Hello people, I hope you all are doing well. Today I’m going to share an extensive guide on PEX Vs PVC, and we’ll help you choose which one is the best for your piping needs.
Whenever there’s a situation where you face a dilemma about choosing PEX or PVC, rather than making an abrupt choice, you should go for the one which suits your needs the best. Determining which one, PEX, or PVC is best for you is not rocket science, but there are a few factors that should be taken care of for perfect results.
PEX pipes are made from Cross-Linked Polyethylene whereas, PVC pipes are made from polyvinyl chloride. Both are fantastic options for almost all kinds of piping projects. However, there are in total 5 options for piping – PVC, PEX, ABS, CPVC, and Copper. Each of these options is great at something and certain things that they are not.
When choosing, keep your goals in mind, which one fits your need the best, the pros and cons of each, and think how long you want to use the pipes and where they will be stationed. Keep these points in your mind and act accordingly; you’ll choose the best thing for you.
What is PEX?
Many households use PEX plumbing systems to supply hot and cold water PEX piping is manufactured by HDPE and extruded in the form of a tube. This system of piping was introduced in the US just 40 years ago its catching up quickly with the competition.
What is PVC?
PVC piping is the most common type of piping used in household drain, waste, or vent (DWV) piping. For a long time, it became a replacement for metal and copper piping. Its strength and durability made PVC one of the most used thermoplastics in the world.
PEX VS PVC: Heat and Cold –
One of the most critical factors that need to consider is both the pipes handle heat and cold.
PVC holds up well with high pressure, but the same can’t be said with hot water. The hot water running through PVC will affect it, making it unsuited not only for hot water but drinking water as well.
Another disadvantage is that PVC is not flexible and needs connections to bend, making it more prone to have leaks. Suppose the water in the pipes freeze; it will likely burst.
On the other hand, PEX pipes handle hot water very well; they can also retain some heat. If you’re using a lot of hot water, PEX is the right choice for you. Interestingly, PEX pipes will not burst even when water in the pipe freezes.
Interesting Read – ABS Vs PVC | The Complete Guide
PEX vs. PVC: Costing –
Here, the PVC vs PEX debate gets heated and takes a more interesting turn as the cost is obviously a factor that is subjective. The cost of both types of pipes can differ substantially depending on the grade you choose for your application. Each of these options has a slight difference in their lifespan, which should be given a thought to the cost factor.
By comparison, PVC pipes are easier to find and are cheaper. PEX pipes are usually similar to CPVC pipes, but you can also look for more expensive pipes, costing you as much as copper pipes.
PEX Pipes have the same lifespan as copper pipes – 40-50 years. While PVC pipes have a much longer lifespan, kept under the right conditions, a PVC pipe can last for 75-80 years.
Once the usefulness of a PVC pipe is over, regardless of the installation time, it can be recycled, which cannot be said about PEX pipes. However, CPVC pipes, also need to be replaced after 20-25 years and are more expensive than PVC.
Another factor adding to piping costs is the installation. Where the pipes need to be positioned or how hard or easy they are to install are essential. For instance, you are replacing pipes already installed in a wall, it will be way more expensive as the part of the wall has to be demolished to remove the pipes and fix them again.
Pros and Cons of PVC Pipes –
1. Outdoor Safety: PVC is suitable for outdoor usage – even above ground. You have to cover the exterior of the piping with water-based paint.
2. Frames & Fittings: It is available in any length or size you might require and is also equipped with various stiff frames and fittings. In addition, it doesn’t need any wood or metal framework to support it, and like all the other options will not corrode or rust.
3. Cost-Effectiveness: As said before PVC is the cheapest piping option out there.
Engaging Read – HDPE Pipe Sizes and Dimensions | A Complete Analysis
1. Leak Risk: Rigid PVC pipes bring a higher risk of leaks as every connection will need an elbow. You’ll also run the risk of cracked pipes if PVC freezes.
2. Temperature Limitations: According to ASTM, PVC plumbing cannot be used above 140 F, only for DWV Applications. For bathroom applications, including hot water. You must install CPVC, which is considered safe up to 200 F°.
Pros and Cons of Pex Pipes –
1. Easy Installation: PEX pipes are easier to install than PVC pipes, thanks to their flexibility. It makes the plumber’s job easy as he/she has to create fewer connections because PEX can bend to accommodate changes in direction. The benefit for you in it is the fewer potential sources of plumbing leaks. The small number of connections necessary will be made using crimp fittings or cold expansion—no need to use any glue, which will derisk the chances of it leaching into the water.
2. Freeze Resistance: It can withstand freezing efficiently (again, it’s because its flexibility lets the piping diameter expand when the water pressure changes). In layman’s language, you will be less likely to end up with burst pipes.
3. Compatibility with Metal Pipes: Although PVC pipes are compatible with metal pipes, PEX pipes are comparatively better and make a better connection.
4. Safety: All PEX plumbing pipes must be certified to cater to ANSI/NSF Standard 61 for drinking water safety to verify that they are safe for potable water.
Price: PEX pipes, as established earlier, are more expensive than PVC pipes. This is a factor that makes the PEX vs PVC comparison more confusing (however, it will be balanced out with lower installation cost).
UV Intolerance: PEX is not tolerant of prolonged exposure to sunlight, limiting its application possibilities. It’s fine if installed indoors, but it can’t be kept above ground if installed outside.
What About CPVC and Copper Pipes?
There are other lucrative piping options other than PVC and PEX. Let’s have a look at their pros and cons.
Fascinating Read – What is PVC Fittings? | What is PVC Connection? | The Definitive Guide
CPVC Pipes: Pros
Safe for Drinking Water: CPVC pipes are made from Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride instead of just polyvinyl chloride. That additional layer of chlorine makes it more durable and safe for drinking water.
Ideal Flowrates: CPVC pipes have a very smooth surface in the interior allowing them to show resistance towards scaling and adulteration. This decreases the friction pressure of the liquid flowing by a substantial margin. Therefore, CPVC pipes allow more liquid to flow in pumps with more cross-section areas making them more energy-efficient.
Low Thermal Conductivity: CPVC pipes maintain the surface temperature of the pipe at a low temperature, thereby reducing the risk of burns to maintenance and operations personnel. The low thermal conductivity also reduces the loss of heat. CPVC pipes can also handle a wide variety of temperatures.
CPVC Pipes: Con
The added chlorine cover which makes CPVC pipes more durable also makes it a bit more expensive than PVC, which is the reason it is not used that much.
Copper Pipes: Pros:
Earthquake-proof: Copper will bend sooner than it breaks, making copper pipes the best option if you for houses in earthquake-prone areas. If your home is damaged in the earthquake, you have one less thing to worry about.
UV Resistant and Withstanding Elevated Temperatures: Copper pipes do not corrode and can easily handle extreme temperatures. They are UV resistant and also resist bacteria buildups helping in keeping your water clean. Because of this, it can be placed even in places where there is direct sunlight.
Better Looking: This might be useful for some people or not useful at all, but copper piping looks much better than plastic piping, usually white in color.
Copper Pipes: Cons:
Contaminated Water: Although cooper piping keeps your water free from bacteria, there are healthy chances some of that copper is more than likely to end up in your water. That makes the water a little difficult to digest, and many experts have suggested that copper in your water is supposedly bad for your health.
Not Easy to Work With: Finding a good plumber willing to work with copper piping is way more complicated than PVC vs. PEX piping.
Your Plumbing Might Need To Be Replaced –
Most of the time, we don’t think about our plumbing unless we notice a leak or something else drawing attention to it. At this point, you not only have to think about your pipes but also have to pay for the water damage. At this point, you should replace your pipes before they get old and leaky, so you can avoid paying more in the future.
When you are moving into a new home, one of the few things you should learn about is plumbing. You should learn about what kind of pipes are placed there and how they were installed. Knowing the information will give you an idea of when their lifespan will be over. It’s tricky, I get it, but it’s doable, and it will make you act on it before something goes haywire.
Replacing the pipes has several benefits, not just limited to preventing leaks, But it will provide two more advantages. Most of the time, the new pipes installed will help the water flow faster since the old pipelines can contain build-up in them.
Clearing out the build-up will also make your water safer to drink, and if you’re selling, it will also add to the home’s value.
Interesting Read – CPVC VS PVC | Difference Between PVC and CPVC
The Installtion Process –
I’ll keep the installation process simple and straightforward. No matter what you need, PEX, PVC, or something else, a specific procedure must be used for a new piping installation. First of all, get the project estimate from at least two plumbers to have an idea about what you will be charged for the project you have on hand.
If the plumbing process includes removing a part of the wall then you should count on the project taking at least a couple of days. Plan for this if possible, and try to pick a few days that would be best for you.
For extended work, you should expect to go closer to five days for the job. You should also verify that the plumber you’re hiring has a license to work at your home. If your plumber doesn’t have a license, then it will create problems with the insurance companies. They will not pay for any faulty pipelines.
Some plumbing companies have a person on their staff whose job is to take care of your walls before and after. However, once the new pipe has been installed, you will have to get it inspected officially. Yes, doing this will take a few extra hours, but it will save you a significant amount of money and time later if you have any problems.
Once this has been done, lastly, you need to close everything back up and clean the area. A salient tip is setting up a fan to blow up the site and help the area dry up quickly.
1. Does PEX pipes need to be insulated?
Ans. Yes. PEX pipes are better at withstanding freezing temperatures than other materials, but they don’t make them freeze-proof. If the temperature drops below 20 Fahrenheit, your pipes have a good chance of freezing.
2. How much weight can PVC pipe hold?
Ans. Most PVC pipes will be able to hold at least 28 pounds of weight before they start bending. However, sometimes longer PVC pipes begin to bend under their weight. A prime rule of thumb is never to use PVC pipes to hold larger quantities of weight, especially if you don’t want them to become stiff.
3. Which is the best glue for PVC?
Ans. The best adhesives for bonding PVC are Cyanoacrylates UV curable adhesives because it is crucial for one of the substrates to transmit UV light.
4. What type of glue do you use for PEX pipe?
Ans. Unlike PVC, PEX pipes do not need glue or cement for joining. Instead, they can simply be joined with push-to-connect fittings, metal inserts fittings, or plastic insert fittings for a watertight seal.
5. How long are PVC and PEX pipes are in size?
Ans. A standard PVC and PEX pipe are 10 feet to 20 feet long.
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That was all I had to say about PEX vs. PVC pipes. Both the options, along with copper and CPVC, are capable of fulfilling your needs without any complications. However, as mentioned above, many points need to be taken care of to choose the most suitable option for your application.
Thanks for reading. Kindly share your reviews in the comment box.
Have a wonderful day.