Are There Hidden Dangers with PEX Plumbing? - Fine Homebuilding

previous
  • 9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
    9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
  • Magazine Departments
    Magazine Departments
  • Remodeling Articles
    Remodeling Articles
  • Basement Remodeling Tips
    Basement Remodeling Tips
  • Video Series: Tile a Bathroom
    Video Series: Tile a Bathroom
  • Master Carpenter Videos
    Master Carpenter Videos
  • Tips & Techniques for Painting
    Tips & Techniques for Painting
  • Clever daily tip in your inbox
    Clever daily tip in your inbox
  • Radiant Heat Comparison
    Radiant Heat Comparison
  • 7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
    7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
  • Video: Install a Fence
    Video: Install a Fence
  • All about Roofing
    All about Roofing
  • Design Inspiration
    Design Inspiration
  • 7 Small Bathroom Layouts
    7 Small Bathroom Layouts
  • Energy-Smart Details
    Energy-Smart Details
  • Read FHB on Your iPad
    Read FHB on Your iPad
  • 7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
    7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
next

Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad


Are There Hidden Dangers with PEX Plumbing?

comments (11) December 16th, 2010 in Blogs
ScottG Scott Gibson, contributing writer


Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubing is an increasingly popular choice – cheaper than copper, faster to install and virtually free of fittings that can leak. But who cares if it's also adding unwanted chemical compounds to the water?

Arlene DiMarino's plumber is pushing PEX tubing, but her research turns up some disquieting information that the plastic might leach chemicals into her drinking water.

DiMarino's delimma is the subject of this week's Q&A Spotlight.

PEX appeared headed for approval in California, where environmental regulations are typically tough, until a lawsuit earlier this year got in the way. Among other things, the suit alleges PEX can contribute MTBE and a related chemical to drinking water.

But copper doesn't get a free pass, either. Not only is it susceptible to pin-hole leaks from acidic water, but high levels of dissolved copper in water pose their own health risks.

What's the right move?

Read the whole article at Green Building Advisor.

 

 

 

 



posted in: Blogs, plumbing

Comments (11)

lgryan lgryan writes: Municipalities all use plastic pipe to supply water to homes. Homes I lived in 50 years ago used poly pipe to supply water from the well to the house.
Posted: 5:45 pm on December 8th

JonF JonF writes: Not sure who is writing this but PEX has been approved for use in all 50 states since 2009 and on a case by case basis since 2007. we've also been using PEX for plumbing remodels since 2001 in my part of California. Frankly I suspect the copper industry is behind these scare tactics. It seems every few years reports come up about rats eating the lines or some nonsense.


Posted: 5:54 pm on November 15th

renosteinke renosteinke writes: It should be obvious, but it seems that everyone misses the point: The PEX revolution has nothing to do with the material!

Green? What's green about me having to drain a housefull of (cooled) water in the hot water lines before I have hot water at the tap? PEX avoids this with an entirely different piping arrangement, one where you need only replace the standing water in a single, tiny line. And what other plumbing method allows you to replace a bad line by tying the new to the old and 'fishing' it through?
Posted: 6:20 pm on January 12th

Rennaissance_Man Rennaissance_Man writes: Please let me clarify my last posting. In side most (coffee)vending machines are plumbed with silicon tubing (not under pressure)or it is done in copper (pressure lines). This is done because the industry has of a very long history of plastic failure use in the machines. Even the silicon lines will deteriorate over a period of years because of the mineral content on the water and from the continual contact with boiling water as is passes through the tubing. What my first posting was trying to communicate is that I do not trust the external connections from the customer's source to the external fittings on the machines. I can see what you are saying that it has been around for 40 years and it seems to be a "successful" product. However, has any independent study on the effects of the continual exposure by hot water on the PEX when it is used for radiant floor heating, or connections from the water heater, other than the manufacture or the FDA? I would be interested in reading that study and maybe it will convert me.


Posted: 4:02 pm on January 9th

Briandotca Briandotca writes: Rennaissance_Man, you mention "the newest plastic pipe on the market" but Pex has been around a long time (40yrs in Europe, 20 in the US market). Is it really logical to compare something with that kind of tenure in residential plumbing to "new plastics" used in vending machines? It would seem to me, with all the people who are either just unwilling to switch to new methods & or have a vested interest in keeping copper as the plumbing mainstay, that if pex really was unreliable there'd be better evidence available than a vague anecdote about "plastic piping" in vending machines.
Posted: 9:07 pm on December 27th

Briandotca Briandotca writes: Rennaissance_Man, you mention "the newest plastic pipe on the market" but Pex has been around a long time (40yrs in Europe, 20 in the US market). Is it really logical to compare something with that kind of tenure in residential plumbing to "new plastics" used in vending machines? It would seem to me, with all the people who are either just unwilling to switch to new methods & or have a vested interest in keeping copper as the plumbing mainstay, that if pex really was unreliable there'd be better evidence available than a vague anecdote about "plastic piping" in vending machines.
Posted: 9:07 pm on December 27th

Rennaissance_Man Rennaissance_Man writes: I don't trust any plastic plumbing for more than five years after installation. Before I got into home repair I worked in the vending industry installing coffee machines and repairing them. Our company policy (SF bay area) was to plumb every thing in copper (even in San Jose where they have a high mineral content in the water, knowing that I would replace the line in 3 years). I have heard horror stories of companies plumbing with "the newest plastic pipe on the market" and every time in fails with in 5 to 10 years usually causing the business to go under. I have personally seen the effects of a plastic plumbed water cooler failure. A bottled water company plumbed plastic off of a copper line that I had installed and it split open over a 3 day weekend. When the school open on Tuesday(the location where I did the work)they had water shooting out of the pipe and 8 inches of water on the floor. They tried to blame my company however I pointed out that it was not our work that had failed. I always had the customer look at and inspect the copper work (and sign off on it on the contract). Needless to say the bottled water company had quarter of a million dollar damage suit on their hands. So when some tells me that plastic is the only way to go I ask them "how much money do you have in you budget to replace this thing in 5 to 10 years". It cost more in the short run but it sure does save on the headaches and insurance claims.
Posted: 1:57 pm on December 23rd

cussnu2 cussnu2 writes: The bigger risk I see with PEX is the massive amount of lines being run by plumbers who have in the past shown little regard for what they do to the structure they drill holes through.
Posted: 10:46 am on December 23rd

acer1966 acer1966 writes: For me it does not mean a lot that it is FDA approved or that it is used worldwide.
How many times have we as Consumers been the Guinea pig for some new and supposedly save Products,
only to find out later that they are not save.
Posted: 8:38 am on December 23rd

JParks JParks writes: I realize that GBC and related subject matter is hot right now. However, I think you are hurting the quality of the content of your magazine with ecophobic "Green" articles to drive the "Green" fad further.

Why not just sum up the whole article in a sentence, PEX tubing for potable water distribution . . . green enough!


Posted: 6:22 pm on December 22nd

31chaser 31chaser writes: Having spent 25 years in the plastics industry, I can say without reservation that PEX is a very safe material to use in plumbing and would be my choice in new construction. PEX is cross linked polyethylene. Polyethylene is an extremely common plastic in use worldwide, is FDA approved for direct food contact and is used extensively in packaging for many food products from milk bottles to cereal, meat and cheese. PEX contains no BPA, no heavy metals and burns cleanly without creating toxic fumes like PVC and other chlorinated materials produce. The potential for low molecular weight fractions migrating out of the PEX and into the water, is extremely low. It has many benefits over copper both in installation and potential health issues.
Posted: 8:32 am on December 22nd

Log in or create a free account to post a comment.