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PEX piping was welcomed as the next best thing to supply our plumbing fixtures and faucets with water once it hit the Vancouver Island construction industry in the 1980’s.
PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is simple to install and cheaper than copper for warm and cold water piping; it bends around corners, connections are easy to form, and since it has pliable characteristics, fewer copper or brass crimp ring fittings are required. PEX additionally handles the cold winter nights better than other piping and it isn’t affected by the acidic water commonly found in various Vancouver Island locations.
PEX has recently had massive problems. The brass connectors and fittings that made the installation so simple started to react with chemicals in the water. Zinc (an element of brass) within the fittings leached into the pipe during a reaction referred to as ‘dezincification’. The corrosion that forms on the interior side of the pipe can create a blockage of zinc oxide that may results in leaks, restricted water flow and or even breakage. Furthermore, since the piping is usually hidden in walls and floors, damage to the building components may not be noticed until they become serious. A large number of home homeowners are tormented by failing PEX connectors and class-action lawsuits have been successfully launched on both sides of the border.
How to discover problem PEX?
PEX piping is most typically factory-made in Orange (hot water) and Blue (cold water), however is also popular in red, white, gray and black. Inspect the piping at the hot water tank or beneath plumbing fixtures to identify the type of supply plumbing. Homes that were designed or re-piped between 1995-2007 are at greatest risk. If you think you may have this product have a qualified plumber, verify the piping system in your home.
Problems found so far are with the subsequent products:
IPEX INC – sold as kitec, Plumb Better, IPEX, AQUA, WARMRITE, Kitex XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls, PlomberieAmelioree
ZURN PEX – sold as QPex
UponerInc – sold as Plasco Plumb-PEX, P Pex, MB Pex
The listed manufacturers are, or have nowadays been, involved in litigation.
Brass connectors and fittings remain the foremost, however those sold nowadays contain less zinc and aren’t as sensitive to the corrosion issues found in older systems. Fittings also are accessible in plastic, bronze and stainless-steel. PEX piping can probably stay the dominant technology for domestic water piping and hydronic heating systems for all the same reasons that made it so popular.
Last Update: October 5, 2016