Copper Vs PEX Plumbing Pipes

PEX Plumbing Pipes vs Copper Plumbing Pipes

Many of our customers often ask about the various types of plumbing pipes that are available to them when looking to repipe, therefore I wanted to take some time and try to explain the differences between the two main options and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Almost all new plumbing pipes used today to replace old, rusty, and galvanized pipes are either Copper pipes or PEX pipes. Many homeowners do not know what Copper or PEX piping consists of, what each looks like, the cost of each, the benefits of each, and the drawbacks of each, until they are faced with a situation where they need to repipe a bathroom or often the whole plumbing system in their house. My goal is to provide enough information pertaining to Copper and PEX piping to ensure anyone done reading this post will have a fairly good idea of their options and can think about which one will meet their need the best. We do have specific pages on our site pertaining to PEX Piping and Copper Piping with all the details regarding each type of plumbing pipe, so if you have the time, please check those out to obtain further knowledge. I will start out by explaining a bit about PEX plumbing pipes, then move to copper plumbing pipes and end with some thoughts on the two and scenarios and reasons as to why you would pick one over the other.

PEX Plumbing Pipes

I’d like to start out by showing you a picture of what PEX piping actually looks like. You will notice that PEX piping is a very colorful and flexible material.

Plumbing with PEX Pipes
Plumbing with PEX Pipes

Besides being colorful and flexible, PEX pipes are also very durable, there is less chance of future leaks, they are quieter, resistant to extreme high and low temperatures, efficient, provide fast flowing water, can reduce your utility bills, are environmentally friendly, and last a lifetime! How could I have forgotten to mention…. Plumbing with PEX piping is also cost effective! Two reasons why Plumbing with PEX is cheaper than plumbing with copper is that the material is cheaper and it requires a lot less effort from Plumbers to implement a new plumbing system using PEX pipes. I want to share another photo of a PEX plumbing job we did recently. It was a new construction and I took a picture to share. Key things to look for: the flexibility of the PEX tubes, the joints, and how the PEX tubes are secured (secured to floor joists every 36 inches or less.)

Repiping with PEX Plumbing Pipes
PEX Plumbing Pipes

You should now have some knowledge regarding Plumbing with PEX pipes, so I will explain a bit about Plumbing with Copper Pipes.

Copper Plumbing Pipes

Again, to start out, I’d like to show you a picture of Copper plumbing pipes. I took this picture during a recent new construction project using copper pipes. In the image you can also see the drain plumbing done with ABS pipes. Key things to look for in the image are the rigidness of the Copper Pipes, the metallic color, and the joints.

Plumbing with Copper Pipes
Copper Plumbing Pipes

Right away, you should notice the physical differences between copper pipes and PEX pipes. Of course the physical difference is only a part of it, so I will share some of the advantages of repiping with Copper Pipes. Copper Plumbing pipes are very durable (lasting over a hundred years), are weather resistant (can be used outside of the house as well as the inside), are corrosion resistant, and will not burn in case of fire. Two important items that I want to cover separately are cost and the fact that copper plumbing pipes can be recycled. Copper pipes are more expensive than PEX pipes merely because the copper material itself is more expensive. Installing a New Copper Plumbing System is also more expensive as it’s more difficult and requires expertise and experience to ensure a solid long lasting outcome. As far as copper piping being recyclable, it is really not an advantage for two main reasons; one, once installed, you will not need to replace them for decades, possibly centuries and two, we've had various people contact us for a New PEX Plumbing System because their copper pipes were stolen and they did not want that to happen again. Thieves merely cut the copper pipes and recycle them for money. To sum it up, Plumbing with Copper Pipes is more expensive up front, but with a 50 year manufacture warranty, will last a lifetime. You should now have a general idea pertaining to Plumbing with Copper Piping and Plumbing with PEX Piping.

I've tried to share the overall advantages of the two main forms of plumbing pipes used by plumbers today in both residential and commercial plumbing work, as there is a lot of detail that I've left out. Again, if you’re interested in learning more about the two, please ensure to take a look at our PEX Piping and Copper Piping information pages.

Last but not least, I’d like to provide you with a very valuable and informative chart that I've created, showing the advantages and disadvantages of Copper Plumbing Pipes and PEX Plumbing Pipes.

Copper Plumbing Pipes Vs PEX Plumbing Pipes
Copper Plumbing Pipes PEX Plumbing Pipes
Repiping Advantages
Easy To Install X
Low Material Cost X
Quiet X X
Quieter X
Simple Design X
Less Chance of Leaks X
Fewer Fittings X
Efficient X
Extreme Temperature Resistant X
Clean X X
Fast Flowing Water X X
Reduced Utility Bill X X
Environment Friendly X X
Manufacture Warranty 50 Years 25 Years
Care Plumbing Inc. Guarantee Lifetime Lifetime
Used Inside the House X X
Used Outside the House X
Fire Resistant X
Recyclable X
Bacteria Resistant X
Corrosion Resistant X
Theft Friendly X
 
Repiping Disadvantages
Corrosion Possibility X
Metallic Taste Possibility X
Can Freeze and Break X

This list should give you a fairly good idea of what each type of pipe consist of and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of plumbing pipe. Please feel free to Contact Us if you have any questions pertaining to any of the items listed or if you’d like another important item to be added to the list that I may have missed.

Why chose PEX Plumbing Pipes or Copper Plumbing Pipes?

  • If you live in Freezing Cold Temperatures, PEX should most likely be your choice
  • If you live in an area where Copper theft is a possibility, PEX should most likely be your choice
  • If you are looking for a longer term solution, a New Copper Plumbing system will be your choice
  • If you are looking for a cheaper solution, a New PEX Plumbing system should be your choice
  • If you need to use a plumbing system outside of the house, Copper Piping should be the choice
  • Now that you have gained a great deal of knowledge pertaining to both PEX Plumbing Pipes and Copper Plumbing Pipes, the big question of which Plumbing Pipes are best for your plumbing need can be better answered. I wish all of you the best of luck in your plumbing ventures and please do not hesitate to Contact Us with questions if you need further explanation of each of the two Plumbing Pipe options.

    -John

    Leaking Water Pipes – Cause Damage

    Leaking Water Piping Damage
    Leaking Water Piping Damage
    I came across a house that had major water damage from leaking pipes. The house had old galvanized pipes that had started leaking. The owners had no idea that this was happening within their walls. They contacted us to take a look at their low water pressure issue. After investigating the problem, we were able to identify that they had major leaks in numerous places in their plumbing system. Unfortunately this problem must have existed for a long time since they had major damage to the wood of the sub flooring.

    I wanted to share this with everyone in an effort to inform you of the importance of having a solid plumbing system. You should fix your issues as quickly as possible to avoid damage that's unnecessary.

    Leaking Water Pipes Damage
    Leaking Water Pipes Damage
    Many of our customers often ask how they can know if they have leaking pipes if they don't see them. My recommendation is that if your plumbing system has old galvanized pipes, always contact a professional if you have any concerns and on a periodic basis. Many repiping specialists (including us) will come out to your house or business, assess the situation, and provide valuable feedback regarding the state of your piping system. Water leaks are generally identified by home owners when they have low water pressure or when they notice water damage. Unfortunately, often times the issue is identified too late and the leaking water from the pipes has already caused a lot of damage to the house. Home owners generally do not go under the house nor have special tools to monitor, analyze, and detect leaks and plumbing problems with their old galvanized piping systems, therefore I would recommend getting a professional to check things out on a regular basis. We visit our doctors regularly to ensure we solve the small health problems before they grow into something bigger and the same care should be taken with our plumbing system. My suggestion is to get a regular checkup as often as you'd like to ensure a peace of mind. I'd love to hear your feedback and questions regarding this topic.

    -John

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    -John