In this day and age, every invention and purchase is about cost-effectiveness and stellar performance. If you top it off with the factor of sustainability, things tend to get a little more complicated.
Even if you don’t get all these at once, the one thing that you cannot absolutely compromise with is durability, and this is where PEX tubes swoop in to take the crown.
Thanks to genius innovations such as PEX pipes, you’ve got all bases covered, along with rock-solid durability that you can count on for decades!
PEX pipes hence have it all to become your number one go-to choice for a premium-level plumbing job due to their top-notch features and superior durability.
So let’s check out everything there is to know about PEX lifespan without further ado!
What Is PEX Tubing?
Initially produced around the 1930s, PEX is the abbreviation of Cross-linked Polyethylene which is now used to make pipes for water distribution.
It is a great replacement for copper, PVC, CPVC, ABS, cast iron, etc., and other pipes due to their enhanced performance and durability along with other superior features.
They are composed of cross-linked high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which, upon melting is shaped into a continuous tube or an ultra-standard pipe.
Hence, the product you receive is not only a super-pipe with enhanced features, but is also appropriate for the widest array of both non-potable & potable purposes for residential, commercial, and industrial plumbing.
Besides being suitable for plumbing, these pipes are compatible with hydronic and radiant heating mechanisms too.
Even though these PEX pipes have forever been used in Europe for decades to provide heating via radiant hydronic systems, it wasn’t until the 1980s that they made their mark in the US.
Now, PEX pipes are the beloved choice of professionals for plumbing, floor heating, etc., and more!
PEX types are available in sizes of 0.25-3 inches in diameter and come in various colors such as red, blue, white, grey, orange, etc., providing you with maximum versatility. The colors also aid in keeping track of which pipe is which, making your life easier.
How Long Does Pex Pipe Last? Pex Pipe Lifespan
PEX tubing durability is 10 times or more than your usual copper or other pipes due to their flexibility, corrosion resistance, and anti-freeze properties.
Typically, PEX pipes come with a warranty of around 25 years. Depending on the weather, water, heat, etc., and other factors, PEX tubes tend to easily last for around 40-50 years without leaks or needing replacements!
Some long-term tests conducted on these pipes have also shown that these pipes possess the potential to even last up to a century!
How To Make PEX Tubes/Pipe Last Longer?
In order to make your PEX pipes last longer, there are several precautions you can take before choosing and installing them.
The presence of chlorine in water causes PEX tubes to oxidize rapidly, resulting in leakages. Hence, try to determine the chlorine content in your water sources before making your purchase.
Just to be on the safe side, choose a PEX-B tube as these come equipped with maximum chlorine resistance.
Some manufacturers add antioxidants to the PEX pipe composition which act as a sacrificial barrier against chlorine damage, prolonging the lifespan of your PEX pipes.
Avoiding Sunlight/UV Rays
Avoid using these pipes in the outdoors or anywhere that gets exposed to sunlight or UV rays. This is because PEX pipes are super-sensitive to UV rays and will get damaged rapidly, losing all their elastic properties, turning brittle as their molecular structure breaks down.
Hence, choose a brand of PEX pipes that use a UV stabilizer in their PEX composition. This will provide 2-6 months of protection against UV, keeping the pipes safe against temporary, unavoidable exposures to sunlight and UV rays.
Considering The Permeability
PEX pipes are partially permeable, meaning that some chemicals and oxygen can pass through into the water from outside.
While oxygen penetration is not an issue in general cases, the problem arises when it is a closed system of the water cycle, such as in a hydronic radiant heating system. The continuous supply of oxygen in a closed plumbing system will cause the metal fittings and heating elements to rust.
Thus, when plumbing for such a closed water system, opt for the orange PEX tubes that come with an oxygen barrier for preventing external oxygen from seeping in.
If you intend to use PEX pipes for underground plumbing, and if the ground there or the groundwater has been contaminated with chemicals, pesticides, etc., those can penetrate through the pipes too.
In that case, before deciding on PEX pipes, test the groundwater and the soil to determine any presence of such chemicals.
Considering The Leaching Of Chemicals
Excessive chlorine in the water supply can cause PEX pipes to leach chemicals left in the pipes from their manufacturing process. Hence, once again, you need to test your water supply to ensure that PEX pipes are the right choice.
In order for them to be suitable, you should be looking for a chlorine concentration less than 4 ppml (parts per million) and a water pH of 6.5 or higher.
Prevention Of Dezincification
As teeth-shattering as this term sounds, the issue is actually quite simple. Dezincification is basically when zinc leaches off from brass alloy fixtures.
This results in the brass fixtures becoming weak, eventually leading to leakages and needing repairs or replacements.
Though this is not an issue directly related to PEX pipes, it is indirectly related to the fittings that they require.
Hence, in order to make your PEX plumbing system last longer, opt for brass fittings that are resistant to dezincification, or go for poly-alloy (PPSU) PEX fittings.
You can also opt for installing the longest PEX tubes as your system allows as much as possible. This will reduce the number of joints you’d need, reducing the number of fixtures needed, all leading to lower levels of dezincification.
Last but not the least, you need to ensure that the pipes are installed properly with the right fittings, right tools, and in all the right conditions as discussed above.
A faulty installation will damage your pipes earlier or get in the way of their performance no matter what pipe you use-PEX or no PEX. So, follow the correct rules and factors upon installation to make the best of your PEX pipes.
PEX Or Copper: Which One is More Sustainable?
To the untrained eye, in the battle of sustainability, copper seems to be the clear winner, right?
As weird as it may seem initially, that is actually not true. PEX tubes, though non-biodegradable plastic produced with the use of non-renewable resources are far more sustainable overall and in the long run than copper.
This is because, whatever non-renewable resources you use, it is better to use them to produce a product that’s ultra-durable than producing one-time use items such as straws, cups, bottles, utensils, etc.
Since PEX tubes last for decades effortlessly, the manufacturing costs both in terms of money and resources are significantly lower.
On the other hand, the overall process of mining copper, refining it, and converting it into pipes is a lengthy process that takes up a hefty amount of costs and resources.
Copper pipes are also heavier, requiring extra effort in transportation and disposal.
You’ll also find that even after all the hassle, copper pipes are not as durable as PEX pipes since they are highly susceptible to corrosion, limescale buildup, leaks, etc.
Unlike copper pipes, PEX tubes are flexible and can curve and bend, meaning that they require far less connections and fittings.
Their smaller internal diameter along with a smooth internal surface creates more water pressure and reduces water waste and the effects of friction in comparison to copper tubes.
PEX pipes possess a greater degree of insulation properties than copper pipes. This means the hot/cold water retains its desired temperature longer, resulting in you not needing to use energy to reheat the water again. It also means you waste less water while waiting for hot water to start flowing.
PEX tubes are the ideal material for radiant hydronic cooling and such cooling systems are energy-efficient and can even make use of renewable sources of energy such as solar or geothermal energy. These systems require minimal maintenance too, further enhancing their sustainability.
Even though PEX cannot be recycled, it doesn’t mean that they are single-purpose products. You can easily use damaged PEX tubes’ remains as filler items for other purposes.
Some companies even incinerate them to produce heat energy from the potential energy of these pipes.
Another impressive feature of PEX is the fact that they are resistant to freezing, expanding enough when the water freezes and returning to their original shape and size when the water thaws.
This unique feature once again makes them the overall sustainable choice over copper pipes due to their lower maintenance and higher durability.
Here is our detailed guideline about PEX and Copper That which one is sweetble for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Are PEX Sensitive To High Temperatures?
Many users fear that PEX tubes are a type of plastic and hence cannot withstand hot water, but nothing can be further from the truth.
These pipes can not only withstand temperatures of up to 200⁰F but also retain the hot water temperature for a longer duration of time due to their enhanced insulation properties. For these reasons, PEX pipes are used in radiant hydronic heating systems too.
2) Can I Connect PEX Pipes Directly To My Water Heater?
You cannot directly connect PEX tubes to your water heater device. A metal wire of at least 18 inches needs to be connected to the heated, and the PEX tube can be connected to that metal pipe.
This is because the metal fittings of your heater tend to be hotter than the water that comes out of it. The extreme temperature of those fitting when in direct connection with the PEX tubes may cause them to over-expand or get damaged.
3) Are PEX Pipes Better Than Copper Pipes?
In comparison to copper pipes, PEX tubes tend to be more sustainable, affordable, durable, affordable, flexible, easier to install, and resistant to leaks and corrosion.
PEX pipes also keep your water hot/cold longer thanks to their insulating properties and are lightweight. Since they come in multiple colors, you get to keep track of which pipe carries what more conveniently.
4) Can I Use PEX Tubes Outside?
Unfortunately, they are not suitable to be used outdoors as these tubes are sensitive to UV radiation. Exposure to direct sunlight and UV radiation will rapidly damage the tubes and make them lose their flexibility and durability.
Whether it’s for your bath or kitchen water supply, or for radiant hydronic heating systems, snow melting, etc, a well-put plumbing or tube system is crucial for safety, effectiveness, durability, and sustainability.
This is where PEX tubes come in to save the day, providing you with enhanced features and performance in comparison to other kinds of pipes.
Once chosen and installed right, PEX lifespan is supposed to last for decades seamlessly, making every penny invested worth it!
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