Pex pipe and the tools needed

Does PEX Pipe Freeze

Everyone knows that pipes can freeze in the winter. Whether they are in your home or even your swimming pool, the pipes can freeze and burst. Thinking about the winter, you may wonder does PEX pipe freeze? Yes! The water inside the PEX pipes can freeze. However, the material that makes up PEX pipe will substantially reduce the possibility of freezing and bursting in your home.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways PEX pipe is unique and how you can prepare your home to reduce the possibility of frozen PEX pipes.

What Is PEX Pipe

Most of us are only familiar with copper or PVC piping in a home. However, the usage of PEX is becoming widely popular in various locations throughout. The flexibility of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) results in excellent freeze-break resistance. As you can see from the picture below, the blue and red pipes are PEX piping and they can run throughout the entire house. They bring hot water or cold water throughout your home safely and easily.

Pex Pipe in a ceiling as it connects through a home.
Ceiling Pex Pipe in new construction

Can PEX Pipe Freeze

Due to the flexibility of PEX pipes, they can expand under pressure. If it is below 20 degrees, then the PEX pipes can and will freeze due to the ice formation. There is little room for expansion so damaging pressure is created.

The biggest question for PEX material is can it be overstressed? The flexible nature of PEX is what makes it so resistant to freezing. If you compare the PEX material to other pipes, you can see how copper or PVC can become stressed and burst when freezing. Thankfully, the PEX materials allow flexibility and can accommodate the pressure build-up in the pipes as the water freezes.

If you ever have a situation when the PEX pipe freezes, there are a few ways to promote the thawing process:

  • Use hot water on the pipes
  • Soak hot towels for the pipes
  • Use a hand-held fan
  • Get a commercial system that pumps heated water through a tube to the frozen section and returns the cooled water for reheating
  • Consider using low-wattage electrical heating tape

How Can I Keep My PEX Pipe From Freezing

Fortunately, PEX pipes will expand as they freeze and reduce back to their original form when thawed. However, it is important to insulate the pipes just as you would any other pipes in your home. PEX pipes are not freeze-proof, however, there are ways to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Let’s examine a list of ways that you can reduce the chances of the pipes freezing.

  • You should run your faucets on a drip so water continues to flow.
  • It’s a good idea to shut off the water to your outside hose and drain the pipes.
  • Maintain the temperature in your home above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ensure that proper insulation takes place in your attic, garage, and basement.
  • Consider installing a water monitor to alert you when temperatures might get to a freezing point in the room.
  • Also, consider installing a frost-free sillcock.

Advantages of PEX Pipes

We talked about the disadvantages of PEX pipes above, but there are also many advantages over other piping materials such as:

  1. Adaptable and easy to use
  2. Easy to connect
  3. Have a shut-off valve
  4. Resistant to chemicals
  5. Lead-free
  6. Can be used in hot and cold water

Cost To Fix Burst Pipes

No one wants to come across a situation where their pipes have burst due to freezing. When it is cold outside, It is always best to attempt some of the preventative tips provided above to reduce the chances of a pipe bursting. It could cost upwards of $5,000 to repair a burst pipe in your home.

Other Maintenance Ideas

While you are preparing your PEX pipes for potentially freezing conditions by conducting your preventative maintenance. You can also consider doing the following:

If you are lucky to have a home in the south for the winter, when you return to Colorado, you will need to de-winterize your home. This includes turning on the plumbing fixtures and checking the pipes for any leaks.

Also, check to make sure your water heater is working. You don’t want to be taking cold showers! If it is not working, it could be there is a short in the heating element, a wire is loose or the reset button is malfunctioning.

Pex Pipe and a Pipe Cutter to show repair potential.
Pex Pipe and pipe cutter

When Should I Call A Professional

Call a professional if you have questions about the type of pipes to use, what kind you have in your home, or any other pipe issues. They know what will work well in your home and the potential for freezing conditions. You will want to hire a master plumber to ensure the installation is done correctly and the pipes should be installed correctly.

Conclusion

In this case, calling a professional plumber to ensure that you have the proper water pipes (PEX Pipe material) installed in your home, will allow for peace of mind in the winter. PEX pipes are a lot more resistant to freezing and bursting when used inside the home. If you have a concern about the pipes inside your home, please reach out to Colorado Inspection Team in Castle Rock, CO, and its surrounding area for a proper home inspection.

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