Recently updated on July 28th, 2022
Have you wanted to replace your bathroom sink pipes but didn’t know what type of pipe to choose or how to change it? If your answer was yes, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we will walk you through a ton of information on PEX pipes. We’ll take you through what they are, how long they last, whether they are better than copper, and how to install them in your bathroom.
While doing plumbing-related tasks by yourself can feel intimidating and stressful, we’re here to tell you that it is easier than you think!
Now, let’s take a closer look.
What Is PEX Plumbing?
The PEX in PEX piping stands for cross-linked polyethylene. It is a type of flexible plastic that is gaining more and more popularity these days in plumbing. Many homeowners and plumbers alike are starting to use PEX piping in their plumbing and, in the process of doing so, are replacing galvanized steel and copper lines.
This type of piping is much more flexible than steel or copper and has been invented with “memory” technology, which means that it can alter itself into its original shape if you let it. If you haven’t used PEX piping before, it would be best if you bought it in pieces instead of coils. Buying it in pieces means that it is easy to work with, and you won’t have to wrestle with it! While we admit that buying this type of piping in pieces is more expensive, it will make life easier for you in the long run because it means you can do a better plumbing job on your own.
PEX piping is sold in various diameters and lengths. If you don’t want to buy it as a coil, you can purchase single pieces that are each ten feet long.
Is PEX pipe good for plumbing?
Yes, it is. PEX piping is good for plumbing because its flexibility allows you to use a single pipe to connect your water supply to your sink or shower. Since copper and steel pipes are hard and inflexible, you will need to install multiple pipes at varied angles to connect them to a water supply, leading to pipe leaks over time or even bursts. However, PEX piping allows you to manipulate a single pipe into different angles throughout your home.
When installing PEX pipes in your home, it would be best to install two pipes, one for hot and cold water.
Is PEX safe for drinking water?
The answer to this question is uncertain because researchers and scientists have not conducted enough research to provide consumers with a concrete answer.
They have tested PEX pipes from several different brands, and early stages of research have shown that the taste of water differs depending on the brand making these pipes. Some studies have discovered that some of the studied PEX pipe brands contained over 100 different contaminants.
A study in 2021 shows that after testing water from seven PEX pipe brands, researchers discovered more than 60 chemicals in the water, most of which were harmful to the body if consumed.
Therefore, answering whether PEX pipes are safe for drinking water isn’t easy. Research still has a long way to go. We recommend proceeding with caution and refraining from drinking water from your sink after installing the pipes until you are confident that the water is safe.
How to install PEX pipe to bathroom sink?
Give below is a list of materials and instructions to help you install a PEX pipe to a bathroom sink. Please read through all the instructions carefully to familiarize yourself with the installation process. We will break the steps into bullet points to make them as simple as possible to understand.
These are the materials you will need:
- A crimping tool
- A measuring tape
- PEX pipe pieces
- A pipe cutter
- Crimp rings
- A wrench
Here’s the step by step processing of attaching a PEX pipe to your bathroom sink:
- First, you will need to switch off the main water supply in your home. Ensure that you haven’t left your washing machine running or need to use the toilet because you will cut off the water supply to your entire home.
- Next, carefully measure the pieces of the PEX pipe, taking care to record the distance from the water supply pipes to the bathroom sink. To be safe, add at least five extra inches to both ends of the PEX pipe. By doing this, you’re allowing yourself the chance to manipulate the piping if needed.
- Once you’ve measured the length of piping needed, the next step is to cut the pieces of the PEX pipe. You can do this by using a pipe cutter. Please make sure that you cut the piece evenly and straight, taking care not to cut the pipe at an angle. Cutting the pipe at an angle could result in loose crimping and poor sealing when connected to the water supply.
- After carefully cutting the length of piping that you need, the next step is to put a crimp ring on either end of the pipe that you’ve cut.
- Hold your crimping tool and use it to fasten the PEX pipe firmly in place when each ring is in place. Ensure that you compress the ring properly to prevent leaks from occuring in the future.
- Next, you need to connect the PEX with the faucet. To do this, you will need to firmly fix the faucet connectors onto the stems of the faucet. If your home’s plumbing system is color-coded, ensure that you connect the correct PEX pipes to the correct water supply connections! Use your wrench to tighten the connection, but make sure that you do not tighten it too much. Overtightening the connection could lead to major plumbing problems in the future.
- Now that you’ve attached the PEX pipes to the water connection, the final step is to confirm if the water is flowing as it should. You must also test the pipes for leaks under the bathroom sink.
Where is PEX not allowed?
You must not use PEX pipes in areas exposed to high amounts of heat, including in the regions of your home that receive direct sunlight. This is because PEX pipes do not react well to UV rays, even from light bulbs. Therefore, you must ensure that when you use PEX pipes, you will use them in entirely dark places.
PEX pipes used to be banned in the state of California because experts believed that the permeable nature of the pipes allowed toxic chemicals to seep into the water. However, after conducting enough research, PEX pipes are no longer banned in the United States of America.
Can I use PEX for the kitchen sink?
Yes, you can. Since PEX pipes are known for their flexibility, you can use them for your kitchen sink by directly connecting them to the shutoff valve. However, if you’re unsure about how to connect your PEX pipe to the kitchen sink, please consult a plumber and hire a team of professionals to do it for you.
Also Read: Easy Ways to Unclog a Double Kitchen Sink with Standing Water
Can PEX be used for the drainpipe?
No, PEX pipes cannot be used for the drainpipe. Even though these pipes are long-lasting, durable, and rust-proof, they generally supply water to a bathroom or kitchen sink. They are not suitable for drainage because they do not react well to heat. Therefore, if you use PEX pipes for draining, it is likely that they will get damaged over time due to being exposed to excessive heat.
Can You Use PEX For A Shower Valve?
Yes, you can use PEX for a shower valve. All you need to do is make sure that before crimping the PEX water line, you take care to tighten the fittings. Since installing a PEX pipe to a shower valve differs from installing it onto a bathroom sink, we highly recommend hiring a plumbing service or doing thorough research before using a PEX pipe in your shower. It is also worth remembering that depending on the brand of PEX that you use, you might need a plastic bracket at a 90-degree angle. The bracket will help you install the PEX pipe properly.
What is the life expectancy of PEX plumbing?
If you’ve wanted to update your home’s plumbing system for a long time but didn’t know if PEX piping would be the right choice, we’re here to tell you that PEX plumbing lasts anywhere from 25 to 40 years.
What is the difference between PEX A and PEX B?
Before we explore the differences between PEX A and PEX B, we first must look at these two pipes.
At face value, PEX A, B, and C pipes are all quite similar in terms of the function they perform and how you use them. We mentioned in our introduction that PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene. Therefore, the letter following the word PEX refers to the method used to manufacture these pipes and cross-link the polyethylene, which makes them different from one another. While many believe that A, B, and C refer to a system of grading PEX, that myth is not valid.
Here’s a quick look at the differences:
Manufacturers use the Engel method to make PEX A pipes. This means that before they form the pipes, they incorporate peroxides, a type of oxygen, into the High-Density Poly Ethylene. Adding peroxides encourages higher levels of bonding at an atomic level. This, in turn, results in cross-linking taking place at a higher level.
On the other hand, manufacturers use the Silane method to make PEX B pipes. This process can also be called moisture cross-linking or steam cross-linking. However, apart from PEX A, this manufacturing method is that the incorporation of steam takes place once the High-Density Poly Ethylene is made into a pipe. The cross-linking process takes place when the completed pipe is inserted into steam.
Therefore, PEX A and PEX B aren’t very different. Neither pipe outperforms the other or is of a higher quality than its counterpart.
Which is Better – PEX or Copper?
Both PEX and copper pipes have different strengths and weaknesses. The answer to this question ultimately depends on your plumbing needs and budget.
First, let’s look at PEX pipes.
You can purchase PEX pipes in different colors to help you distinguish between hot and cold water more efficiently. PEX piping is also incredibly flexible. It contracts and expands quite quickly, making it a simple material to work with. Additionally, you can buy a roll of PEX piping over 400 feet long, making it easy to install.
You cannot use PEX piping outdoors because it does not react well to sunshine. This is because the UV rays in sunlight can cause the PEX pipe to harden and crack. PEX tubing can also be chewed through easily by rodents and other tiny creatures, resulting in chewed and damaged piping that will leak over time.
Now, let’s take a look at Copper Pipes.
Copper pipes will last you an entire lifetime. Even though the average lifespan of PEX piping is around 50 years, copper pipes can last up to 70 years, making them a more desirable option for people looking to invest in a home and plumbing materials only once. Copper pipes don’t react negatively to sunlight and cannot be chewed by rats. Studies have also shown that copper pipes are safer when drinking tap water, especially since they do not contain any chemicals that PEX pipes contain.
Unfortunately, copper pipes are significantly more expensive than PEX pipes and more challenging to install when you aren’t a trained professional.
As we mentioned before, the answer to which type of pipe is better depends on your needs and budget. If you have a strict budget and cannot hire a plumber, we’d recommend choosing PEX pipes because they are cost-effective and easy to install. On the other hand, if you want long-lasting, durable, and more expensive pipes, copper pipes are the way to go.
Can I Connect PEX to My Water Heater?
No, you cannot connect your PEX to a water heater.
Will PEX Break or Split if it Freezes?
No, PEX will not break or split if it freezes. This is because PEX pipes have been designed to expand if necessary. Therefore, if water freezes in the pipe, it will expand and then contract to its regular shape when the water thaws.
This article took you through a comprehensive look at PEX pipes. These pipes have appeared in the plumbing market over the past decade or so, but many people don’t have enough information about them. They are versatile, easy to work with, and much more affordable than copper or steel pipes. Even though they have some disadvantages, we can assure you that installing and using them will significantly benefit you and your budget in the long run.
Our guide walked you through a tutorial on how to install the PEX pipe onto your bathroom sink, whether it is good for plumbing and drinking water, and whether these pipes are better than copper or not. Now that you’ve digested enough information, we hope you can choose your home’s plumbing.