If you’re a homeowner or a plumber new to the trade, you’ve likely heard about the growing popularity of PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) in residential plumbing. This innovative piping option has been steadily replacing copper due to its longevity, cost-effectiveness, and ease of installation. However, there are two dominant types of PEX, PEX A and PEX B, each with its own unique characteristics. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of PEX A and PEX B to help you make an informed decision.

PEX A vs PEX B: Cost

While the cost of materials, fittings, and sleeves for PEX A and PEX B can fluctuate, PEX B is generally the more affordable option. However, it’s important to consider labor and installation costs when evaluating overall expenses.

  • PEX A:

    • Material: $0.35/foot
    • 90º fittings: $1.00/each
    • Sleeves: $0.15/each
    • Tool: Milwaukee Automatic Expansion Tool, $250
  • PEX B:

    • Material: $0.21/foot
    • 90º fittings: $1.44/each
    • Sleeves: $0.20/each
    • Tool: Zurn manual crimp tool, $150.00

PEX A vs PEX B: Joining Method

The joining method used for PEX A and PEX B is an important consideration, as it affects ease of installation and potential flow restrictions.

  • PEX A:

    • Expansion-style fitting: PEX A fittings are larger in diameter and require an expansion tool. This allows for a secure and snug fit, eliminating the risk of flow restriction. While it may take longer for expansion-style fittings to shrink back down to their original size in cold environments, the use of a heat gun can speed up the process.
  • PEX B:

    • Insert-style fitting: PEX B fittings are smaller in diameter and are secured in place using a copper sleeve and a crimp tool. This joining method may result in a slight decrease in flow and a smaller volume of water to fixtures in your home. Additionally, the crimping process requires precision to avoid potential leaks.

PEX A vs PEX B: Flexibility

Flexibility is an essential factor when considering PEX A and PEX B, especially when it comes to making bends and repairing kinks.

  • PEX A:

    • PEX A is highly flexible, allowing for closer radial bends. If a PEX A pipe kinks, it can be easily repaired using a heat gun. The material will expand back to its original shape, ensuring optimal flow.
  • PEX B:

    • PEX B shares similar material properties to PEX A but is less flexible. If a PEX B pipe kinks, it cannot be repaired, requiring complete replacement.

PEX A vs PEX B: Sizing the System

Properly sizing your plumbing system is crucial for optimal performance and flow.

  • PEX A:

    • Due to its expansion-style fitting, PEX A does not require upsizing the system as it eliminates flow restrictions.
  • PEX B:

    • The insert-style fitting used in PEX B plumbing systems can cause bottlenecks and restrict flow. If you choose PEX B, it’s important to upsize your system to account for this restriction.

PEX A vs PEX B: Burst Pressure

Living in a cold environment poses the risk of frozen pipes and potential bursts. The burst pressure of PEX A and PEX B differs.

  • PEX A:

    • PEX A’s expansive material can handle up to 500 PSI, making it more resistant to burst pressure. It performs reliably even in extremely cold temperatures.
  • PEX B:

    • PEX B, being a more rigid material, is not as resilient to burst pressure as PEX A. It is more susceptible to damage in freezing conditions.

Winner: PEX A

After years of installing both PEX A and PEX B systems in various projects, we ultimately prefer PEX A. From a warranty and cost-savings perspective, PEX A proves to be the superior choice. However, if you have limited access to PEX A tools and fittings, PEX B is a suitable alternative. Just ensure you upsize your system to accommodate flow restrictions and use proper techniques when joining the pipes.

Have More Questions?

If you have further inquiries or need assistance with your project, feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to help and guide you on your plumbing journey.

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