What Is the Best Type of Plumbing Pipe?

Surely, if you are building a new home or remodeling an existing home, you are buried under the weight of innumerable selection choices that must be made, everything from cabinets, countertops, carpet, tile, window treatments, etc. The very last thing that you probably want to spend time haggling over is the material used in your bathroom piping. Nevertheless, it just may be important to you and a choice that you wish to consider yourself, rather than just leaving it to the discretion of your contractor.

Believe it or not, plumbing systems have been around for thousands of years; the early Greeks used clay sewage pipes, the Roman had lead aqueducts and our early colonialists used hollowed out logs. Plumbing pipes today can be made from a variety of materials including several versatile plastic-types (PVC, CPVC, PEX) that have become useful throughout the world because of their lower cost and ease of installation. Their multitude of quick connecting fittings make almost any configuration possible. While they have become a popular replacement of copper, brass, steel, and old polybutylene pipe, they have some disadvantages, such as leakage or bursting when freezing. More traditional materials can have their own benefits, depending on the exact application.

All the available materials today for use in plumbing pipes (copper, plastics, brass, steel and concrete) have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. You can make a more appropriate and informed choice of the best materials for your plumbing project by working with your well informed local plumbing professional in narrowing down these choices, based on the specific needs of your individual project.

Advantages of PEX Plumbing

Do you need to repair or replace the hot or cold water supply lines in your Northern Virginia home?  Whether you plan to handle the job yourself or hire professional Northern Virginia plumbers, you should understand your options.  Two of the most common types of plumbing pipe in use today are PEX and copper piping.

Most homeowners are familiar with copper piping, but you may not have heard of PEX.  PEX is cross-linked polyethylene piping which means it is made out of plastic.  PEX has proven to be an excellent alternative to traditional copper piping for residential hot and cold water supply lines.

PEX can withstand hot and cold temperatures and, unlike copper, PEX can expand a little which means it is less likely to burst in below freezing temperatures.  PEX is flexible and easy to work with.  It can be bent around corners so fewer fittings are needed.  No soldering or messy glues are needed with PEX piping.

Connections and fittings are installed using a simple crimping tool.  For some homeowners, the cost of the specialized crimping tool is a disadvantage to PEX tubing.  Another disadvantage of PEX is that it cannot be installed outdoors.  Copper or PVC are good choices for outdoor potable water supply lines.

PEX is much less expensive than copper piping and is also less labor intensive.  Its ease of installation makes it a great choice for homeowner and plumbing professionals alike.   Many plumbers still prefer to use copper piping because they are familiar with it and have been working with it for years.  Copper is still an excellent choice, but don’t be surprised if your plumber recommends using PEX piping for your next plumbing repair.