Can PEX Plumbing Freeze in Illinois?

PEX plumbing is becoming increasingly popular and can provide numerous important benefits compared to using copper pipes. It usually doesn’t make sense to switch from copper pipes to PEX plumbing unless you’re doing a major renovation. Nonetheless, if you’re building a new home or your water lines need to be replaced for any reason, PEX is definitely something you should seriously consider.

One of the most common questions that we’re asked about PEX plumbing is whether or not it can freeze, and unfortunately, the answer is yes. However, it is far less susceptible to freezing than copper plumbing as it can withstand much colder temperatures. If PEX plumbing does freeze, it is also easier and less expensive to repair. To understand why this is, we’ll now take a look at exactly what PEX plumbing is and how it works.

An Introduction to PEX Plumbing

Most homes use copper pipes to supply water throughout the house. With copper plumbing, you have two main water lines that run throughout the building. One line supplies hot water to all of your fixtures and one supplies cold. These lines run through the length of your house and then branch off in various places to supply water to each room. In turn, the line running through your bathroom walls may have additional branches that supply the toilet, sink, shower, washing machine, etc.

With PEX plumbing, your home’s main water supply and the supply coming from your water heater both connect to a central manifold. The plumbing manifold has numerous outlets where you can connect flexible PEX piping. Instead of running a pipe throughout the home and branching off to each fixture, PEX plumbing uses separate, dedicated water lines for every single fixture.

Your kitchen sink has separate hot and cold water lines that run directly from the manifold to the faucet and feed only it, and the same is true for every other fixture inside and outside the house. Some fixtures like your toilets and hose bibs will only have one water line running to them since they don’t need hot water.

Why PEX Water Lines Are Less Likely to Freeze Than Copper Pipes

PEX plumbing provides many benefits over using traditional copper pipes, and one of the biggest is that it is much less prone to freezing. Copper is a very poor insulator. When copper pipes are exposed to cold temperatures, the cold easily penetrates through the pipe into the water inside it.

Unless you have a plumbing fixture turned on, water will sit still inside your pipes. When water isn’t moving, it will obviously quickly start to freeze if it gets cold enough.

Depending on the ground temperature, the water coming into your house during the winter may only be a few degrees above freezing. This means that it can quickly freeze in cold temperatures since the copper pipe will absorb cold from the air.

PEX pipes are made from cross-threaded polyethylene, and this material is a much better insulator than copper. As a result, the cold air won’t be able to penetrate the PEX pipe nearly as easily and thus will have less of an impact on the temperature of the water inside the lines.

Other Differences Between PEX and Copper Plumbing

PEX plumbing is usually much less prone to leaking than copper water lines. Copper water lines require a huge number of fittings. The more fittings the system has, the more places it has that can fail and start leaking. Every individual branch requires at least one fitting where the branch meets the main water line and another connection at the fixture. Copper piping is also rigid, which means additional fittings are required each time the pipe changes angle or direction.

With a PEX system, each water line has only two fittings—one at the fixture and one at the manifold. This greatly reduces the chances of leaking. In addition, if one of the water lines does develop a leak, you can shut off the water supply to that line only without affecting any other fixture. For instance, if the hot water line that supplies your kitchen sink leaks, you would still be able to use cold water in your sink and every other fixture in your home. This is because the plumbing manifold has individual shut-off valves at each outlet.

PEX pipes also don’t need to be soldered like copper plumbing, which makes them easier and faster to install. Copper pipes are also far more expensive than PEX piping. These two factors combined mean that using PEX usually costs much less than using copper.

If your water lines are old and you’re considering upgrading to PEX plumbing, the expert team at BELOMAN is ready to help. We install and repair all types of water and sewer lines for both residential and commercial customers in Belleville and the surrounding areas. Our team also installs and services water heaters and all other plumbing fixtures. To learn more about the benefits of PEX plumbing, give us a call today.