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PEX vs Copper for Water Supply Lines

Water supply lines used to be made of galvanized steel. However, these days we have smarter material options that can stand up to the specific demands of a water supply line. Your main choices are PEX or copper. While copper piping is the most common option for a water supply line it may not be right for you. We typically recommend PEX but will use copper if the situation warrants it. Here’s a comparison of these two materials.

Why Choose Copper for a Supply Line?

Copper is a great piping material that we use in a few different applications. When installed properly, copper can last for decades, or even the life of the building. We use thick copper piping in order to ensure that our installations will stand the test of time. We also have to make sure that the copper won’t be touching other metals, even in nails, as it will react to other metals and degrade overtime.

However, copper has a few downsides that might be deal-breakers for you. For one, it is much more expensive than the alternative, PEX. It is also more challenging to install for retrofits because it is a rigid pipe. It needs to be cut and have an elbow installed at every bend. That can make re-pipes more costly as your plumber needs to spend more time on them.

Why Choose PEX for a Supply Line?

PEX is a flexible pipe made from cross-linked polyethylene, a special kind of plastic. In a short time, it has become very popular for water supply lines and is expected to replace copper almost entirely on these installations. The reasons are simple: PEX is less expensive and much simpler to install.

PEX pipe is as flexible as your backyard hose but significantly more durable. This flexibility means that we can use it to snake around corners and through tight spots in your walls without any hassle at all. That saves us, and you, a ton of time on our installations.

For durability, PEX is a great choice too. PEX will not corrode, as copper and steel will in certain circumstances. And, when it freezes, PEX piping expands so that it doesn’t crack.

If you have heard that PEX pipe tends to spring a leak, you’re half right. PEX used to spring leaks at the fittings, but manufacturers have since developed a new fitting system that prevents the problem. Now, there’s no reason for the average homeowner to use copper over PEX for their water supply lines.

Materials You Shouldn’t Use

Water supply lines used to be made of galvanized steel, but it just doesn’t have the longevity and quality we can achieve with PEX or copper. A new piping option, CPVC, is not suitable for water supply lines at all because it can crack when frozen and doesn’t offer muchlongevity.

In the end, PEX has an advantage over other materials due to its low cost and exceptional durability. However, copper is still an option for those homeowners who want a tried and true material it will just cost more.