Is PEX Good for Cold Weather? (Solved & Explained)

Over the years, I’ve installed more than a few football fields worth of PEX piping in cold climates.

Is PEX good for cold weather?

Pex piping is good for cold weather climates. PEX is less likely to freeze and burst in freezing temperatures than traditional metal or PVC pipes. PEX is flexible. It expands and contracts as the temperature changes, preventing cracks and leaks. PEX also lasts longer in extreme temperatures.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about, “Is PEX Good for Cold Weather?”

What Is PEX?

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PEX piping—Is PEX Good for Cold Weather
Image by the author via Canva—Is PEX Good for Cold Weather?

PEX is short for cross-linked polyethylene piping.

PEX is a type of plastic piping that is widely used in residential and commercial plumbing applications. PEX is made by extruding a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin material into a tubular shape and then applying a cross-linking agent to the HDPE molecules.

The resulting product is a pipe that is strong, flexible, and resistant to freezing and leaching.

PEX is an excellent alternative to copper or other metal piping, and it can be used for both hot and cold water applications. PEX is easy to install, and it doesn’t require soldering.

Instead, it’s installed with mechanical fittings.

3 Reasons PEX Is Good for Cold Weather

There are three good reasons that PEX is good for colder weather.

Let’s take a look at each reason to see why PEX should be your number one choice for piping.

PEX Is Freeze Reistant

PEX piping is resistant to freezing, but it is not freeze-proof.

The secret to its success lies in its flexibility. When water freezes, it expands. This expansion usually puts pressure on pipes, causing them to crack or break.

PEX piping is designed to expand and contract along with the water, lessening the chance of a rupture.

In addition, PEX is less likely to sweat or drip than other types of piping, making it ideal for use in cold weather. As a result, PEX piping is an excellent choice for homes and businesses in colder climates.

PEX Is Made for Winter Weather

PEX piping is made of cross-linked polyethylene, which is a type of plastic.

The cross-linking process creates bonds between the molecules in the polymer, making it stronger and more resistant to changes in temperature. This means that PEX can withstand freezing temperatures without cracking or breaking.

PEX Lasts Longer

PEX piping is made from cross-linked polyethylene, which is a type of plastic that is highly resistant to both breaking and corrosion.

This makes it an ideal material for plumbing and other applications where long-term durability is a must.

As a result, PEX piping often lasts much longer than traditional copper or plastic piping. In fact, PEX has been shown to last up to 100 years in some applications.

That’s ten times the longevity of other types of piping.

This remarkable staying power can save you a lot of money on repairs and replacements over the lifetime of your home or business.

Additionally, it can give you peace of mind knowing that your pipes are not likely to fail in the middle of a cold winter night. When it comes to plumbing, PEX is simply the clear choice for long-term reliability.

How Cold Can PEX Withstand?

PEX can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

This makes it an ideal choice for homes in colder climates where traditional copper or plastic piping might freeze and burst. Of course, PEX is not invulnerable to the cold.

If the temperature drops below -40 degrees Fahrenheit, the pipe will begin to harden and could eventually crack.

However, this is unlikely to happen unless the pipes are exposed to extended periods of extremely cold weather.

As with any exposed piping, it’s recommended to insulate for added protection from the elements.

Thanks to its impressive freezing resistance, PEX piping is a popular choice for both residential and commercial applications.

Can PEX Freeze?

Yes, PEX can freeze.

While PEX is more resilient and resistant to freezing than other piping, it is not invulnerable.

Customers and clients often ask me about PEX freezing in certain spaces in their homes or office buildings. We’ll answer two of the most common questions now.

Will PEX Freeze in the Attic?

PEX is unlikely to freeze in the attic.

PEX is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which has a much higher freezing point than traditional pipes. In addition, PEX is sometimes filled with a glycol-based antifreeze solution, which further increases its resistance to freezing.

As a result, PEX is an ideal choice for homes in cold climates.

Even if the temperature in your attic dips below freezing, the chances are good that your PEX piping will remain intact.

Of course, no material is completely impervious to the elements, so it’s still a good idea to take steps to insulate and protect your piping.

Will PEX freeze in a Crawl Space?

PEX will typically not freeze in a crawl space.

While it depends on the severity and length of freezing temperatures, PEX is known to withstand even the most extreme conditions.

As with PEX in any part of your house, I highly recommend that you take every available step to protect it from cold weather.

Every small action you take will only prevent costly and frustrating trouble in the future.

Does PEX Need to be Insulated?

PEX does need to be insulated.

While PEX is flexible, durable, and resistant to freezing temperatures and high water pressure, it is still susceptible to cold weather damage.

Insulating PEX helps to prevent the pipe from freezing, cracking, or bursting.

There are a few different ways to insulate PEX piping. One common method is to use pre-insulated pipes, which have an insulation layer already attached.

Another option is to wrap the pipe in insulation material, such as foam or fiberglass.

When insulating PEX piping, it is important to use materials that will not degrade or deteriorate over time due to exposure to moisture or chemicals.

Some common insulation materials that are safe for use with PEX include polyurethane foam and closed-cell rubber foam.

With proper insulation, PEX piping can withstand freezing temperatures and provide long-lasting performance.

How Much Does PEX Expand and Contract?

PEX piping expands and contracts 1-2.5 inches for every 100 feet of length with every 10°F temperature change.

When the temperature rises by 60 degrees, 100 feet might expand up to 15 inches.

Therefore, PEX does not have to be stretched tight during installation. If the piping is pulled too tight during installation, it can cause the pipes to crack or break.

In addition, the fittings can come loose, which can lead to leaks.

If the piping is not properly supported, it can also sag over time, which can cause problems with drainage. In extreme cases, the pipes may even collapse.

As a result, it is important to make sure that PEX piping is installed correctly in order to avoid these potential problems.

PEX vs Copper: Which Is Best in Freezing Temperatures?

Both copper and PEX are common types of pipes in plumbing.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but how do they compare when it comes to freezing temperatures?

Here is a closer look at the two materials to help you make the best choice for your home.

Copper is a tried-and-true material that has been used for plumbing for centuries. It is durable and resists corrosion, so it can handle some of the coldest temperatures. However, copper is also very expensive, and it can be difficult to work with.

PEX, on the other hand, is a newer material that is made from cross-linked polyethylene.

It is flexible and easy to work with, making it a popular choice for do-it-yourselfers. And while PEX can freeze just like any other pipe material, it is less likely to burst in extremely cold weather.

So, which is the better choice?

No matter if you live in an area with mild or severe winters, PEX may be the way to go.

However, if you’re concerned about using classic piping or animals eating your piping (it happens), you might want to consider coppper.

Here is a good video that tests PEX against Copper piping in freezing temperatures:

YouTube video by 1 Tom Plumber—Is PEX Good for Cold Weather?

Is PEX Better Than PVC for Freezing?

PEX is better than PVC for freezing.

PEX is a plastic tubing that is flexible and durable, making it ideal for freezing temperatures. However, it is slightly more expensive than PVC.

PVC is less flexible than PEX and not as durable in freezing temperatures.

Also, hot water and UV light can damage PVC piping. PEX is not vulnerable to these same weaknesses.

Therefore, in nearly every way, PEX is the superior choice in cold weather.

Final Thoughts: Is PEX Good for Cold Weather?

If you’re looking for an affordable, durable, and easy-to-use plumbing option, PEX is the way to go.

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Sources

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
Consumer Reports