When it comes to thinking about installing or replacing your plumbing, you probably get overwhelmed by the options. Even if you are doing a smaller job, it can quickly spiral out of control as you stand at the hardware store trying to determine the right materials, sizes, and shapes.
PEX plumbing is probably something you’ve heard of, but if you’re like many people, you don’t know much about it. Any choice you make is going to have pros and cons, but it’s important to know about the PEX plumbing disadvantages so you can make an informed decision.
What is PEX Plumbing?
PEX plumbing is cross-linked polyethylene, which is a type of plastic. PEX tubing or piping is used for water supply lines as well as radiant floor heating. There’s been a lot of debate over PEX for the last several years because PEX has a few downsides that you might not expect. Here are some of the PEX pipe problems you’ll want to know about before making any decisions:
PEX Plumbing Disadvantages
PEX may leach BPA and other toxic chemicals. There are 3 types of PEX (A, B, and C), but type B is the only one that doesn’t appear to have the leaching problem. The research is still incomplete on this matter, but if you want to use PEX, you may want to choose type B.
PEX is extremely sensitive to UV light. UV light doesn’t just mean sunlight, even the bulbs in your home are UV lights. Most manufacturers recommend a limited amount of sunlight exposure, which is important to note during the installation process, and others recommend total darkness.
PEX can be damaged by chemicals and pests. Some pest control companies argue against installing PEX because it’s so susceptible to pest damage. Since PEX is plastic, it’s more sensitive than copper and other metal pipes. Mice can chew right through the pipe, causing major problems. The thing to keep in mind though, is this is more of a rodent problem than a PEX problem.
PEX can’t be installed in high heat areas. You can’t install PEX in high heat areas like near recessed lighting. This also means you can’t connect PEX directly to a hot water heater, but you can use a connecting material to do this.
PEX is semi-permeable, which means liquid can enter the pipe. When it comes to safety, PEX isn’t antibacterial. This is one reason people don’t choose PEX in the PEX vs. copper decision. The plastic material also allows water to enter the tube, which could cause contamination.
It’s for some of these reasons, there have been some discussions of a PEX pipe recall, but nothing has come of it.