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Honey Do List: PEX pipe

Crosslinked polyethelene (PEX) is the new kid in town and is quickly changing plumbing as we know it.

Copper, polybutylene, PVC and CPVC are all being replaced by PEX, and for many good reasons, including flexibility, ease of installation and durability.

You may have noticed the red, white and blue pipe on the shelves of the local hardware store. No, they aren’t trying to be patriotic. The assorted colors give the installer the ability to color-code the plumbing pipe. Commonly, red is for hot water, blue is for cold, and white may be used for incoming water lines to the house. There is no other difference in the colors.

Pex is available in different lengths from five feet to 100 feet or more. The flexibility of this product allows it to be sold in a roll. The longer lengths lessen the number of connections, and the flexibility greatly reduces the number of elbows needed. Using PEX can result in about 40 percent fewer connections, and that equals 40 percent less potential leaks.

PEX eliminates the mess of glue. Connections are made using a crimp ring and crimpers, or “push-fit” connectors such as “Shark-bite.”

PEX is much less likely to burst when the water freezes. Any water-carrying pipe that is exposed to cold temps should be insulated. PEX can be insulated using foam sleeves just like any other pipe. The flexibility of the pipe gives it a hedge against copper, PVC or galvanized when it comes to freezing.

PEX is also less corrosive than other common pipe. Minerals and chlorine don’t wear through like they can in copper and PVC.

Is PEX the perfect plumbing solution? No, not by a long shot. But, if properly installed, it will last longer than anything else out there. Plus, it’s quicker, easier and cheaper to install.

Next week, we’ll discuss “Shark-bite” fittings. Remember, help is just around the corner at your local hardware store.

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