If you’re considering PEX for your plumbing needs, it’s essential to understand the differences between PEX A and PEX B. While both are gaining popularity as alternatives to copper pipes, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive in and explore the pros and cons of these two PEX options.
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PEX A vs PEX B: The Cost Comparison
When it comes to cost, PEX B takes the lead. While prices for materials, fittings, and sleeves may vary, PEX B generally offers a more budget-friendly option. However, it’s crucial to consider both material expenses and labor costs before making a decision.
For PEX A, the material costs are approximately $0.35 per foot, with 90º fittings at $1.00 each and sleeves at $0.15 each. To complete the installation, you’ll need a Milwaukee Automatic Expansion Tool, priced at $250.
On the other hand, PEX B comes in at approximately $0.21 per foot for the material, with 90º fittings costing $1.44 each and sleeves at $0.20 each. To join PEX B, you’ll need a Zurn manual crimp tool, priced at $150.00.
PEX A vs PEX B: Different Joining Methods
Both PEX A and PEX B may look similar in size, but their joining methods set them apart.
PEX A utilizes an expansion-style fitting, which requires an expansion tool. By enlarging the pipe and sleeve, you can easily slide in the fitting. The expandable nature of PEX A ensures a tight and secure fit once it shrinks back to its original size. This method eliminates flow restrictions and is ergonomically designed for tight spaces. However, in cold environments, it may take longer for expansion-style fittings to shrink, requiring the use of a heat gun.
PEX B, on the other hand, relies on an insert-style fitting. After inserting the fitting into the pipe, you secure it with a copper sleeve and a crimp tool. Although this method is simpler and faster, it may reduce the pipe’s diameter at the joint, leading to increased flow resistance. Additionally, it lacks the ergonomic advantages of PEX A.
PEX A vs PEX B: Flexibility Matters
When it comes to flexibility, PEX A has the upper hand. Its inherent flexibility allows for closer radial bends compared to PEX B. Furthermore, if a PEX A pipe kinks, it can be repaired using a heat gun. The heat activates the material, causing it to expand back to its original shape.
PEX B, made of the same material as PEX A, is less flexible. Repairing a kinked PEX B pipe isn’t possible; you’ll need to cut it out and start anew.
PEX A vs PEX B: Sizing Considerations
An incorrectly sized plumbing system can cause problems, and PEX B systems are more susceptible to sizing issues. The insert-style fitting of PEX B can create bottlenecks in the system, reducing water flow to your fixtures. If you choose to install PEX B, make sure to upsize your system to compensate for the flow restriction.
With PEX A’s expansion-style fitting, there is no need to worry about upsizing your system.
PEX A vs PEX B: Burst Pressure Resilience
Living in a cold climate means your plumbing system is at risk of freezing during extreme temperatures. And when pipes freeze, they may burst. PEX A outperforms PEX B in terms of burst pressure resistance. With a burst pressure of up to 500 PSI, PEX A is more reliable in extremely cold conditions. PEX B, being a more rigid material, does not hold up as well in similar situations.
The Winner: PEX A
After years of experience installing both PEX A and PEX B systems, we ultimately recommend PEX A. Not only does it come with excellent warranty coverage, but it also offers cost savings and overall superior performance.
However, if you have limited access to PEX A tools and fittings, PEX B can be a viable substitute. Just ensure you upsize your system to accommodate the flow restriction caused by the insert-style fitting.
If you have more questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to help you with your project.
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