PEX plumbing, which stands for polyethylene cross-linked plumbing, is an alternative type of plumbing material that is made out of flexible plastic tubing. The flexibility of PEX pipes means that the installation process is a lot easier, and since they are made out of plastic, soldering and joining is unnecessary. However, besides these key features, there are several different types of PEX plumbing, each of which is suited for a different application and carries a distinctive set of advantages. Understanding the different types of PEX piping which are available can help you choose the one that best suits your project's needs.
Non-Oxygen Barrier PEX Pipes
Non-oxygen barrier PEX pipes are the most common type of PEX plumbing available, as they also tend to be the most affordable. They are ideal for most plumbing applications within your home, including carrying both drinking and hot water.
However, non-oxygen barrier PEX pipes need to be tied down after installation to ensure that they do not coil up, which makes the installation process slightly more complicated. Furthermore, as they do not block oxygen entering the pipes, they are not ideal for use with metal components, as they can cause oxidization.
Oxygen Barrier PEX Pipes
Oxygen barrier PEX pipes, like their name suggests, are specially coated to prevent oxygen from entering the water supply within your plumbing system. The main draw of this feature is that oxygen barrier PEX pipes can then be used with metal components, especially cast iron components and pipes, without worrying about oxidization developing. This also means that PEX pipes can be used for home heating systems without worrying about damaging the metal components of the heating systems, as is the case with radiant heating systems.
However, like non-oxygen barrier PEX pipes, oxygen barrier PEX pipes will return to their original coiled shape unless they are tied down after installation, which can make the installation process more involved. Furthermore, oxygen barrier PEX pipes are more expensive when compared to their non-oxygen barrier counterparts.
Aluminum Barrier PEX Pipes
Aluminum barrier PEX pipes have a thin layer of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of PEX plastic. This allows for this type of PEX pipe to retain its shape after installation, which significantly speeds up the process. Furthermore, aluminum provides a barrier that oxygen cannot pass through, conferring aluminum barrier PEX pipes with the same benefits as oxygen barrier PEX pipes and a higher degree of durability when compared to its other PEX counterparts.
However, aluminum barrier PEX pipes represent a much higher investment when compared to other types of PEX piping, which makes it less than ideal for contractors operating under a tight budget.
Contact a plumbing supplies company for more information.