A Revolutionary Piping Material for Heating Systems

Using PEX Pipes in Heating Systems

In cold winter countries like Canada and the United States, residential heating system is indispensable. It makes your home comfortably warm and maintains room temperature at an acceptable level. If your home is not equipped with heaters or a reliable heating system, your family might not make it through the cold winter months.

You can choose to install either a local or centralized heating system in your home. A centralized heating system generates heat from a single source inside the house, typically from the furnace room or mechanical room. A centralized heating system may be a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system as well.

A localized or distributed heating system, on the other hand, makes use of a single heating machine to keep a room warm.

Many prefer the centralized heating system for easier maintenance and equal distribution of heat throughout the interior of a building. Another important difference is that the centralized system makes use of ductwork and several pipes to transport the heat to several vents. In fact, the entire system is only as good as the material used in making the pipes.

Discover PEX

The most common materials used for piping are copper and plastic. However, a new material is creating a stir in the industry today. The material is called PEX, which stands for cross-linked polyethylene, and sometimes also referred to as XLPE. It is slowly taking the place of copper, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) water pipes. The reason for this is that this revolutionary tubing material is made from high density polyethylene; in other words, it is a substance that’s more durable than PVC or plastic and more flexible than copper.

PEX is so durable and flexible that it is not only used in heating system pipes, water pipes and sewage but also as tubes to transport chemicals, natural gas pipes, and insulation for electric cables. Below are some of the advantages when using PEX.

PEX Advantages and Disadvantages

One, since it is basically a highly durable plastic, PEX is flexible and doesn’t corrode. It can bend to fit narrow spaces, run through tiny openings and make short-radius turns. Elbow joints become unnecessary unless when making a sharp 90-degree turn. And since it is flexible, PEX may be installed using just one line that goes straight from the heating system to a vent. Also, because of flexibility, PEX is much easier to install. This material’s flexibility is also demonstrated by the fact that it is now being used in heating systems, hot water piping, cold water piping, and electrical cables.

Two, PEX is said to last for 50 years or more. Since they do not corrode, break or produce pin-holes, they can easily outlast copper and PVC pipes. PEX can last for a longer time since unlike copper it won’t burst easily when frozen and unlike PVC it won’t rip easily when water expands. Experts argue that PEX could endure 5 to 6 freeze-thaw cycles without splitting, which is why they are perfect for HVAC systems.

Finally, PEX is said to be friendlier to the environment than copper and PVC, although PEX is based on petroleum products.

Like other helpful technologies and devices, however, there are some downsides to using PEX. PEX tubing cannot be exposed to sunlight, cannot be used with adhesives, it has been observed that some insects find PEX tubing irresistible. More importantly, not many plumbers know about this material yet and may not install the material properly; thus homeowners should make sure that their professional plumber is trained to work with this kind of material.

Joyce Del Rosario is a blogger from Toronto Plumber, one the of the leading sites offering Drain Camera Inspection.

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