Answering Questions About PEX Tubing And Water Safety

While they have many redeeming qualities, copper plumbing pipes are expensive and can be clunky to work with. For many decades, plumbers just dealt with these issues as a cost of doing business, but in recent years a new alternative has emerged. PEX tubing is far less expensive than other options, making it very attractive to contractors and consumers on budget.

“A 2012 comparison showed PEX pipe was the least expensive among plastic pipes, costing 43 cents per foot compared to the most expensive metal, copper pipe, at $2.55 per foot,” explains Angie’s List.

However, any time you’re cutting prices you have to wonder about whether you’re cutting quality as well. Since installing PEX tubing has a direct impact on the drinking water of a home or business, people definitely want to know whether PEX is safe.

If your clients are asking questions about PEX tubing and water safety, here are some pertinent facts you need to know.

Potential Problems

Complaints from a small percentage of customers who’ve had PEX tubing installed in their home mostly revolve around strange smells or tastes.

Researcher Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor of civil engineering at Purdue University, recalls a situation in which a homeowner had PEX tubing installed at their multi-million dollar home, then called the contractor complaining about a gasoline-like odor emanating from the faucets in a certain bath water.

“By testing tap water from the home, Whelton's team discovered that toluene, a solvent used for plastic resin synthesis was present above levels where odors would be detected. The level of solvent, however, did not exceed health standards,” reports Angie’s List.

Results Of Current Safety Tests

As you can probably guess, this issue is concerning for both homeowners and contractors who’d rather not be sued for contaminating someone’s water supply. So what do industry safety tests reveal?

According to the Plastic Pipe And Fittings Association, PEX meets all safety standards of the The National Sanitation Foundation, which conducts 21-day tests of a wide variety of plumbing materials to see if they leach contaminants into the water. Still, some researchers, like Whelton, say more extensive testing must be done to pinpoint the causes of odors and funny tastes reported by homeowners.

Preventing PEX Water Quality Issues

For those who want to be extra safe, it can be advisable to use a water filter on faucets that will be used for drinking water. It can also be a good idea to advise your clients on how to flush the piping system on a regular basis. This can combat possible contamination of water that stands stagnant in the pipes.