Replacing Galvanized Pipes With PEX. Is It Worth It?
Galvanized pipes have many ways of telling you they need replacing. Perhaps they make weird noises, or maybe you notice decreased water pressure due to plaque buildup. You might even notice a slight discoloration in the water.
Whatever the warning sign is, you should act on it sooner than later. But as you start researching new pipes, you will quickly find yourself wondering if it is worth replacing your galvanized pipes with PEX.
You should consider replacing your galvanized pipes with PEX pipes as soon as feasibly possible. Galvanized pipes are no longer used in homes as they are known to corrode and over time, they can introduce potentially harmful chemicals into your water. PEX is an affordable and safer alternative to galvanized piping. PEX should not be used if there is UV light or high levels of chlorine present.
If you have galvanized pipes, you should already be in the process of planning how to remove them. After all, they have not been installed in most homes for over 50 years, which is their lifespan.
Regardless if they have shown warning signs, it is probably time to swap them out for new pipes. PEX pipes are a great alternative, but are they right for you?
In this article, we will dive into the benefits and downsides to PEX pipes, and help you discover whether or not making the switch from galvanized to PEX pipes is right for you.
Is It Worth Replacing Galvanized Pipes With PEX Pipes?
Cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX as it is commonly referred to, is a man-made material that has been a revolution for the plumbing industry. Using this material as piping is fantastic because unlike all the metal pipes used in the past, it is resistant to corrosion, chemicals and is even less susceptible to damage from heat and cold.
It is definitely a good idea to replace your galvanized pipes with PEX pipes. In fact, PEX has essentially become the industry standard. It is used in the majority of new home construction in the United States and has been since the 1980s.
But just like most man-made materials, it is not perfect. So, there are a few factors to consider before you rip out all your pipes. You should also know more about your galvanized pipes.
What Does “Galvanized” Mean?
The term “galvanized” refers to the zinc coating that is added to metals like steel or iron. This coating acts as a protective layer, and is helpful when fighting against corrosion and other issues that arise in wet and less-than-ideal situations. It was seen as a revolution at the time, and represented a safer alternative to lead pipes, which were found to be potentially harmful.
While galvanized pipes presented a much safer alternative to lead pipes that were used before this innovation, they are not completely safe, and started to fall out of popularity in the 1960s. The galvanized coating does not last forever, and can flake off into the water. This is often harmful to consume, and leads to the pipes deterioration as well.
In fact, galvanized pipes last between 20 and 50 years. This means if you live in a house that has galvanized pipes, you need to start considering replacing them. After all, since these types of pipes were no longer common after the 1960s, it has been at least 60 years or so since they were installed.
Is PEX Better Than Galvanized Pipe?
PEX pipe is better than galvanized pipe in pretty much every way. It is more available for one, being the industry standard. It is also very affordable. But perhaps most important is the safety factor.
Galvanized pipes have been proven to be harmful in many circumstances. This harm can increase as the pipes age. In these modern times, if your home has galvanized pipes, there is no doubt they are quite old. This means replacing them with PEX is a smart idea for functionality as well as safety.
To understand why PEX piping is something you should seriously consider, we have outlined its pros and cons. Once you understand all the benefits, as well as its weaknesses, you should have enough information to know whether or not replacing your galvanized pipes with PEX is the right decision.
Pros And Cons To Replacing Pipes With PEX Piping
Pros Of PEX Pipes
Corrosion- And Erosion-Resistant
PEX piping is resistant to corrosion and erosion. It doesn’t rust like metal does. It also is less likely to build up plaque the way galvanized pipes do.
PEX is also highly efficient. It is sought after for its thermal conductivity. It takes much less energy to move hot and cold water and it does so with ease. This can actually help lower your energy bill over time.
PEX piping is also almost silent. If you have had problems with loud pipes in the past, PEX will likely eliminate this noise.
It Is Affordable And Easier To Install
One of the biggest benefits of PEX piping is its ease of installation. It is affordable, flexible and easy to work with. This makes installation easier (and also cheaper usually) than copper and other materials.
Does Not Contain Impurities Found In Galvanized Pipes
Galvanized pipes have lots of impurities that can negatively affect your health. PEX pipes are not without their own potential hazards, but they do not flake off dangerous compounds the way galvanized pipes do. They are seen as a much safer alternative.
Cons Of Using PEX Pipe
Some PEX Pipes Leach Chemicals
While PEX is certainly safer than its metal alternatives like galvanized piping, it is not without some risk. Some PEX pipes can leach out chemicals. Some of these chemicals may be harmful. Others may leave the water in your home with an unpleasant odor or taste. Make sure you research this further when selecting your exact pipe.
Does Not Last As Long As Some (More Expensive Alternatives)
While PEX piping is often accompanied by a 25-year warranty, it is not guaranteed to last much longer than that. It is said to last between 40 and 50 years, but there are reasons where it might last a bit less. Copper pipes, on the other hand, last between 70 and 80 years.
Does Not Interact Well With Chlorine
If there is a high chlorine content in your water supply, consider an alternative to PEX. Chlorine interacts negatively with PEX material.
Sensitive To Light
PEX piping is also sensitive to UV light. So, while PEX makes for great piping within the home, you should not use it for outdoor plumbing. This is especially true for outdoor pipes.
Durable But Also Permeable
While PEX piping is durable, it is also permeable. It doesn’t take too much to break through it. Unlike metal pipes, one blow of a hard object or even a pesky rodent, can cause PEX pipe damage.
Can’t Use Outside In Hot Or Cold Climates
If you have extreme weather temperatures, and your pipes will be exposed to them, consider copper or a more durable alternative.
How Much Does PEX Pipes Cost?
On average, PEX pipes costs between 50 cents and $2 per linear square foot. The exact price will vary based on the exact pipe you use and where you buy it. This means PEX pipe is relatively affordable, especially compared to alternatives like copper. It is in the same ballpark price as CPVC pipes, but plumbers often prefer PEX due to its better durability in freezing temperatures and ease of installation.
Summing Up If Replacing Galvanized Pipes With PEX Is Worth It
If you are wondering if it is worth ripping out all your galvanized pipes and replacing them with PEX pipe, the answer is in most cases, yes. PEX is an affordable, safe and easy to install material.
Galvanized pipes will corrode and deteriorate over time. This means if you have galvanized pipes, they are probably past their expiration date.
PEX presents an affordable alternative to copper. While PEX pipes don’t last as long as copper, they are easy to install, much safer than galvanized pipes and highly efficient.
Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.
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