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Not all PEX is Created Equal

Posted on 16 November 2020

PEX tubing is a staple in any residential home these days, used not only because it's a proven and reliable plumbing material, but because it's also cost-efficient. PEX is also easily accessible, found at any hardware or plumbing supply store. But before you run out and buy PEX tubing to work on your own plumbing DIY project, realize that not all PEX is created equal! Different PEX standards are used for different types of plumbing, and it's important to know which is suited for what.

What is PEX tubing?

PEX stands for Poly Ethelene X-Linked tubing. It's meant to be a direct replacement for copper pipe where cost or installation logistics don't accommodate copper. PEX is rated to handle most hot and cold potable water applications, and usually comes in red, blue and white/clear colors to distinguish hot, cold and neutral water systems.

Get to know the three PEX classes

As with most plumbing supplies, PEX tubing falls into different categories depending on how it's made and the conditions it's rated to stand up to. The three core classes for PEX are PEX-A, PEX-B and PEX-C. Here's a look at what they're used for and why they're rated different:

  • PEX-A: This is the most common type of PEX, made using the Engle Method of cross-linking polyethylene. It's flexible and has the ability to recover its shape through the application of heat. It's also compatible with expansion-style fittings, whereas PEX-B and PEX-C aren't.
  • PEX-B: This type of PEX tubing is formed using the Silane method, where the polyethylene is cross-linked after the tubing is extruded. The result is tubing that's more rigid and durable.
  • PEX-C: This last type of PEX tubing comes from the irradiation method of cross-linking polyethylene, which relies on beamed electrons to complete the tubing. PEX-C is usually interchangeable with PEX-B.

In addition to these core classifications for PEX tubing, there are also variants like PEX-AL-PEX, which features an aluminum sheathing layer for extra rigidity and easier connection to copper joints and fitments. Similarly, some PEX is made specially for radiant heating applications and features an oxygen barrier to prevent corrosive buildups.

Which PEX is right for your project?

The truth is, most PEX tubing is interchangeable unless you're working on a specialty project. The real difference between PEX-A and PEX-B or PEX-C is the strength of the molecular makeup. PEX-A is stronger and more flexible, while PEX-B is more cost efficient and affordable.

If you're looking for high flexibility and the ability to repair kinks in the tubing, PEX-A is for you. If you need a higher burst rating and resistance to oxidation, PEX-B is the better option. If you're working on a radiant heat application, PEX-C might be the best option.

Don't forget, you can always consult with a plumber if you're not sure about which class of PEX is right for the project at-hand. Even better, contact an experienced plumber from PipeMasters today: info@pipemasters.ca or (289) 404-9063 to handle your plumbing project and know you're getting the best PEX installation for the job!

PipeMasters is part of Oakridge Plumbing Ontario Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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