PEX Pipes vs. Copper Plumbing: Which Is Right for My Home?

Is it time to pump up your plumbing game? If you’re building a new home or you need to replace leaky pipes, you may have heard that copper plumbing and PEX pipes are the top choices out there. PEX is an acronym for “cross-linked polyethylene”, a sustainable plumbing solution that has been around for about 35 years. Meanwhile, copper pipes have been used for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient Egypt.

Trying to decide if PEX plumbing is better than copper? Here’s how they stack up against each other.

PEX Pipe Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Extremely durable 
  • Resistant to hot and cold temperatures
  • Better for the environment
  • Budget-friendly
  • Simple to install
  • Quiet water flow

Cons

  • Must be kept away from flames or extreme heat
  • Can’t be exposed to direct or indirect UV light
  • Susceptible to rodent damage

With white or clear colouring, PEX pipes are highly durable and semi-unbending. Similar to an electric cable, you can snake them through your wall to install them, making them very simple to maneuver.

PEX pipes are extremely easy to cut with a steel rotational cutter. You can join them with standard plumbing materials like crimp rings and cinch clamps. PEX pipes are also much less expensive than copper ones (often a third of the price)!

Copper Pipe Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Long lifespan
  • Rust-resistant
  • Reusable and recyclable
  • Contain antimicrobial properties

Cons

  • More likely to burst in the cold
  • Intensive installation process
  • More expensive
  • Can become toxic

Made of shiny metal, copper pipes come standard in many older homes built before the 1980s. Their big advantage is that they can stand the test of time, but they are more susceptible to freezing and leaking in our cold Canadian winters. Long exposure to acidic water can also damage copper pipes.

Copper pipes are relatively simple to install. With the right tools, practiced homeowners can cut and solder the material. However, the whole process can be time-consuming and require multiple fittings.

Which Lasts Longer: PEX Pipes or Copper Pipes?

Copper pipes are the winner here, typically lasting between 50 to 70 years. PEX pipes still have a long lifespan of 30 to 70 years.

How Much Do PEX & Copper Pipes Cost?

Copper’s recyclability has increased its price in recent years. It’ll cost you about $8,000 to $10,000 to put copper pipes in the average 1,500-square-foot home with two bathrooms. Meanwhile, PEX pipes cost about $4,000 to $6,000 in a similarly sized house.

Are PEX Pipes Better than Copper Pipes?

Generally, the consensus is that PEX pipes are the better choice. The low cost and ease of installation make them a great option. Plus, they won’t corrode and are more durable against acidic water and the elements.

Should I Switch Copper Pipes with PEX Plumbing?

If your copper pipes are functioning just fine, don’t go to the lengths of replacing them with PEX plumbing. However, if you discover problematic leaks and need to install a new system, PEX pipes are a smart way to go. Contact our expert plumbers for a consultation.

Replace the Poly-B Pipes in Your Home

Installed in 700,000 Canadian houses in the 1980s and 1990s, poly-B (polybutylene) pipes are made of plastic with copper connections and elbows. They are extremely prone to cracking and bursting, so we recommend replacing them as soon as you can.

Our highly trained plumbers will undertake an extensive poly-B pipe replacement process. From preparation and installation to repair and remediation, your new PEX plumbing will be safe, durable, and reliable. Feel peace of mind and book an appointment today!

More Plumbing Resources

Replace Your Old and Recalled Poly-B Pipes

Dangers of Poly-B Plumbing

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes: 6 Steps to Take When Your Pipes Freeze