copper piping out if present. Mice and rodents are the enemy!

Only in the Peoples Republic of California!!

Well, definately not here, and I build in some of the tougher jurisdictions in NC.

454Prostar190
05-13-2008, 02:00 PM
[QUOTE=djhuff]Only in the Peoples Republic of California!!

So true! And San Francisco is like it's own country! :rolleyes:

Workin' 4 Toys
05-13-2008, 09:50 PM
I use copper. If someone were to ask me which I'd use, I'd tell them copper.

I'd guess there really isn't anything wrong with plastic pipe. It's used for some drains here, and the $#!t flows through it just fine.

JimN
05-13-2008, 09:59 PM
Copper also has anti-microbial properties, so it's healthier.

Copper- is there nothing it can't do? Sorry, that's supposed to be 'donuts'.

JohnE
05-14-2008, 06:54 AM
Pex, CPVC, and the other stuff just became legal here in MA about 3 years ago. Same union blockage scenario. I would use copper if it were in the budget.

djhuff
05-14-2008, 08:08 AM
Just remember, when you go and sell the house, it's going to really depend on what is the standard for your area. If I were to use copper here, it would add at least 10-15% to the plumbing bid, and not add a single dollar to the sale price of the house.

No perceived value here, if there is one in your market, go for it, but I don't believe in putting anything into a house that I can't get back out dollar wise.

Covi
05-14-2008, 07:52 PM
I just finished a bathroom re-model and pex the **** out of it! Love working with it! Makes plumbing fun. Did I just say that?

Farmer Ted
05-14-2008, 08:09 PM
Another thought is that thieves are less likely to pilfer your PEX plumbing as your house is being built