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Should I Repipe My House With Copper Piping Or PEX Tubing?

Updated:  |  Published:

Decision time: Copper vs PEX repipes.
Decision time: Copper vs PEX repipes.

One of the most crucial decisions when considering a full home repipe is choosing the right material for your pipes.

Copper piping and PEX tubing are the two primary materials used in repipes, but selecting the right one can be challenging.

In this article, we explore the pros and cons of copper piping and PEX tubing. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each option, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your needs and budget.

Should I Repipe My House with Copper Piping or PEX Tubing?

Copper piping and PEX tubing are both popular and widely accepted materials for any home repipe.

Here at Repipe Specialists, we utilize both copper piping and PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) piping for our full home repipes. Additionally, we provide lifetime warranties on all of our copper and PEX repipes.

Copper and PEX have distinct differences that provide them with unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to repiping your house.

In the following sections, we will explore these materials' pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

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The Pros and Cons of Copper Piping

The Pros of Copper Piping

Copper piping has long been a trusted choice for plumbing systems, and for good reason.

Copper piping is renowned for its durability, making it an excellent long-term investment. With an average lifespan of 50 years or more, copper pipes are known for their excellent longevity. This means fewer leaks and repairs, providing homeowners with peace of mind and potentially saving them money in the long run.

image of type L copper pipes
We use Type L, American-made copper pipe

Copper pipes are known for their sturdiness and reliability. They can withstand high water pressures and extreme temperature fluctuations without compromising their structural integrity.

The Cons of Copper Piping

A significant drawback of copper piping is its higher upfront cost compared to PEX.

The installation process for copper piping is labor-intensive, as every connection and joint needs soldering. This demands additional safety precautions due to fire risks, requiring larger holes for accessing connections.

The installation of copper pipes is more time-consuming than PEX, leading to higher installation costs and prolonged project timelines. The project's size and complexity will also affect these factors.

While copper pipes resist corrosion generally, they can still succumb to certain water chemicals. Acidic or alkaline water with high mineral content can both gradually corrode copper pipes over time.

For example, Florida's drinking water is considered very hard water; with significant levels of calcium, iron, and magnesium. This high mineral content can contribute to increased corrosion in copper piping and eventually lead to pinhole leaks. For more information, we have a thorough article on the causes of copper pinhole leaks.

copper pipe pinhole leaks
Copper pipe pinhole leaks

This susceptibility to corrosion can significantly shorten the lifespan of copper piping, whereas this is much less of an issue for PEX tubing.

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The Pros and Cons of PEX Tubing

The Pros of PEX Tubing

PEX tubing has gained significant popularity in recent years due to its cost-effectiveness, durability, flexibility, and longevity. We have a detailed article on the benefits of repiping with PEX tubing.

Compared to copper piping, PEX tubing and fittings are generally more affordable to purchase and install, making it an attractive option for homeowners on a budget.

PEX is highly flexible, allowing for easy installation around corners, through walls and attics, and through existing structures. Due to its flexibility, PEX can be installed directly from the central manifold to all outlets, requiring minimal connections and less wall patching than copper. This ease of installation can keep labor costs lower, while saving both time and money during the repiping process.

Routing new PEX tubing through walls
Routing new PEX tubing through walls

PEX tubing typically has a lifespan of 50 years or more, depending on factors such as water quality and usage. It is also highly resistant to corrosion, pitting, and scaling. In certain water conditions, copper plumbing may have a significantly shorter lifespan.

Additionally, PEX tubing is particularly advantageous in areas prone to freezing temperatures. When water freezes, PEX tubing can expand and contract slightly without rupturing, reducing the risk of burst pipes.

The Cons of PEX Tubing

Possibly the single biggest reason our clients opt for copper over PEX (although most choose PEX) is that they simply don't like the idea of having plastic pipes. There has been some concern in the past regarding PEX leaching chemicals; however, after governmental testing and review, PEX is considered completely safe to drink.

PEX tubing cannot be exposed to UV light for extended periods. When exposed to UV rays, the structure of PEX can break down over time, leading to weakened material, reduced performance, and potential cracking or degradation of the tubing. If your home is prone to rodent infestation, copper may also be a more durable solution.

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Copper vs PEX: The Bottom Line

When deciding between copper and PEX for your home repipe, the best choice to suit your specific needs will depend on personal preference, installation requirements, and budget.

Overall, the advantages of PEX tubing outweigh those of copper piping. Both materials are strong options for your home repipe, offering different benefits that can cater to your personal needs.

While the majority of our repipes utilize Uponor PEX tubing, we also offer the option of American-made L-grade copper piping based on our clients' preferences.

If you are still unsure whether to use copper or PEX for your home repipe, feel free to contact us to schedule a free consult with one of our local repipe consultants.

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Get a Quote for Your Home Repipe

Here at Repipe Specialists, we've fully replaced the plumbing in over 75,000 homes since 1991 using both copper piping and PEX tubing. We continually get positive customer feedback from customers about their overall home repipe experiences. We often exceed their expectations on:

  • Speed: Our repipe crews typically complete a repipe in a day, returning on another day for wall patching.
  • Convenience: Through our One-Stop Repipe™ process, we handle everything from permits, to wall patching, to inspections.
  • Cleanliness: Our crews are trained to protect your home while working (we cover all surfaces with protective sheeting), and to clean up fully at the end of each day.
  • Peace of Mind: Repipe Specialists is a fully licensed plumber in every state we operate in, and we back all of our repipes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Financing programs: To help take the sting out of unplanned repipe expenses, we offer several financing programs.
  • Price: As a specialist that performs hundreds of repipes a week, we can deliver high-quality repipes at a lower cost vs generalist plumbers. We have an article that covers repipe cost factors in detail. Our quotes typically range from $4,500 to $15,000 depending on the size and complexity of your project.

Schedule a free in-home consult, and one of our local repipe consultants will explain all your repipe options and provide you with a written, fixed-price quote.

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About Repipe Specialists

Expert Repiping at an Affordable Cost

Since our founding in 1991, we've been completing residential and multi-family building repipes to the highest standard.

With over 75,000 repipes completed, we've perfected our  One Stop Repipe™ process: providing you with a high quality and convenient repipe experience while offering significant savings compared to traditional plumbers - plus, our work is guaranteed for life.

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