Know the Features and Benefits Before Using It
With all the concern about plastics and BPA (bisphenol A) in water sources PEX tubing, an increasingly common material to carry the water supply in a house, is now coming under scrutiny. Is the water sitting in PEX tubing a health hazard? Should we really be using just copper for water piping? Is the concern really all that warranted? After reading an article at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com I did a little more research.
Also known as cross-linked polyethylene, PEX is resistant to chlorine and scale, flexible, fast to install part of water supply piping system. The high-density polyethylene is continuously melted into tubing. Using it has shown its various advantages compared with metal pipes or plastic pipes that are rigid such as CPVC, PVC, and ABS, for water piping system. Some advantages of PEX include:
- Lower handling and shipping costs since PEX tube is relatively lightweight (compared to copper) and is shipped and stored in spools thus making shipping slightly easier.
- When attaching PEX tubes to fittings one does not need soldering. This eliminates hazards with acid fluxes and lead-based solders.
- Easy to install without needing a torch for connections.
- Freeze-breakage resistant.
- Conserves energy by not transferring heat as coppers do (although it shouldn’t be considered “insulated”).
- Less expensive than copper pipes both for materials and labor.
One of the major concerns of people, not only with pipe products, but with everything being utilized by the whole family are the health hazards these bring. With PEX tubing, the big question is: Is it SAFE?
PEX tubing has been widely known and popularly used in Europe for many years with problems rarely encountered. With people who are used to having copper piping but hope to switch to PEX, it’s natural to question the relative health safety of the new material. Looking at countries or regions that have used the material for awhile will give us a glimpse into its long term effects.
It has undergone testing with the American Safety for Testing and Materials and National Sanitation Foundation or NSF International. These organizations verified that PEX consistently meets the standards for health safety. PEX can be considered reliable and dependable due to the fact that it is tested and manufactured according to very strict standards. Before a PEX product is sold in the market, it must undergo testing and must pass and comply with all these standards so as to ensure safety and quality.
PEX also has a 3-dimensional molecular bond that offers advantages over metal pipes such as: Resistance to heat deformation, chemicals, scratching, shrinkage, stress cracks, and abrasion. Constant water flow and pressure is ensured with the use of PEX pipes.
After learning more about the potential health issues with PEX as a water supply pipe I’m really not too concerned about it. Copper isn’t necessarily a perfect product either, as it’s susceptible to pin hole leaks. Copper is also more difficult to work with in terms of its inflexibility and occasional difficulty in getting a solder joint right. All things considered I’ll probably go with PEX on my next home building project.
Cross-linked Polyethylene at Wikipedia.
Beginner’s article on How to Install PEX