Understanding the Differences Between PEX and PVC Pipes

Despite its numerous advancements, the plumbing industry still has its fair share of problems. Many of these have to do with installation and maintenance, and these problems persist to this day. Nevertheless, new technologies are being explored, including eliminating expensive copper pipes and developing weather-resistant PVCs.

PVC Pipes

 The Emergence of Plastic Pipes    

Plumbing specialists have long been concerned about sudden and extreme weather changes. According to professional plumbers in Denver, these sudden temperature changes can impact the performance of pipes, significantly reducing their life expectancy.

For this reason, copper pipes were initially considered the best plumbing material during the early years of modern plumbing. They can withstand harsh winter conditions and the scorching summer heat. The downside to copper pipes is that they’re pretty expensive. It is for this reason that cost-effective alternatives such as PVCs (Polyvinyl Chloride) and other plastic-based plumbing materials were developed.

Because PVCs are a lot cheaper than copper pipes, they quickly became a popular choice for many plumbers and homeowners. These plastic water pipes, however, have one drawback: they cannot handle hot water. These pipes can also freeze during cold seasons and will likely burst if placed under too much pressure.

 Characteristics of New Plastic Plumbing Pipes    

Today, there are several different plastic materials that can be used to make plumbing pipes. These include the following:

1. CPVC Pipes    

CPVC stands for Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride, a type of PVC pipe which, as the name implies, has been treated with chlorine. Because they can withstand high pressure and temperatures, CPVC pipes are frequently used in industrial settings.

These pipes can also be used in the home to carry drinking water and hot water lines. Obviously, they are more flexible than PVCs. However, since CPVC pipes are made with PVC fittings, they can burst if water that runs through them freezes during winter.

2. PVC Pipes    

PVC is the most common type of plastic water pipe among the many ones available. PVCs are typically used in residential homes as the main water pipe. They are often seen in the kitchen sink, shower drain lines, toilet drains, and several other fixtures.

PVC tubes are an excellent choice for water line installation projects because they are stronger and more durable than other plastic pipes. They can withstand high water pressure and are less prone to sediment buildup. However, many PVC pipes are small, making them unsuitable for large-scale water projects.  

3. PEX Pipes    

PEX pipes, also known as Cross-linked Polyethylene, are inexpensive plastic tubings that are easy to install when used as part of a water supply line design. The material has recently gained rapid popularity, even though PEX piping was first introduced to the market over 40 years ago. A typical PEX pipe is made from polyethylene that has been melted to a high density before being extruded into a tube.

What Is the Difference Between PEX and PVC?  

PVC and PEX are two of the most preferred pipes for various plumbing projects. Many believe that switching to PEX from PVC is worth it, even if it is only for current plumbing needs.

The two pipes share many similarities, but there are also differences between them. Below are three areas where PVC and PEX differ from one another.

1. Longevity    

PEX pipes are almost as durable as copper. Their lifespans range from 40 to 50 years. However, PVCs are more durable and can last up to 70 years if maintained well.

2. Accessibility    

PVCs can be found in almost every hardware store and are quite affordable. This is why they are popular with many homeowners. On the other hand, PEX-based piping materials can cost nearly as much as copper pipes.

3. Sustainability    

Many PVC components are recyclable. It means that even beyond the pipe’s expected life span, this can still be used for other purposes. PEX pipes are not as fortunate, although they are highly flexible. These pipes can be easily adjusted according to the desired shape or size.

This characteristic of PEX can be helpful when there are abrupt changes in the piping direction. It also makes them compatible with other types of pipes. Copper pipes are excellent examples of this, partly due to their corrosion-resistant cross-linked Polyethylene element.

Key Takeaway  

The plumbing industry has made many advances in recent years, resulting in the introduction of different types of pipes. While this can be good news for many, it can also prove to be problematic for some, especially when it comes to choosing suitable plumbing pipes for home or business use.

For the most part, however, it’s best to choose between PVCs and PEXs. These are two of the most preferred plumbing materials today because they have features not readily found in others, especially from old piping materials such as copper. It is also possible to have your water pipes switched from PVC to PEX, depending on the plumbing system currently installed in your home.

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