What Are The PEX Plumbing Disadvantages?

Last Updated On May 24, 2024

Updated on August 31, 2023



Reviewed by

pex plumbing disadvantages

You have options when it comes to the type of plumbing you use in your home. When you need to look at different plumbing options, PEX plumbing comes up often as an inexpensive and user-friendly option. However, is it worth the lower price tag?

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • What is PEX plumbing 
  • What you need to know about PEX plumbing
  • Disadvantages of PEX plumbing

What's In This Guide?

      What Is PEX Plumbing?

      Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) plumbing is a type of plumbing material often found in residential plumbing systems. 

      There are three ways of crosslinking the plumbing:

      • Radiation process – electrons are used to fuse the material together.
      • Silane process – moisture-cured vinylsilane grafts to the polyethylene.
      • Engel process – uses heat-activated chemicals known as peroxide.

      You can also choose between coils or sticks, with coils being the easier to work with but slightly more expensive option. 

      PEX plumbing is typically used for residential hot and cold water systems. However, it can also be used for city sewer lines, sprinkler systems, and floor heating systems. 

      PEX plumbing replaced the galvanized pipe and then eventually went on to provide an alternative to the popular metal pipes made of copper.

      What You Need To Know About PEX Plumbing

      It’s important to understand the benefits of PEX plumbing before we talk about the disadvantages of using it. It’s also important to understand the difference between some of the most common alternative options, such as copper. 

      Benefits of PEX Plumbing

      There are numerous benefits of PEX plumbing, including:

      • No VOCs
      • Resistant to corrosion
      • User-friendly
      • Energy-efficient
      • Water conversion
      • Low price

      PEX Pipe Vs. PVC Pipe

      PEX pipes and PVC pipes are very similar except for the fact that PVC pipes are made from polyvinyl chloride as opposed to cross-linked polyethylene. 

      PEX tends to hold up better when it comes to hot temperatures, but PEX pipe costs significantly less for how long it lasts. See this post to compare PVC pipe endurance.

      PEX Tubing Vs. Copper Pipes

      Copper pipe is one of the most popular plumbing materials, so which one should you pick for your plumbing system?

      PEX has multiple benefits over copper, including:

      • Lower cost
      • Increased flexibility
      • Easier to install
      • No corrosion
      • No metal in drinking water
      • Easier to work with

      PEX plumbing pipes work well at preventing your pipes from freezing in the winter due to expansion capability.

      Disadvantages of PEX compared to copper include:

      • Not as strong
      • Susceptible to kinks
      • Requires straight cuts for crimps
      • Maximum 30-year life expectancy

      To provide both plastic pipes and metal pipes, many people use CVPC that are made from chlorinated polyvinyl chloride that provides an additional coating to protect the water supply in your home, which is especially important when it comes to your potable water.

      did you know pex plumbing disadvantages

      Disadvantages Of PEX Plumbing

      It’s important to cover the disadvantages of PEX plumbing to help you make a full decision regarding your plumbing system. Here are some of the reasons many people prefer to steer away from PEX plumbing. 

      Pest Damage

      If rodents, such as mice and rats, gain access to PEX pipes, they may be able to chew through them rather easily. When this happens, you can end up with plumbing leaks that lead to expensive water damage repair bills. 

      Heat Damage

      Pipes come into contact with heat in numerous ways. When the heat accumulates to a certain point, it can melt PEX pipes until it becomes deformed or completely deteriorates. 

      Chemical Damage

      If you get a drain clog, you may want to use a chemical drain cleaner to dissolve it. However, caustic chemicals may eat at the PEX plumbing pipe as much as it does the clog. 

      Incorrect Installation

      If not installed properly, PEX pipe can become weak rather quickly, making it ultimately ineffective. This is one reason we recommend how to cut PEX pipe properly during installation.

      Toxic Materials

      Recent studies indicate that there may be toxic chemicals in PEX tubing that makes it less than ideal for use in potable water systems or any residential plumbing system. 

      In fact, PEX tube is currently banned in California due to the fear of toxic chemicals. With that being said, it’s important to note that PEX has been tested and does not contain hazardous materials, making the ban in California more of a precaution than anything else. 

      Cast iron puts more toxic materials into your water than PEX, which is why many people won’t allow cast iron to be used in plumbing systems, either. 

      Always check local plumbing standards, especially if you live in California or another place known for strict ordinances. PEX was allowed as early as 2011, so it’s important to understand that things may change. 

      To be fair, there are also a ton of good reasons to use PEX. See this post on the advantages to using PEX piping.

      Working with PEX Plumbing

      In general, PEX plastic piping is extremely easy to work with. This is more true of PEX A vs. PEX B, as the latter returns to its coil due to the slightly different composition.

      Its flexibility allows PEX piping to expand during freezing, preventing burst pipes, but what happens after the pipes thaw?

      PEX pipe, or plastic pipe, has a unique memory that allows the pipe material to return to its original state when necessary. In order to bring the material back to its original state, you can use heat and pressure. 

      You can use Sharkbite fittings, copper fittings, elbow fittings, and, of course, PEX fittings to connect PEX with a wide range of other materials.

      Final Thoughts on PEX Plumbing Disadvantages

      We find that while you may want to select another option than a PEX plumbing system, such as PVC, PEX provides one of the most cost-effective and practical materials available. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its disadvantages as well. 

      PEX pipes may not be toxic, but they don’t provide the same strength as metal pipes. If they break and create a serious problem, it will cost more to pay for the repairs than it would to use metal pipes from the very beginning. 

      FAQs For Pex Plumbing Disadvantages

      Why is PEX plumbing bad?

      PEX pipe doesn’t have the same durability as copper piping. 

      What is the lifespan of PEX pipe?

      PEX pipe lasts 30 years. 

      Do rats chew on PEX pipe?

      Yes. Rats can chew on PEX pipe. 

      Why is PEX banned in California?

      California banned PEX tubing out of fear of chemicals in plastic.

      Meet Your Plumbing Navigator

      Plumbing Navigator: plumbing advice

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We’re passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

      Learn More Plumbing Tips

      Want to tackle more plumbing projects? Check out these helpful guides!

      best water heater stand
      tankless water heater flush kit
      best mesh drain strainer
      Best Shower Drain Cover

      Got Plumbing Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      Recently Published Guides