PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) plumbing pipes have become popular in use with renovation work and new home construction, replacing copper plumbing applications.
The material is formed into piping or tubing, and used in buildings for domestic cold & hot water supply lines as well as hydronic radiant heating. It is preferred over copper, for example, as it costs less, is easier to install, flexible requiring less connections / fittings, higher water pressure, reduce risk of fire during installation, no corrosion, and reduced chance of pipe burst from freezing. Some of its cons include: the material can degrade with UV (ultraviolet) sunlight, it can be prone to insects damage, and concerns over possible health effects.
Like any plumbing in your home, condo or a commercial building, you can’t always see (all of) it i.e. it’s hidden. It can also be transitioned to / from copper. So you might see copper in one area, but changes to PEX further on down the line. You can also get varying products (brands / manufacturers) being used within one property as well. It’s also possible to mix the problem product with good product, making it a problem of another sort.
There are some class action lawsuits / settlements involving PEX plumbing pipes, fittings and systems which burst / leaked regarding various manufacturers e.g. Kitec, Zurn, Uponor / Wirsbo and Plasco Plumb-PEX. Some insurance companies are now refusing to provide insurance on houses with this type of plumbing or may require, for example, additional / higher premiums, re-plumbing / modifications, and or an inspection(s) by a licensed plumber.
Make sure you know if you have PEX plumbing pipes in your home, condo or commercial building before you buy, and whether or not they are those affected by the above. Be sure to consult your insurance broker before buying your home too. Last but not least…get it inspected!