Why Facility Managers Are Choosing PEX For New Construction

                        

In any day and age, we are always on the lookout for ways to cut back on costs and become more efficient or effective at what we do. Construction, contract labor, and facility management are certainly no exception. And, in fact, the world of plumbing has seen some changes with new materials and methods being implemented as their effectiveness becomes more well-known.

Who is the new kid on the block? The answer is PEX.

What is PEX?

PEX, or cross-linked polyethylene tubing, is becoming more and more common for our water supply. Although this may seem like a new option in plumbing, it’s not. It has been used in other places like Europe since 1970. Since its first use in the U.S. in 1980, it has become increasingly popular with new construction and replacement projects instead of copper and other polymers.

So, what makes PEX so special?

Advantages of PEX

With the price of copper continuing to rise, PEX has quickly become the cheaper alternative. Not only is it cheaper to buy, but you do not have to use as much material for installation. PEX is flexible and does not require as many fittings compared to rigid piping options. In larger construction projects, the savings can be huge.

But the advantages of PEX are not limited to time money, although they both make for a convincing argument. So let’s compare PEX to copper and CPVC piping.

Copper:

The material itself can have a long lifespan, about 80-100 years, and has been a standard in plumbing for decades. But the material is vulnerable to corrosion and bursts due to freezes, undercutting it’s principle advantage. The material is also very expensive. In fact, copper is so valuable that thefts often occur from construction sites just to strip a job site of its wiring and piping. As the installation is more difficult and time-consuming, setbacks from thefts become doubly costly.

CPVC:

CPVC is likely a cheaper alternative familiar to most homeowners, having been principally responsible for the initial move away from copper piping. It can be easily installed, is more corrosion-resistant and flexible. It also tends to resist scale build-up, though exposure to sunlight for any extended period can cause the material to break down. Other common chemicals such as pest control sprays can also cause premature deterioration.

Why Does PEX Win?

PEX shares the advantages of corrosion and scale resistance with other polymer solutions like CPVC but requires fewer fittings due to it being even more flexible. This increased flexibility also allows it to further resist bursting due to freezing water. In fact, it even insulates better than other materials and since you need fewer fittings and less piping overall, it provides a shorter path for your water to travel. In can last for up to 25 years in hot or cold climates, and even eliminates the familiar “hammer noise.”

While each job site is different, PEX continues to gain use and traction in the industry due to it being more flexible, easier to work with, and resistant to wear, not to mention cheaper, as in the example of a century-old hotel in Virginia Beach, known as the Cavalier Hotel. This 20-story hotel repiped with 15,000 feet of PEX, with project manager Tim Grimes claiming savings of roughly 15% on the project. In terms of time, an apartment complex in Washington state was able to repipe 360 units with a two-man crew and 25 days. Even in comparison to CPVC, this speaks to the benefits of PEX, as well as the installing contractors.

If you’re looking into a new construction project or need to repipe an existing facility, consider your options for materials while you shop around for the best contractors to complete the project. Ask established contractors like A1 Plumbing Service what they use and recommend for your project. It’s good practice, and the answer could well save you time and money better spent elsewhere.

Image source: © Petrik – Fotolia.com

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