Cross-Linked Polyethylene Tubing or PEX plumbing systems have become the norm in new building today with companies continue to find new and innovative uses for the resource. In addition to replacing copper tubing for many traditional plumbing needs, it is also an idea choice for radiant floor heating and now quickly becoming a popular option for fire sprinkler installations. Unfortunately all PEX systems are not uniformly configured and there are several systems to consider, hopefully this will give a little background on the different options out there.
As history will tell us, it is common for there to be many players in new technologies but eventually 1 or 2 main players with emerge and they become the standard. Early adopters of Betamax, MiniDiscs & HDDVD will tell you after shelling out small fortunes for the newest gear it can be painful to see you technology never take off. Even though Betamax was a higher quality than VHS, it matters little when the technology is gone, majority rules.
PEX plumbing systems are kind of similar, while the tubing itself is standard (PEX-a, PEX-b or PEX-c) there are several proprietary options for the fittings. One thing you don’t want to happen, if you are a professional installer, is to have your system go away and all the work you have done over many years be with the “Betamax” of PEX Systems.
The two most popular systems on the market today are the Uponor (ProPEX, Wirsbo & AquaPEX) and Viega (PureFlow, ViegaPEX & ProPress). Nothing against any other brands but we wanted to focus on these two and look at some of the differences between them.
The Uponor system uses the PEX-a tubing which is the most freeze resistant & most flexible PEX tubing available. The fitting system works by expanding the tube then inserting the fitting and utilizing the inherent shape memory of PEX to seal the fitting. Expanding the tubing allows the use of a larger-diameter fitting, which minimizes restrictions and allows higher flow rates. For 1″ tubing connections, Uponor’s ProPEX fitting has 12% greater internal diameter (i.d.) and 25% greater gallons-per-minute (gpm) flow rate than an insert fitting. This is particularly important with the increasing use of PEX in residential fire sprinkler systems, where lower-flow fittings may require larger tubing sizes and additional sprinkler heads.
The Viega PEX system uses the PEX-b tubing (although you could also use another brands PEX-a) and a pressed ring securing the PEX to the fittings. Some advantages with the pressing system is that the fitting are now available with press rings already built-in. For installation, the PEX is simply inserted into the fitting and pressed which saves time and makes it so you’ll never run out of the press rings. The downside for the pressing systems is that the fitting have a slightly smaller internal diameter (i.d.) therefore less water can get through vs an expanded fitting system on the same size PEX tube.
Shilo Plumbing uses Uponor plumbing systems featuring PEX-a tubing, which is considered the superior PEX tubing manufacturing method in the industry. PEX-a is the most flexible of all PEX types, and because of its shape and thermal memory, it can use ProPEX® expansion fittings which are the only fitting system that actually gets stronger over time – making it highly leak resistant.
Benefits of Uponor PEX Tubing over Copper and CPVC
- Flexible for fewer fittings, reduced leak-point liability
- Resists corrosion, pitting and scaling
- Retains more heat in hot-water lines
- Resists condensation on cold-water lines
- Expands up to 3X its diameter to help resist freeze damage
- Connections do not require the use of chemicals or solvents
- Offers a complete lead-free system from inlet to faucet
- NSF International certification for water purity
- Backed by a 25-year limited warranty on PEX tubing and ProPEX fittings
Uponor Logic vs. CPVC vs. Copper vs. PEX Crimp
See the amazing time savings of an Uponor Logic Plumbing installation versus other installation methods.