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Which is Better - PEX or Copper?
PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) has several advantages over copper:
- PEX is cheaper than copper. Half-inch PEX tubing costs about a third the price of copper. Some of the savings will be offset by the need for a special tool to install the fittings, but if you're doing a medium to large plumbing job, you'll usually save by using a PEX supply instead of copper.
- PEX fittings are faster to install than copper. If you use a manifold and 'home-run' system, it's like running a garden hose to each fixture — super fast and easy. But even if you install PEX fittings in a conventional main line and branch system, the connections are quicker to make than soldering copper.
- A PEX supply won't corrode like copper. If you live in an area with acidic water, copper can corrode over time. A PEX supply is unaffected by acidic water and is therefore a better choice in these areas.
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What About PEX vs. CPVC?
A PEX supply and CPVC cost about the same. But there are a few reasons why a PEX supply may be a better choice. First, a PEX supply doesn't require glue, which means you don't have to work in well-ventilated spaces or wear a respirator. PEX supply is less likely than CPVC to burst if it freezes. Also, since PEX supply is more flexible and is available in long lengths, it can work better for 'fishing' through walls in remodeling situations.