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Via Treehugger: PEX over copper for our plumbing


After putting up low-VOC drywalls, we are on to the water installation for yök Casa + Cultura’s eco-renovation. One of our goals is to keep the apartments 100% PVC-free. We also aim to use materials in such a way that they can be recycled in the future. And we don’t believe that all plastics are bad. When it comes to the water pipes, we think that a non-toxic plastic plumbing system is the better solution to the traditional copper one.

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© Petz Scholtus

For our pipes, we use PEX, or crosslinked polyethylene, by Uponor. The tubes are flexible, easy and quick to install, and long-lasting. Uponor explain on their blog that “the process by which copper is mined, refined, transformed into end products, and then used—such as pipe—is very energy intensive, using a great deal of non-renewable energy during its lifetime. In fact, if a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is undertaken for both PEX and copper, PEX fare much better. Simply put: during its lifetime, a PEX-based system has a lower overall energy content than a similar system made from copper.”

Copper is indeed more expensive, and even though it is also recyclable, requires a lot of energy to do so. Our workers say that installing PEX is much more comfortable than copper.

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© Marcello Cannarsa

Benefits of Uponor PEX over Copper and CPVC according to Uponor:

– 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 dangerous 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

Last but not least, the PEX we buy in Spain is made in Spain, just like our drywalls.