There are a couple of choices available, and there are some significant differences between them. The two choices most commonly seen in plumbing today are PEX tubing and Copper piping. Each has pros and cons, so it all comes down to personal choice. To help in your decision making process, the advantages and drawbacks of each are listed below.
What is PEX pipe?
PEX is cross-linked polyethylene pipe. After several processes that the material must go through, it becomes durable for extreme temperatures (hot or cold), creep deformation which happens from long term exposure to stress, and chemical attack from acids, alkalis, and the like. All of this makes PEX an excellent piping substance for hot and cold water systems, especially since PEX is flexible and well adapted for temperatures below freezing all the way up to two hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
As mentioned above, PEX is a good plumbing material because it is flexible and that makes is easy to install. PEX is also resistant to breaks in cold weather, has fewer joints, and is easy to install bringing your costs down.
What about Copper?
Since we all know what copper piping is because it has been around for decades, we know that the metal is durable and flexible which makes it easy to install, especially compared to iron pipes. Copper piping also provides a biostatic atmosphere making bacteria difficult to grow inside of it; an important health decision.
Copper also resists corrosion and is unaffected by ultraviolet rays, unlike PEX that cannot be used outside, so that it can be used for outside uses. However, be aware that copper can corrode of the pH of the water is too acidic or too basic for the pipes. But just because it corrodes, doesn't mean that the water is bad for you. Try to think of it like this; the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. and, of course, Canada, has some of the best drinking water in the world but that very same water has a corrosive effect on the pipes.
Which is Better?
So the choice between PEX and Cooper is solely yours, but keep in mind a few of the advantages and disadvantages of choosing which system to install into your home or business.
Some advantages for PEX are:
1. Adaptable and easy to use plumbing system.
2. Can be used with hot and cold water.
3. Can also be used with metal and PVC piping.
4. PEX has fewer fittings making it faster to install and has less of a chance to leak.
5. PEX is more burst resistant due to its flexibility to expand and contract.
6. It has a shut off valve at each supply line making it more convenient for you when you have to get repairs done.
7. PEX can be a pressure balanced system.
8. Since it is flexible, the pipes can be bent around most corners and usually won't need a coupling or fitting.
PEX has some disadvantages that you should be aware of and they are:
1. It cannot be used outside.
2. Cannot be recycled due to its shorter life use.
3. It provides an impermeable membrane that can allow the possibility of contaminating your water.
4. The pipes may be damaged if left outside for a long period of time.
The advantages of copper are:
1. Durable and flexible making it easy to install.
2. Safer in natural disasters.
3. Weather and bacteria resistant.
4. Resists corrosion, more so than other metals.
5. Unaffected by ultraviolet rays so it can be used outside.
6. Copper in a fire, does not release toxic gases because it resists burning.
7. In earthquakes, pipes flex due to being slightly elastic so that they don’t snap causing more damage.
8. Copper is recyclable making it a more sound environmental choice.
Copper piping also has disadvantages that should be considered:
1. Can corrode.
2. Has become expensive.
3. At higher levels of copper from corrosion, the water can have a metallic taste.
4. It can also freeze and break during cold water.