Flutterby™! : PEX?

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2007-02-14 19:18:49.177509+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

Got a silly question with no immediate application, but... Anyone know anything about the flexible "PEX" (cross-linked polyethylene) tubing that Europeans have been using for plumbing and that has started making inroads in the U.S. since its adoption in the Uniform Plumbing Code? I'm having trouble telling if scare press releases and plumbing industry opposition are simple protectionism (the stuff is allegedly much simpler to install and cheaper than copper), or if there are actual valid concerns there.

It seems that there are various volatile organic compounds that leech from the PEX plumbing, including MTBE, and there are additional anecdotal reports (including possible rodent problems(!?)) but I haven't seen anyone back that up against, say, what additional copper we may take in our diets from copper pipes.

As I look around it seems like a lot of the data out there, pro and con, is being heavily pushed by opposing economic interests. I've no desire to be an early adopter of a technology that was, despite what people claim about its record in Europe, clearly faulty as of six or seven years ago, but I'm interested in this as a "how information flows" sort of issue.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-14 20:26:01.071475+00 by: dexev

Installed some in my house a few (4-5) years ago. Much easier and cheaper than copper. No idea if and how badly I'm poisoning my family, relative to copper.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-14 22:22:17.543849+00 by: ebradway

And I think the real question is how much worse the flexible PEX is compared to that standard rigid PVC that actually makes up much of the feed for our water.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-15 16:48:58.199129+00 by: other_todd

I use some flexible tubing for short stretches from "wall to sink" - for getting from threaded cold- and hot-water outlets up to sink fixtures. These are buyable at your local Home Despot or equivalent, cut to short lengths and pre-fitted. I have no idea if they are PEX because none of these sites have sample pictures. I do know that what I'm thinking of has been on sale in this country for yearsnyears, so maybe it's not actually PEX.

I presume that everything you flow water through over a long period of time leaches something - metals, plastics, whatever. I dunno if I would want to pipe a whole house in plastic pipe of any kind; but I'm not losing sleep if water flows through it for the very last 24" of its transit.