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Copper vs. PEX Repiping: How To Choose

Copper or PEX Piping: Which Is Better?

When plumbing pipes get old, they are prone to breaking and causing leaks with even the slightest disturbance from outside forces. If a leak gets bad enough or a homeowner decides to take preemptive measures, they might even have to replace the pipes completely. This process is called repiping and usually involves extensive work by a licensed plumber. 

Due to this pressure, homeowners should make sure they choose the right type of pipes. In this article, plumbing experts share insight into the most commonly used piping materials: copper and PEX.

How Copper & PEX Differs

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The two types of pipes most commonly used when repiping houses are copper pipes and PEX pipes. Copper pipes are made out of copper, while PEX pipes are made from a plastic that comes in three different types: A, B, and C. Copper pipes have been around for longer, but PEX pipes have become quite popular in newer houses. 

While both of these pipes can be used for a whole-home repiping, they both have particular benefits and drawbacks that may impact the choice homeowners make. 

Copper Benefits and Drawbacks

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Because copper pipes are made of metal, they have a very long lifespan. Copper pipes have been known to last up to 70 years, meaning homeowners probably won’t have to replace the pipes in their lifetime if they plan to stay in the same house. Copper tubing can also be placed above and below ground and can’t be damaged by rodents or any other animals around the pipes.

While copper pipes last longer, they are more expensive than PEX pipes by roughly $4,000 more. Along with the high price tag, copper pipes are also harder to install and more susceptible to damage because the pipes are more likely to break during the winter due to the freezing. However, freezing is only a problem for homeowners that live in a cold climate. 

PEX Benefits and Drawbacks

fixing a pipe

Firstly, plastic PEX pipes are much cheaper to install than copper pipes. They are also less likely to break or start leaking. Because PEX pipes are made of plastic, they are more flexible than copper pipes, so they don’t require as many connecting parts as copper pipes do. Along with less connecting parts, the flexibility of these pipes allows the plumbing system to have a central cutoff location, which makes it easier to manage the plumbing line. 

Due to being made of plastic, PEX pipes have a short life span that does not exceed fifty years, so they have to be replaced more frequently than copper pipes. These pipes are also not UV resistant, so there can’t be any piping above ground where it could contact the sun. The makeup of the pipes also makes it easy for rodents to chew their way through the pipes. 

Ultimately, the type of pipe a homeowner ends up getting is dependent on what factors are most important to them.

Knight Plumbing

Knight Plumbing, Inc. has been servicing Milwaukee's plumbing needs for more than a quarter of a century. With expert plumbers more concerned with fixing plumbing than selling services, homeowners can count on a quick appointment with people who care.