The average homeowner isn’t all that concerned about what kind of pipes run throughout your home so long as the water comes out of the faucets and not the walls and ceilings! Still, it helps to have some basic understanding of the types of materials that are out there. That’s especially true if you’re considering having piping replaced in the near future (or perhaps right away).

Plumbing pipes can be made from a variety of materials, most commonly copper and galvanized material. There’s another kind of piping that we at S & D Plumbing love to use, and that’s PEX piping! Why? Read on to find out!

Lead Piping

Before we get to the exciting stuff, it helps to understand how far piping has come. Before the 20th century, lead was pretty much all we used! It’s cheap, abundant, it’s easy to weld, and it doesn’t rust. Sounds great, right? Well, as our understanding of lead and its impact on human health grew, lead piping quickly fell out of favor. The United States federal goverment actually banned the use of leaded piping in new plumbing systems in 1986. Still, the EPA estimates that there are as many as 10,000,000 lead services lines still in use today.

Galvanized Piping

Even before we fully understood the adverse health effects of lead piping, galvanized piping had started to become the standard for residential piping. In the 1940’s, new construction builders began using galvanized piping and continued to do so into the 1960’s. Galvanized piping is really durable, lasting upwards of 60 years! It’s also pretty cheap. So why did we stop using it?

Well for one, it rusts. It also corrodes. Not things you want in your drinking water, obviously. In addition to being something you don’t want to consume, rust flakes can even clog up piping and wreak havoc on water pressure. Galvanized pipes also struggle to handle hard water. Hardness is composed of different minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron. When these minerals are in the water, they cause the galvanized coating to wear off slowly and eventually become a problem. When hard water reacts with the coating, the pipes corrode.

Copper Pipes

So if galvanized piping isn’t the answer and lead is a no-go, what’s the answer? Starting in 1960, copper became the standard for residential plumbing applications. The vast majority of American homes – including those in Austin – have at least some copper piping.

One of the reasons copper is so popular is its durability compared to other metals such as galvanized pipes. It’s also longer-lasting than galvanized piping, and doesn’t have the concerns around lead, rust, and corrosion. Better still, it does a good job of dealing with hardness in water. It’s also very heat-resistant, a great quality in something that often transports hot water! It inhibits bacterial growth, it can withstand shaking in earthquake-prone areas, and lasts a pretty long time.

However, copper is pretty expensive, costing significantly more than galvanized piping. Another disadvantage of copper piping is that it can fail when the water temperature exceeds 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Copper pipes can also get clogged with condensation, which can reduce its effectiveness. Additionally, when the water inside these pipes freezes, it can cause a blockage. There are some concerns about taste, as well. Still, copper piping is pretty much the “standard” for piping today. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better option out there!

PEX Piping

Enter PEX piping! Invented in 1968 by German scientist Thomas Engle, “PEX” (short for cross-linked polyethylene) plastic started being fashioned into piping shortly thereafter. It’s initial use was mainly for radiant heating, and continues to be still today. American homes first saw PEX piping being used in the 80’s and 90’s, and is incredibly attractive for a number of reasons.

PEX piping is affordable, it’s extremely flexible, and incredibly durable. In its early days of use in the United States, it took a while to become popular because high chlorine levels would cause the piping to deteriorate slightly. However, improved fittings and adjustments during manufacturing have resolved these concerns. PEX piping is used in more than half of new construction water systems for homes in the U.S. these days, and isn’t just great for new systems! We at S & D Plumbing have great success utilizing PEX piping for all manner of jobs. Whether it’s an extensive pipe replacement project or resolving a more minor problem for a homeowner, PEX piping is a very attractive option over copper for both our team and our customers. With no lead concerns, no worries about frozen pipes bursting, and easy installation, it simply makes sense in most cases to be the solution.

Some of the many great benefits of PEX piping include:
  • It’s cheaper than copper to manufacture
  • PEX doesn’t corrode over time like copper piping
  • No soldering is needed with PEX piping (copper or galvanized steel piping does)
  • PEX expands with temperature – no cracking from winter conditions
  • Water flows virtually silently through the pipes
  • Incredibly durable
  • No lead concerns
  • Easy to use for retrofitting older plumbing systems

An additional benefit here is that PEX piping is really flexible! Think about your typical metal pipe. Not so easy to bend, right? Well PEX piping is more like a garden hose. That makes weaving piping in and around tight areas (such as in walls!) quite a bit easier.

Your Austin PEX Piping and Plumbing Pros

Whether you’re trying to resolve an issue with a specific part of your home plumbing system or looking to replace old galvanized, lead, or copper piping, PEX piping is a great option to consider. We’ve been using this great technology with success for years, and continue to stand behind it as a solid choice for our customers. From repiping projects to fixing a leak, there’s always a chance for PEX piping to stand in and shine!

S & D Plumbing is proud to serve Austin and the surrounding communities with top-tier plumbing services. If you have any questions for our team about PEX piping or to inquire about service, we’re always glad to help. Simply contact us today and let us assist!

S & D Plumbing

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