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Question DetailsAsked on 6/15/2013

Which is better for re-piping a house and does it affect resale. PEX is a plastic pipe and the other choice is copper.

I live in Orange County, Ca. Am about to re-pipe wit PEX instead of copper pipes. Is there any info on pluses and minuses? The installer is Repipe Specialists and they are recommending PEX. It is relatively new and I intend to sell the house in 1-3 years so am concerned about it hurting re-sale value.

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6 Answers


I am thoroughly perplexed why you are replacing piping in a relatively new house - or do you mean house is old but worried because PEX is a relatively new product ?

Totally depends on your buyers - if they have heard the horror stories about early PEX splitting problems, or continuing issues with bad connections, it could turn them off - though probably 90% of buyers kn ow nothing about plumbing. Personally, I hate the stuff - have seen all too many cases of splitting and connection failures, with catastrophic leakage damage. When copper pipes fail, they almost always do so very gradually and with only minor water damage, not dumping hundreds of gallons like plastic.

PEX will undoubtedly be cheaper because it only takes about 1/3 of the labor time to install on a retrofit.

I would figure out what Realtor you are likely to use when you move, and get their opinion. I would also get their opinion on repiping at all - unless your copper is a total mess and covered everywhere with scale and copper bloom (green powdery substance) (meaning from 1950's or earlier), I doubt you will recoup even 20% of the cost in resale value. Buyers just don't worry that much about pipes, and most home inspectors will not raise it as a major issue unless they see current leaks.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


The house is 23 years old and we are having pin-hole leaks and fear an eventual slab leak which is thousands to repair. The PEX is cheaper but has a 50 year warranty. That is pretty good I think. The PEX is only 10 Years approved in CA and there is not a lot of research on it. Thanks for the response. I appreciate it.

Answered 7 years ago by Guest_96532371


Actually, a slab leak is rarely thousands to repair. A spot repair in a concrete basement slab usually would run about $300-400 unless in an impossible place to get at, like under a wall or under low overhead stairs, where it would then bump up to maybe $500-700 to open two places in the floor and run a new pipe section under the slab to replace the break.

Another common soloution in older houses is to just put in a house-air heated chase (heated not required in most of Orange County, except up on the San Gabriel Mountains foothills) on the outside of the house, pick up from the outside water line with a new shutoff valve, then run new line up the foundation wall in the chase and through the basement or crawlspace joists to hook up to the rest of the house piping - totally bypassing the under-slab route. Typically about $1000.

23 years is about normal range for pinholes to start showing up in copper. Has the plumber said if it is due to cavitation (erosion due to water flow causing bubbles in the water on bends), corrosive water, or bad joints ? Usually at about 20-30 years you get a few bad joints that finally decide to leak through, but after those few are fixed, you get another 20 years or more before cavitation or general corrosion start a continued progression of leaks. You might just be at that point where the sloppy joints are showing up. Of course, makes a big difference if you have a ranch house with crawlspace or unfinished basement for most leaks to go into relatively harmlessly, or if most of your leaks are going to be in walls and finished ceilings, or you have a finished basement.

I wouldstill talk to a Realtor or two about this issue - repiping at 23 years would not be the norm unless you are in an area with corrosive (probably well) water,

Of course, if you want the pipes replaced for peace of mind, that is a totally different matter.

Good luck whichever way you go.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


I live in the North East. Pex has been used here for a while. Back in the 80's there was a precursor to pex, it was a gray pipe used a lot in Mobil homes. The connection clamp corroded and cause leaks. This new product, Pex, has solved this problem. The real money saver is in the labor not the material. I say yes it is a good product and it should not negatively affect the price of the home. It is accepted well in the industry. Make sure your contractor is licensed in CA and check with your municipality if permits are needed. It is always A good idea to have some check to make sure the work is done correctly if you are not familiar with it. Good luck

Answered 7 years ago by Guest_9949411


Guest 9949411 is right about it being around for close to 30 years. PEX stands for Pelyethylene, Cross.Linked, meaning a polyethylene (like reusable drink bottle plastic) which has a chemistry where the molecules cross-linked with each other in cooling from the melt, making it less susceptible to splits and cracks than plain polyethylene, which is what the first tubings were. Then came the gray "soft" flexible PVC tubing, which was a disaster - there was a significant recall and court settlement on that.

However, the problem did not go away in the 80's, when both splitting and connection corrosion were frequent problems.

More recent problems, now that there are multiple (and some substandard) manufacturers, include:

1) some tend to split easily still, especially if they are scratched by dragging the plastic tubing through rougn joist openings or especially through brick or concrete wall holes

2) connectors continue to be a problem, with some brands not holding in the long-term (the plastic creeps out of the connector) or splitting in the connector, resulting in slow leaks

3) contractors get lazy and do not (particularly on retrofit jobs) tie it down frequently enough, so it tends to whip and slap when the water is turned on and off, resulting in rub-throughs of the tubing in as little as a year. Because it is so flexible, it actually needs to be tied down at a closer interval than copper.

4) Your best bet if you use PEX is have a contractor with years of experience, so hopefully he (through callbacks) has learned what NOT to do.

5) use the brand-name reinforced PEX, which has a visible fiber mesh reinforcement (same as good garden hoses or washing machine hoses have), and end connectors that use a solid reverse tapered metal ferrule - a solid metal part that fits inside the tubing, the tubing and outer connector part go over that, and it is crimped (also known as "barb and clamp" or "barb and crimp"). That type actually tightens on the tubing when it is pulled on. The cheap type where the tubing just fits in a grove in the one-piece connector (like a hose splice) do not grip the plastic well and tend to cut it at the crimp, resulting in failed connections - just like with hose connections. The press-in type with no crimping or clamp (Sharkbite and other brandnames) are also exhibiting leakage problems, as they do not provide an all-around uniform seal.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


Opinions will vary and there are those out there who claim plastic is not safe for holding our water. From a reliability standpoint PEX is quite common these days as an alternative to copper as long as it is installed properly. With copper prices going up not only is pex cheaper in materials here but also cheaper in labor with fewer joints. The key is finding a plumber with experience working with it. If you know you are going to sell the house get price comparisons between repairs and replacement. You won't recoup the money spent on replacement so unless repairs are quite expensive for some reason I'd go that route. I've not heard of foundation pipe repairs being as cheap as others said but maybe they aren't taking into account flooring replacement. Just compare your options.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 7 years ago by Todd's Home Services

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