What's the best plumbing pipe for your home?

Pipes aren’t just copper anymore. Before you make a change or repair in your home’s plumbing system make sure you compare costs, durability and compatibility of all available materials, so you can make the best decision for your home and your wallet.


Information Text:

Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder: “Consumers have many choices when it comes to pipes for their house these days whether they use copper or PEX. The important thing when considering your options is to talk to a licensed plumber so they can give you all the pros and cons.”

Lance Smith, LD Smith Plumbing: “Average cost per foot for three quarter sized copper is between $2.50 and $3.00. Where PEX is more between .50 and $1.50 for the same size piping, so it’s almost half as much less for the material. Your labor is more between a quarter and a half as well. PEX has less heat loss. It’s kind of an insulated piping so yes PEX would be more energy efficient. It’s very easy to transition from copper to PEX. It’s as simple as one fitting that has the copper on one end, the welded fitting, and the crimp fitting to join the PEX to it. I’ve had a few people say that after a PEX installation there is kind of a plastic or chemical taste but that is very rare. I think that may have had something to do with that particular brand of piping. We do know that copper has an average life of about 50 years before the wall starts to thin out and needs replaced. PEX is projected to have that type of a life span, but we can’t prove that. We know it’s been in installation for almost 10 years and so far so good. So for long term performance we are being told that PEX will definitely surpass the 50 year shelf life of copper.”

Angie’s List Tips:

  • Check local code for approved pipe types

Time to replace pipes?

Warning signs:

  • Loss of water pressure
  • Corrosion around fittings

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Read up on health benefits of copper purifying your water. Viruses and mold cannot grow in copper.

The article mainly focused on the use of PEX in homes rather than truly informing people about choices in building construction. In regard to PEX, one important issue that was not mentioned is that some PEX installations have had issues with the connectors. Therefore, the installations can have problems if the work is not done properly. I recommend that people who are going to use PEX or have it used in their home research this plumbing to make sure they know what those issues are and what to look for.

Just another marketing ploy. What happens to the hot water side? Do chemicals from the pipe leech into the water? Until there is more information on this type of piping, I'd stick with cooper.

It's a common known fact that pex doesn't act different with hot water. I would agree with you that copper is better tho. The reason why company's now use pex (cross linked polyethylene) is it's properties. It holds up to water better than any other pipe. For example a 1/2" pex pipe can with hold 7 fixture units where a 1/2" copper pipe can only with hold 4. That's why company's use it it's way cheaper. Think of it this way 2 toilets in pex cost $1100 2 toilets in copper cost $3600. So you do the math.

Norwegian studies clearly show that PEX hot water pipes have considerable higher MBTE concentrations than a cold water one. That's a scientific fact (as opposed to a common known one).

I have used Pex for years and have had no issues. The only failures I have ever seen were with Poly-Bute plumbing and plastic fittings. Unfortunately with the new lead free mandates it has pushed the cost of brass Pex fittings sky high. I have had to go to plastic fittings for Pex plumbing. In terms of what is the best pipe to use for plumbing would be Pex. Then copper. CPVC is easy to work with but I have never been comfortable using it. PVC should never be used for household plumbing. Galvanized is hard to work with especially when dealing with leaks and lack of unions. Plus the rough interior of galvanized pipe attracts sediment and iron and will close off a pipe in no time.

what is cpvc pipe

I live in a 24 yr. old mobile home and have been having clogged up toilets and bathtubs intermittedly. I go to discover the plumber that came to help me found a broken sewage pipe under my home. How on earth can someone be so careless as to connect this when I purchased my home? all these other mobile homes in this park don't have this problem. I don't understand. I thought it could be the years of bad winter cold weather or something.

I own Clark Brothers Plumbing Co.Inc. I am a Master Plumber ClassII Non-Restricted Plumber If you look at 3/4inch pex fittings you'll notice the fittings reduce to the same size as 1/2 inch copper piping.Lose of volume due to reduction in fittings. I have heard of problems with pex tubing on re-circulating lines developing pin holes in piping.I suggest spending the extra for copper .It will save you down the road.I have also been doing plumbing repairs for 34 years. So ,I'm not making this up.I have seen it firsthand.

This is the first time hearing about this new pipe, I need to know more before conmetting on the subjuct.

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. It's that white pipe (sometimes with a pink tint). It is used on sump pumps nearly all the time, sewer/drain pipes, and even hot and cold water supply lines. It works, unlike some earlier plastic pipes.

There area three grades of PEX piping and over 20 manufacturers. The highest grade is "predicted" to last 50 years at best, the lower 2 grades are "predicted" to last 25 years at best. It will degrade when exposed to chlorine, pesticides, herbicides and rapidly degrades when exposed to sunlight. Our town uses chlorine to purify our water and actually spikes the amount of chlorine once a year for a month. Europe has used PEX for years, but they do not use chlorine to purify their water. Also, PEX degrades when exposed to pesticides and herbicides, so if some of your PEX lines are underground they may be degraded by such things as termiticides. Our plumber put in PEX at our request, as it was already used in our home. We moved some plumbing and to do so the plumber cut into our concrete to move a plumbing line. They added more termiticide to the area where they then placed the PEX tubing. Thus, causing future problems for our PEX. As soon as we found out the NUMEROUS problems of PEX degradation we decided to switch to copper piping. It will cost a couple of thousand dollars to re-do our new lines, but we consider it a "dodged-bullet ". Research PEX extensively before using it. At first our research didn't turn up any problems, but by digging a little deeper we found multitudes of problems. All of which our plumber claimed to have no knowledge of.

While I know they have used Pex plumbing in Europe since the late 60's... has anyone ever done the reaseach to see who the highest in the world for cancer is?? Denmark is #1. Do you know who started one of the first manufacturing plant's for Pex piping, if not the first?? DENMARK! Actually, 4 out of the top 6 countries in the world for the highest rate of cancer are from Europe. I have PEX in my home and have been smelling a very bad plastic smell coming out of my pipes and my plumber confirmed it. Its not only dangerous to drink this water, but also to bath in it. Please do your research before you put your babies or your loved ones in that deadly stuff. I will say they had ran my pipes through the heating ducks, not on them, through them, which is heating them and making them worse, but I still would never use them again.

Just so everyone knows copper is way better. The problem with copper is it cost more and it hast to be oversized. For example 3/4" copper should only take 7 fixture units where 3/4" pex can take 17. If you want to pipe your house to last for years and years pipe it in 1" copper. Then just have all your branches to fixtures have a dedicated 1/2" line each. It will cost way more to install but it will last ten times longer. Also change your prv (pressure reducing valve) once every 10 years. If you do that I will bet money you will not have problems.

I have a water main leak and water is in my front yard. I've had 3 plumbers come out. All said they were using copper pipes, excavating etc. only one is a master plumber and the pricing is from 2800 to 4800. The total work is 50 ft from the water main to my house. Why such a big pricing gap and should I be concerned? They all have websites, one doesn't have any reviews

JMartin, I'm sorry to hear about your water main leak! Fluctuations in price, like those you've seen, are normal and exactly why Angie's List advises consumers get three or more quotes. If you're having trouble choosing, check the reviews. A company with more positive reviews will likely provide you with the best work and experience.A master plumber likely has more experience than the other journeymen, but that doesn't mean they can't do the job. The important thing is that they're licensed, insured and bonded. For more information and questions to ask before hiring a plumber, check out the Angie's List Guide to Hiring a Plumber (http://www.angieslist.com/plumbing/plumbers.htm).To talk to someone in real time, please call us: 1-888-944-5478. Sincerely, James F.  |  Staff writer, Angie's List Magazine

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