Why PEX Tubing Isn’t Ideal for Tub Faucets: What You Need to Know

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  • Post last modified:May 19, 2024
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PEX tubing isn’t ideal for tub faucets due to its smaller internal diameter, which reduces water pressure at the spout. The material’s flexibility also leads to pressure fluctuations, potentially compromising flow rate. PEX’s susceptibility to thermal expansion increases the risk of leaks, and compatibility issues with certain materials can be problematic. Manufacturer warnings and building code hurdles further complicate its use. Alternatives like copper or CPVC offer better pressure and temperature resilience. To thoroughly assess the best options for your setup, understanding these technical nuances is vital.

Can You Use Pex for Tub Faucet

Using PEX tubing for a tub faucet, especially between the tub/shower valve and the tub spout, is generally unadvisable due to flow rate, pressure issues, and thermal expansion concerns. PEX limitations arise mainly from its smaller internal diameter, which results in significant flow restrictions. This can lead to reduced water pressure at the tub spout, making it ineffective for filling a bathtub. Plumbing concerns also include thermal issues; PEX expands and contracts with temperature changes, posing risks of leaks or disconnections in confined spaces behind tub walls.

Installation challenges further complicate the use of PEX in this situation. Material compatibility is essential, and some manufacturers, like Uponor AquaPEX, explicitly advise against using their PEX products for these connections. Pressure problems can also be exacerbated due to PEX’s flexibility, which isn’t ideal for handling the constant pressure required for tub spout connections.

Additionally, code compliance can be a concern. In many regions, building codes may not permit PEX for this application due to the aforementioned issues. Considering these factors, exploring other pipe options such as copper or galvanized steel for tub spout connections is a more reliable and code-compliant solution.

What Are the Benefits of Using Pex for Tub Faucet

Despite the challenges of using PEX for tub spout connections, there are several notable advantages to employing PEX tubing for the broader plumbing system supporting a tub faucet. The flexibility advantages of PEX can’t be overstated—its ability to bend around corners without numerous fittings reduces potential leak points. This flexibility also contributes to installation ease, especially in tight spaces and during remodeling projects.

From a cost savings perspective, PEX is generally less expensive than copper, both in raw material costs and labor. The quicker installation process, needing fewer fittings, translates to overall lower costs.

PEX’s resistance benefits are significant. Its freezing prevention feature allows it to expand if water inside freezes, reducing the risk of burst pipes in cold climates. Additionally, PEX offers excellent corrosion resistance, making it ideal for areas with acidic or high-chlorine water, which prolongs its durability features.

The shutoff convenience offered by PEX systems using a central manifold with individual valves makes isolating and repairing sections straightforward.

However, be mindful of flow rate concerns and manufacturer recommendations, as some advise against using PEX between the tub/shower valve and tub spout due to potential flow restrictions.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using Pex for Tub Faucet

When considering PEX tubing for a tub faucet, you’ll frequently encounter notable drawbacks, particularly concerning flow rate and pressure issues. PEX tubing’s smaller internal diameter can cause flow restrictions, important for maintaining proper water pressure and tub efficiency. These restrictions can also lead to problems with the tub spout diverter, resulting in water backing up and unintentionally coming out of the showerhead.

Thermal expansion is another critical concern. PEX expands and contracts considerably with temperature changes, which can cause leaks or disconnections in the confined space behind a tub wall, compromising system reliability. Manufacturer warnings, like those from Uponor, explicitly advise against using PEX between the tub/shower valve and the tub spout due to these issues.

Compliance with local building codes is essential, and some jurisdictions may have specific restrictions on PEX usage for certain applications. Additionally, PEX’s vulnerability to damage from chemicals, pests, and UV sensitivity poses further risks. Prolonged exposure to UV light can degrade the material, reducing its lifespan.

Lastly, there are concerns about chemical leaching, including BPA and other toxic substances, which can compromise water quality. Given these factors, using PEX for tub faucets can undermine the overall efficiency and reliability of your plumbing system.

What Are the Alternatives to Pex for Tub Faucet

Given the notable disadvantages of using PEX for tub faucets, professionals often turn to alternatives like copper, CPVC, and galvanized steel pipes to guarantee efficient water flow and system reliability. Copper pipe is a top choice due to its ability to handle high flow rates without restricting water flow, ensuring a reliable tub connection. Its rigid material offers the necessary stability to support the tub spout, mitigating pressure concerns and thermal expansion issues.

CPVC pipe is another viable option. More rigid than regular PEX, CPVC can withstand higher temperatures and pressures. However, careful installation is important to avoid flow restrictions at the tub spout, ensuring excellent performance.

Galvanized steel pipe, though less common today, remains a durable alternative. It shares copper’s rigidity but is more prone to corrosion over time, necessitating regular maintenance.

For a secure connection, a brass drop-ear elbow fitting can be used, allowing PEX connections on either end while maintaining a rigid connection at the tub spout. Additionally, a Sharkbite kit offers a convenient solution, push-connecting onto 1/2′ rigid pipe (copper or CPVC) between the valve and spout, eliminating the need for soldering.

Always consult local plumbing codes to comply with specific requirements.