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Making the Decision Between Copper and PEX Pipes

The materials of a product say a lot about its quality. This is true for furniture, for clothing, for shoes, for luggage, for vehicles, and even for food! 

Plumbing systems are the same. Homeowners want to make sure that the materials used in a plumbing system are high quality to last a long time with few repairs. 

PEX Pipes vs. Copper Pipes

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A major question that comes up when looking to install new plumbing pipes is what material to use. Is it better to use PEX pipes or copper pipes? And what’s the difference between the two? 

Copper pipes are typically better known than PEX pipes; they use metal tubes and fittings. PEX pipes, on the other hand, are plastics. They’re made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). 

Of course, there are pros and cons to each one. Homeowners should always weigh these pros and cons before making a decision on which one to use. 

PEX Pipes: Pros and Cons


  • Flexible: The greater flexibility of PEX pipes allows them to bend around corners easily. This reduces the number of connectors or elbow parts that are needed.
  • Durable: PEX pipes are more durable. They resist corrosion and mineral buildup and are less likely to experience burst pipes because their flexibility allows them to expand rather than split.
  • Safe installation: Unlike copper pipes, PEX pipes do not require soldering during the installation process. Soldering can be a fire hazard, so PEX pipes are considered to be safer during installation.
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  • Unusable outdoors: PEX pipes are not suitable for outdoor piping. UV light from the sun can damage these pipes by breaking down the material and causing it to crack. 
  • Challenging to recycle: Unfortunately, PEX materials can’t melt like other plastics, making them hard to recycle and less eco-friendly than copper. 
  • Special connectors required: PEX pipes require special connectors (like a PVC or copper connector) to hook up the water heater. They cannot connect to the water heater directly.

Copper Pipes: Pros and Cons

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  • Long lifespan: While PEX pipes last an average of 30-50 years, copper pipes can last from 50-70 years.
  • Eco-friendly: Copper pipes are easier to recycle than PEX pipes making them more environmentally-friendly.
  • Resistant to fires: Though copper pipe installation can be dangerous, they are resistant to fires because they have a high thermal ranking.


  • Expensive: The cost of copper is higher than PEX pipes, and it has gone up in recent years. Additionally, since copper pipes are not flexible enough to bend around corners, they require additional fittings, adding to the total cost.
  • High risk of pipe bursts: Copper pipes are not flexible. If the water in the pipes freezes and expands during the winter, copper pipes have no choice but to burst. This can lead to some costly damages for homeowners when it happens. 
  • Unpleasant tastes: Because copper pipes are metal, the water flowing through the pipes can carry some of that metallic taste along with it. This can be unpleasant for some homeowners and their families.

Weighing the pros and cons of each piping material option can help homeowners make the best decision for their home’s unique needs. It’s also best to contact a professional to get the process started.

About Jim Wagner Plumbing, Inc.

Jim Wagner Plumbing, Inc. is a local, affordable Lombard, IL plumbing company committed to delivering comfort and peace of mind to all of its customers. They do not cut corners – every job is completed to exceed industry standards so customers can enjoy the peace of mind they deserve.