I would like to say welcome to my blog! Because I’m one of those guys who adore helping people, I would like to share some information with you, which hopefully will save you some money and also make you more confident in your DIY endeavors! I’ve had great pleasure sorting out many plumbing problems for my customers during my 10+ years in this industry, and hopefully can also help you out.
PEX materials have become very popular with plumbers of late, probably down to their durability and efficiency. They have also become more affordable, so if cost is an implication for you, as it is for most of us, then PEX is the way to go! PEX pipes are probably one of the commonly used materials and are made from cross-linked polyethylene. I prefer them as an alternative to PVCs (Polyvinyl chloride) and copper because they are extremely resilient to temperatures changes and chemical corrosion. Due to this versatility, they are suitable for a wide range of applications, including plumbing and radiant heating systems for domestic and industrial use.
Types of PEX pipes
It will depend on what you want to use them for, but, basically there are 3 types of PEX pipes available to choose from, including PEX-a, PEX-b and PEX-c. Although all PEX pipes are constructed using different processes, their structure is similar. They are made by cross-linking polyethylene molecules to one another, and the end result is an extremely strong substance. Although you don’t really need to know the processes involved, it will help you to have an understanding of the products you are about to use.
The classification is based on the grade of material used in terms of their strength and flexibility. PEX-a, PEX-b and PEX-c are the three types made from different processes with the quality being classified as A being the highest, followed by B, and then C.
PEX-a is made using the Engel process, which uses peroxide to assist in the process of cross-linking the polyethylene molecules using extreme degrees of heat, to that which is above the melting point of peroxide crystals. This process means that PEX-a materials are extremely strong, with little, (or even no,) points of weakness.
PEX-b pipes are made using a different process, called ‘moisture cure.’ This uses a group of silicon hydroxides, (similar to paraffin hydrocarbons,) called Silane. The cross-linking process is helped by using a certain degree of heat and moisture. However, this method can expose some weaknesses because the chemical bonds are not as strong as in PEX-a. Therefore PEX-b is not as strong as PEX-a, but is stiffer and therefore may be suitable for the application you have in mind.
PEX-c is made by passing the polyethylene molecules below an electronic beam several times, in order to achieve the appropriate cross-linking. While this may be the most energy-efficient technique, PEX tubing produced in this way is not usually as strong as PEX-a or PEX-b. PEX-c can be rather fragile and less consistent, compared to A or B. But as a plus point, they are less expensive and suitable for domestic use. This is especially true when the environment is less susceptible to roughness.