Which PEX Is Best? Choosing the Right Type of Tubing for Any Job (2023)

Which PEX Is Best? Choosing the Right Type of Tubing for Any Job (1)

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This article has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

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Polyethylene cross-linked tubing, better known as PEX, is a fine addition to the industrious do-it-yourself plumber’s arsenal. Inexpensive to buy and surprisingly versatile, PEX is also relatively easy to install. Nocomplex soldering or messy gluing is required, and the tubing can be easily “fished” through walls and around corners—try that with copper or PVC pipe!

More than 20 different types of PEX are on the market, each suited to a specific plumbing or heating job, so knowing which PEX product to pick for your project is important.

Which PEX Is Best? Choosing the Right Type of Tubing for Any Job (2)

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Types of PEX

NON-OYGEN BARRIER PEX

Most plumbing applications, especially those involving potable water, call for the use of non-oxygen barrier PEX, offeredin several grades.

  • PEX-A, which has the most flexible tubing and best freeze- and kink resistance, is ideal for use with kitchen and bath fixtures.
  • PEX-B is slightly less flexible and less freeze-resistant.

Both types of tubing come in three colors—red, white, and blue—in diameters ranging from 1/4-inch to 3 inches. For indoor plumbing, the most common PEX tubing is one half-inch, which boasts a higher flow rate than copper pipe of the same size.

For outdoor applications, “sleeved” versions of non-oxygen barrier PEX are readily available.

Which PEX Is Best? Choosing the Right Type of Tubing for Any Job (3)

(Video) PEX A vs PEX B: Pros and Cons 🤔

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OXYGEN BARRIER PEX

Since oxygen cancause many heating system components to rust and corrode, baseboard or radiant heating applications require the use ofoxygen barrier PEX, offered in grades of PEX-A and PEX-B.The 1/2-inch size is most commonly used; 3/8-, 5/8- and 3/4-inch sizes are also available.

ALUMINUM BARRIER PEX

Also known as PEX-AL-PEX, aluminum barrier PEX is three-layertubing that consists of a layer of PEX, a layer of aluminum, and another layer of PEX. Its primary benefit is that once bent, PEX-AL-PEX holds its shape and doesn’t need to be tied down every few feet.

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The aluminum layer doubles as an oxygen barrier, which in concert with its lower expansion rate, makes PEX-AL-PEX suitable for use in outdoor, warmboard, or high-temperature heating systems.

Which PEX Is Best? Choosing the Right Type of Tubing for Any Job (4)

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PEX Fittings and More

Once you’ve determined which type of PEX tubing you need, you will need to choose the fittings. The easiest to use are brasspush-fit fittings, which simply “bite” into the tubing. Other types of fittings used with PEX are crimp, clamp, press andcompression, any of which are less expensive but require specialized tools.

(Video) Different types of Pex tubing

Online retailer Supplyhouse.com sells a widevariety of PEX tubing, fittings, and tools.

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FAQs

Is type A or B PEX better? ›

Flexibility - PEX-A is the most flexible, allowing for it to be fastened by cold expansion, which allows the end to be fluted prior to inserting the fitting. PEX B is not expandable and you should never expand the end of a PEX-B pipe. Kink-Resistance - PEX-A has the greatest resistance, PEX-B the lowest.

What is the most commonly used PEX fitting? ›

Crimp style fittings are the most common and affordable type of PEX fittings and can be found in majority of supply houses, home improvement stores and online stores. Brass PEX crimp fittings are manufactured to ASTM F1807 standard.

What is the difference between PEX A and PEX B and PEX C? ›

PEX A is made using the Peroxide, or Engel, method. PEX B is formed using Silane, or Moisture Cure, method. This is the most common PEX pipe type out there. PEX C is created using the Electronic Irradiation, or Cold, method of cross-linking.

Do professional plumbers use PEX? ›

Most plumbers prefer to work with pex pipes for this reason. These pipes come in a variety of sizes, from ¼-inch to 4-inch. The flexible pipes are constructed from polyethylene that is cross-linked to make it flexible.

Is PEX expansion or crimp better? ›

PEX crimp equipment is a lot more affordable than the expansion kits. However, despite the pricing and form shortcomings, most plumbers prefer to work with expansion because installation is more efficient. There are fewer leaks, and it also seems to be more durable against extreme colds and frozen pipes, etc.

What is the most reliable PEX connection? ›

The most common connection method used in PEX installation is the “Crimp” method. This process involves sliding a ribbed fitting into the PEX tube and crimping a seal ring around the connection point. These rings are typically made of copper, but may be found in plastic as well as brass.

Why do PEX fittings fail? ›

The leaching of zinc also makes the fittings weaker, resulting in dezincification. In PEX pipes, the zinc build-up can cause your kitchen and bathroom fixtures to clog. It also causes fittings to crack or break, leaking water within your walls or underneath your house.

Which is better PEX A or PEX C? ›

One of the most apparent differences is that PEX A is very flexible and doesn't show any coil memory. So, as a user, you can repair any kinks simply with a heat gun. On the other PEX C is manufactured via the Electronic irradiation or cold method of cross-linking. PEX C is also more vulnerable to kinks and damage.

What is the difference between white blue and red PEX pipe? ›

There are no performance differences between red, white, blue and white PEX and all are intended for use in potable water systems. The colors can be used to easily distinguish between hot and cold distribution lines.

Is PEX A or B more common? ›

A silane process, or steam or moisture cross-linking, is used to form PEX B pipe once the HDPE is extruded. The product is passed through steam. Meanwhile, a silane catalyst triggers cross-linking. PEX B is the most common PEX pipe.

What size PEX is used for main water line? ›

PEX is available in 3/8- to 1-inch diameters. It's a good idea to install 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch PEX for your main lines for adequate water flow. When replacing old water supply lines with PEX the standard is to use the same size plumbing, although you can transition from 3/4-inch to 1/2-inch plumbing with an adapter.

Can I use blue PEX for hot water? ›

Color-Coded: Red PEX pipes can be used for hot water supply lines, blue PEX for cold water supply, and white for either hot or cold. These colors are just for your convenience. Plumbing code does not require the pipe color to match the type of water supply.

What is Type C PEX used for? ›

While PEX-C may be suitable for hydronic and radiant heating use, it offers little practical advantage over the other two types for hot and cold-water plumbing.

How long will PEX tubing last? ›

PEX: Due to its flexibility and durability, PEX piping should last at least 50 years. PVC / CPVC: Under typical conditions, these pipes should last up to 100 years. Keep in mind that PVC pipes are often used for drainage because extreme heat can damage them.

Can mice chew through PEX pipe? ›

PEX Pipe Is Vulnerable

Rodents Chewing Through PEX Pipe is a common problem in our area. It doesn't matter how old your home is, if you have an attic, you need to watch for rodent damage to PEX Pipe or PVC. If you're hearing rustling noises coming from the attic, it's time to do an inspection.

Where should you not use PEX? ›

PEX cannot be taken anywhere outside the house where it is directly exposed to UV for a long period. The synthetic material of the pipes can slowly disintegrate due to the light of the sun. Even light bulbs have been known to affect the lifespan of PEX water lines.

Can bacteria grow in PEX pipe? ›

PEX pipe showed a higher growth of coliform bacteria than copper pipe [42]. The levels of released metal from plastic pipes were monitored in five pipe systems, PB, PVC, PP, PE, and cPVC.

Is it better to bend PEX or use fittings? ›

1. Use PEX bend supports instead of elbows. Bend support allows to make a 90-degree turn with PEX tubing without the need for a fitting.

What is the best brand of PEX pipe? ›

List of The Top 10 Safest PEX Brand
  1. Apollo. Initially founded in 1928, this brand specializes in various pipes and fittings and has made its way to becoming a top choice in PEX pipes too. ...
  2. EverHot. ...
  3. Nibco. ...
  4. Rehau. ...
  5. Mr. ...
  6. Sioux Chief. ...
  7. SharkBite. ...
  8. Viega.
Aug 19, 2022

What is better than PEX? ›

CPVC is More Effective at Maintaining Water Quality than PEX

Three factors affect a plumbing material's ability to maintain water quality: Biofilm Growth Potential: Biofilms, including Legionella and other harmful bacteria, can grow inside residential water pipes.

Are SharkBite PEX fittings reliable? ›

SharkBites work better than plastic quick-connects on copper pipes because the lead-free brass body is rigid like the pipe and has a higher pressure tolerance. If you need to repair or replace copper plumbing in your home, a SharkBite fitting is an excellent choice.

How likely is it for PEX to burst? ›

It has also been overtaking copper and CPVC because of its flexibility compared to copper and although PEX might freeze, unlike PVC, it would not burst.

Does PEX get brittle over time? ›

Like most other plastics, PEX will become brittle if exposed to sunlight for too long and may crack under pressure. Typical exposure limit is ~30 days.

Why does my PEX pipe keep leaking? ›

As with any other pipes, PEX is not prone to leaking. Nearly all of the plumbing leaks occur at joints (connection spots) and most of them are due to incorrect installation. Much like installing PEX tubing, repairing it is also an easy process.

What is the best pipe for main water line? ›

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes remain popular among plumbers and homeowners alike because they are corrosion-resistant and best suited to protect the quality of the water. Copper pipes are able to handle high water pressure and are tolerant of both hot and cold water temperatures.

Is PEX less likely to burst? ›

Thankfully, PEX pipes' ability to expand and resist breakage is a huge advantage compared to metal pipes, which could easily burst from drastic changes in temperature.

Can I use SharkBite on PEX A? ›

SharkBite push-to-connect fittings are compatible with a variety of pipe types including PEX, copper, CPVC, PE-RT and SDR-9 HDPE.

How do you bend PEX without kinking? ›

Bend PEX With a Bend Support
  1. Warm the PEX Tube. Though PEX tubing bends well, it can crimp if it is bent improperly. ...
  2. Push Into One Side of the Bend Support. Push the PEX tubing into one side of the bend support. ...
  3. Bend the PEX Tubing. ...
  4. Push Into Other Side of the Bend Support.
Apr 28, 2022

Can I use white PEX for hot and cold? ›

White PEX pipe can be used for either hot or cold water. Gray PEX pipe, like white, can be used for either hot or cold water (although not all DIY centers carry gray).

What size PEX should I run in my house? ›

You can opt for a ⅜-inch line for lengths up to 250 feet. If you want to adequate water pressure up to 350 feet, opt for a ½-inch line. A 500-foot line will work better with a ¾-inch PEX tubing system.

Is SharkBite PEX-A or B? ›

SharkBite PEX-B is a cross-linked polyethylene tubing designed for use in residential and commercial plumbing applications.

Is Blue PEX-A or B? ›

Cross-linked polyethylene pipe approved for use in residential and commercial installations.

How can you tell PEX-B from PEX? ›

How to identify PEX pipe
  1. Check the label. If you look closely at the pipe, you will see information printed on the side. ...
  2. The second way is to identify the style of fittings. PEX-B will have metal rings — either cramp or clamp — whereas the PEX-A uses an expansion ring made out of PEX or a similar material.
Apr 5, 2021

How deep should PEX water be? ›

If using a PEX pipe underground, bury it at least 12 to 18 inches below the frost line.

How many fixtures can 3 4 PEX supply? ›

For our example, our 1-inch pipe can have up to 30 fixture units, our 3/4-inch can have up to 14, and our 1/2-inch can have up to 4.

What size PEX to use for shower? ›

Water Pressure

Other fixtures that benefit from 1/2-inch lines are washing machines and dishwashers. Sinks and showers are water guzzlers, and you can conserve by running 3/8-inch lines to them. Because the rate at which a commode tank refills is usually not important, it's okay to run 3/8-inch line there as well.

Does PEX need to be sleeved? ›

Use sleeving over PEX where it runs through an expansion joint/crack. A b, crack-resistant poly piping is preferred and should cover (sleeve over) the PEX pipe at least 1-1.5ft on both sides of the joint. For 1/2" or 5/8" PEX, 3-4ft long pieces of 1" PEX can be used for sleeving.

Can PEX handle boiling water? ›

PEX is totally great at handling hot water! PEX does not melt (analogous to elastomers) and is thermally resistant. The maximum heat temperature of the PEX tube is 200 degrees. The maximum heat of the PEX can be up to 180 degrees.

Is oxygen barrier PEX necessary? ›

Oxygen Barrier PEX is used when installing in a closed or pressurized system. It is NOT necessary with an 'open" type system.

Can PEX A be used with PEX B fittings? ›

Can any PEX fittings be used with PEX-A or PEX-B pipe? Apollo PEX-A (Expansion PEX) pipe can be used with Apollo PEX-A or Apollo PEX-B fittings, brass and poly alloy. Apollo PEX-B pipe cannot be used with PEX-A fittings.

Is PEX B better than copper? ›

PEX pipe is not only cheaper than copper but more durable too. PEX is immune to corrosion and mineral build-up, and it's not affected by electrolysis, which can cause small pinhole leaks in copper piping. Copper pipes can last anywhere from six months to the life of a building.

What is difference between PEX A and PEX B? ›

Flexibility - PEX-A is the most flexible, allowing for it to be fastened by cold expansion, which allows the end to be fluted prior to inserting the fitting. PEX B is not expandable and you should never expand the end of a PEX-B pipe. Kink-Resistance - PEX-A has the greatest resistance, PEX-B the lowest.

Should you insulate PEX tubing? ›

The general rule of thumb: you do not need to insulate your PEX piping if it is passing through interior walls or insulated external walls. However, if you reside in a region with cold winters, you should insulate any exposed pipe that is outside or inside of unheated places like a basement, crawl space, or attic.

Will PEX tubing freeze and burst? ›

Don't Believe the Myth of Freeze-Proof Pipes

Whether you're working with copper, CPVC or PEX – you are not automatically protected from frozen and burst pipes. All of these materials can and will burst when frozen, under the right conditions.

Is PEX-A or B more common? ›

A silane process, or steam or moisture cross-linking, is used to form PEX B pipe once the HDPE is extruded. The product is passed through steam. Meanwhile, a silane catalyst triggers cross-linking. PEX B is the most common PEX pipe.

Can I use PEX-A on PEX B fittings? ›

Can any PEX fittings be used with PEX-A or PEX-B pipe? Apollo PEX-A (Expansion PEX) pipe can be used with Apollo PEX-A or Apollo PEX-B fittings, brass and poly alloy. Apollo PEX-B pipe cannot be used with PEX-A fittings.

How long does PEX type A last? ›

PEX: Due to its flexibility and durability, PEX piping should last at least 50 years. PVC / CPVC: Under typical conditions, these pipes should last up to 100 years.

Is SharkBite PEX type A or b? ›

SharkBite non oxygen barrier pipe is manufacture as PEX-B and SharkBite oxygen barrier pipe is manufactured as PEX-C.

What is the most common PEX size? ›

As for the diameter, PEX tubes range from 3/9-inch to 1-inch (only for residential applications). Your Lakewood repiping plumber will probably recommend installing ½-inch or ¾-inch PEX for main lines, especially if you want to keep adequate water flow.

What size PEX B should I use? ›

PEX is available in 3/8- to 1-inch diameters. It's a good idea to install 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch PEX for your main lines for adequate water flow. When replacing old water supply lines with PEX the standard is to use the same size plumbing, although you can transition from 3/4-inch to 1/2-inch plumbing with an adapter.

Do mice eat PEX? ›

Mice and rats will chew through anything they can, including plastic, so PEX tubing is at just as much risk as the plastic-coated wiring in a car or an HVAC unit. While all rodent damage can be expensive, if rodents chew through a home's PEX water pipes, the result can be disastrous.

Why are plumbers against SharkBite fittings? ›

Sharkbites are approved for use underground and behind walls, but installing them there could be risky. In both places, the fitting would be out of site. You would have no way of knowing if it were to start leaking. A SharkBite fitting contains a rubber O-ring, which is not best for permanent connections.

Do plumbers use Sharkbites? ›

Sharkbite fittings are push-to-connects for plumbing fittings. Recently, many plumbers have gone from pulling out their solder torch and welding copper pipe together to pushing a SharkBite fitting onto a pipe. SharkBite fittings save time, they're easy to install, and they're reliable.

Is Blue PEX OK for hot water? ›

Color-Coded: Red PEX pipes can be used for hot water supply lines, blue PEX for cold water supply, and white for either hot or cold. These colors are just for your convenience. Plumbing code does not require the pipe color to match the type of water supply.

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