Should You Choose a PEX or Copper Repipe?
If your plumbing system needs updating, you are likely to face the choice between a PEX or copper repipe. For many homeowners in the San Fernando Valley and the greater Los Angeles area, the main difference between these two materials is the cost, but before you make a decision, you should be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages associated with each option.
The PEX Basics
PEX pipes are the easiest to spot in your home, as they are very colorful. These flexible, durable pipes are designed to reduce the risk of leaks and are resistant to temperature extremes. PEX piping can also offer a fast water flow and reduce your utility bills due to their efficiency. Repiping with PEX tends to be cheaper compared to copper as the materials used to make PEX cost less and plumbing with PEX is quicker and easier, reducing labor costs.
The Copper Basics
Copper is a very durable material for plumbing applications and is considered the gold standard. High quality copper pipes can last more than a hundred years, and they can be used both for indoor and outdoor applications since they are weather resistant.
Copper pipes will not burn in case of a house fire, and they are resistant to corrosion. Unfortunately, since copper is a more expensive material, this is likely to be reflected in your refit quote. Additionally, installing copper pipes requires real plumbing experience and expertise, so you are likely to pay more for labor. Some owners may consider a copper repipe for the recycle potential in the future, but this should not really be a factor. Since you can anticipate that a new copper repipe may last as long as you live in the house, you won’t be ripping out the copper for recycling anytime soon. In fact, many manufacturers offer a fifty year warranty, so you won’t need to worry about your copper piping for the rest of your life.
Copper vs. PEX
Both materials have their own particular advantages. Choosing between copper and PEX will depend on a number of factors. PEX piping is flexible and requires fewer fittings and connections. This means that the installation will require fewer wall openings and there will be less chance of leaks. PEX is also resistant to chlorine and scale, which may be a factor in certain areas of the country with a hard, chlorinated water supply. It is also resistant to cracking at extreme temperatures, which could be a factor if your winter temperatures frequently fall below freezing. Here in Los Angeles it never get that cold, so that is a non-issue.
On the other hand, copper is considered to be the standard of high quality plumbing. Although it costs more than PEX, copper has delivered a consistent plumbing performance for hundreds of years. When a copper repipe is completed correctly, you should have decades of problem free performance.
Before you decide between copper and PEX, you will need to consider the type of water in your area, the structure of your home and its construction. These factors will provide a good indication as to which material is the right choice for your home. Although cost is likely to be a factor, it is worth speaking to a professional repiping plumbing specialist to assess the benefits and make an informed choice.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solutions.