How To Insulate PEX Pipes

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

While it's true that PEX pipes are durable, it doesn't mean that they won't succumb to extremely cold or hot temperatures. If you want to extend the lifespan of your PEX pipes, it's best to have them insulated. Don't know how? That's what we'll talk about today. We've consulted experts, and here's what they taught us about insulating PEX pipes.

You can use foam pipe insulation to insulate your PEX pipes. To install this, you need to:

  1. Clean the pipe's surface.
  2. Open the slit-side of the foam sleeve to cover the pipe.
  3. Remove the adhesive tape to seal the seams.
  4. Use contact cement to connect one end of insulation to another.

Keep on reading so we can teach you how to insulate your PEX pipes properly. This article will also answer if PEX pipes are better than PVC and how long PEX pipes last. Let's get started!

A PEX pipes and mounting tools on the table,How To Insulate PEX Pipes

What is the best way to insulate PEX pipes?

PEX pipes are preferred by more plumbers because of their affordability and durability. Installing PEX, short for cross-linked polyethylene, in a 1,500 square foot home will only cost an average of $5,000 compared to copper that can go as high as $10,000.

PEX pipes are reliable. They will not corrode or form scales. These pipes are also very flexible and can expand up to three times the size of their diameter. They are also able to shift to their original size once the pressure subsides. This is what makes them a great material for plumbing as they can endure cold and hot temperatures without breaking.

Sharkbite fittings with red and blue PEX pipe

However, we are not saying that PEX pipes won't break at all when subjected to extreme pressure. They will also yield at a certain temperature, and it would cause the pipes to break.

To avoid this from happening, it's best to insulate your PEX pipes to give them proper protection from temperature changes. In turn, this will help mitigate the risk of bursting pipes and the costly water damage that comes after.

But considering PEX pipes' nature to expand and contract depending on the temperature, you would also need to use a product that's flexible to be able to accommodate the pipes' changes in size. Because of this, experts say that the best material to use for PEX pipe insulation is foam.

There are foam pipe sleeves that are readily available on the market for those who are interested to do this as a DIY home improvement project.

Check out this foam pipe insulation on Amazon.

Here are the steps to insulating PEX pipes properly.

Insulating PEX Pipes

Pre-insulated pipes with double lines for an energy efficient heating system

  1. Clean the pipes' surface to remove any dirt, moisture, and oil that has accumulated over the surfaces. You can use an old cloth or clean rag to do this.
  2. Place the foam pipe insulation over the PEX pipes. Just open the slit side and let it conform to the shape of the pipe.
  3. Rotate the foam sleeve so that the slit side is facing you. Remove the adhesive tape inside the seams.
  4. Push the seams together to seal the insulation.
  5. Install the next piece of insulation in the same way.
  6. Use contact cement to seal the two ends of the foam insulation together. Press the ends together for about 30 seconds after applying the cement to ensure that they bond properly.
  7. Follow these steps until all the surfaces of the PEX pipes are covered with foam insulation.

Click this link to find this contact cement on Amazon.

As you can see, installing foam pipe insulation on your PEX pipes is so easy. You don't need to use any special tools for the job. The foam comes with adhesive tape making it very convenient for users to install this material over the pipes.

It'll only take a little of your time, and yet you'll be able to give your pipes lasting protection and help extend their lifespan for years.

Is PEX better than PVC?

PEX or cross-link polyethylene and PVC or polyvinyl chloride are both kinds of plastic pipes commonly used in residential plumbing. Both are classified as thermoplastics.

This means that their states will change depending on the temperature. They can become glassy when it gets really cold, and they can turn into liquid when the temperature gets really hot.

Each material has its own pros and cons that we'll discuss in detail.

PVC

PVC Pipe connections

Pros

PVC is widely available on the market because there are many manufacturers of these plastic pipes. These pipes are also very durable. Experts say they have a life expectancy of up to 70 years or even more. These pipes are also very affordable, which is also why they are a popular choice for home plumbing.

PVC is perfectly safe to use above the ground or outdoors, although coating them with special paint will help them last better against the harmful UV rays.

These pipes are also eco-friendly. If you need to have your PVC pipes replaced, you can have them recycled so that they won't add up to our environmental wastes.

Cons

Some PVC types are very rigid that you can't mold them into bends and curves. This means that you'll need more elbows to connect one part to another. The more elbows there are, the greater possibility of water leaks, especially when they aren't installed properly or when the adhesives deteriorate over time.

PVC pipes can only be used for cold water plumbing systems. They have lower heat resistance which limits their usage in plumbing.

PEX

Pros

PEX performs better under extreme temperatures. It is made of flexible material that can contract when the temperature is hot and expand when the temperature gets cold. This flexibility is valuable in plumbing since it reduces the risk of pipes bursting and causing huge damages to homes.

It is also easier to install PEX since they are flexible. They can be molded into different shapes to form bends and curves as needed. This eliminates the use of elbows or connectors. This translates to fewer sources of possible leaks. When metal connections are required, it is better to use PEX than PVC because it won't corrode.

Since they are easy to install, the labor cost for installation is also lower. PEX pipes also don't create much noise when you use them, unlike other plastic pipes.

Cons

PEX pipes are more expensive than PVC pipes. They aren't recommended for outdoor use because they can't endure the harsh UV rays. There have also been issues regarding water contamination when using these pipes, but this can be avoided by using impermeable tubing.

The Verdict

You can use a combination of PVC and PEX pipes for your home plumbing. They are both durable and more affordable than copper. You can use PVC for your outdoor or above the ground plumbing and use PEX for your indoor plumbing and pipes for your hot water system.

How long does PEX pipe last?

Water pipes PEX and mounting tools on the table

PEX pipes quickly became a popular choice for home plumbing because of their affordability and durability. As mentioned earlier, copper pipes cost twice as much as PEX pipes.

When it comes to life expectancy, PEX pipes are said to last for as long as 50 years. Since PEX pipes have only been introduced to the US market some 40 years ago, long-term testing for the durability of these products is still ongoing.

But reports point out that these pipes have the potential to last for 100 years or more with proper usage and maintenance. They aren't prone to corrosion that could lead to pinhole leaks. That's why there won't be any need for homeowners to replace their plumbing systems as long as their pipes are properly maintained.

Various factors can affect the lifespan of PEX pipes. These include exposure to extreme temperatures, UV rays, and the presence of rodents.

PEX pipes have been tested to endure temperatures as high as 200 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these pipes aren't meant to be used outdoors, where they'll be directly exposed to harsh UV rays. These can weaken their material and cause them to break. Meanwhile, rodents can chew on these pipes and damage their surfaces.

PEX pipes are recommended to be used underground and indoors so that you can maximize their lifespan. Make sure that there are no rodents in their location, and it's also best to use proper insulation to give your pipes the best protection.

Final Thoughts

Use foam sleeves to insulate your PEX pipes. This is an easy task for DIYers and one that'll greatly benefit your PEX pipes. The foam insulation will protect them from temperature changes and help extend their lifespan. That's how you get the most out of your PEX pipes.

For your home insulation resources, you may visit the following links:

How To Insulate Garage Door Sides

How To Insulate Crawl Space Walls

Leave a Reply