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Many customers ask what the difference is between Copper, PEX, and Epoxy Lining when considering a home re-pipe. How do you know which is best? After more than 40 years in the construction and remodeling business, here is what I’ve learned:

Copper, PEX, and Epoxy Lining:

All pipe restoration projects, regardless of type, require the Customer to perform the following before work can begin:

  1. Purchase boxes, tape, wrapping paper, and permanent marker.
  2. Pack all items under all sinks and move away from the work area.
  3. Move and relocate away from the work area all refrigerators having water service. Replace when completed.
  4. Move the washer and dryer away from the work area. Replace when completed.
  5. Clear the area surrounding the hot water heater.
  6. Trim or remove all plants around water service and hose bibs.
  7. Remove all items within 2 feet of all access panels.
  8. Minimum 1/2 of the garage floor space is required for the storage and security of tools, equipment, and materials.
  9. Clear and unobstructed 3′ width path to all locations and a 5’Lx5’D workspace in front of all fixtures.

Here are the more significant differences between Copper, PEX, and Epoxy Lining:

Days to complete (typical)

Copper: 2-3

PEX: 2-3

Epoxy: 2-3

Note: Pipe restoration only; wall repairs increases time

Warranty (materials/workmanship)

Copper: 50/50

PEX: 25/25

Epoxy: 10/10

Note: Materials is a direct manufactures warranty

Can I live in the house?1

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy:?

Warranty (materials/workmanship)

Copper: 50/50

PEX: 25/25

Epoxy: 10/10

Note: Materials is a direct manufactures warranty

Permits required?

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Fire Code approved?

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Will house be without water?2

Copper: No

PEX: No

Epoxy: Yes

Note: Epoxy: No water whatsoever for 2-3 days

Will house have water at night?

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Epoxy: buckets are filled with water to flush toilets

Water company purification damage

Copper:?

PEX:?

Epoxy:?

Note: Possible with all; voids all warranties

Open drywall at washer box

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Open drywall at refrigerator water box

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Open drywall for tub valves

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Note: Epoxy: If proper adaptor is not available, yes

Open drywall for shower valves

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Note: Epoxy: If proper adaptor is not available, yes

Remove tile for valve replacement

Copper:?

PEX:?

Epoxy:?

Note: Possible, depends on the location

Replace all hose bibs

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Replace refrigerator box and valve

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Epoxy: Replaces valve only with angle stop

Replace washing machine hoses

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Replace with steel braided hoses

Replace dryer vent duct

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Replace with 1-piece aluminum flexible duct

Replace dryer gas valve

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Replace dryer vent duct

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Replace with 1-piece aluminum flexible duct

Replace dryer flex gas line

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Replace/treat all water lines3

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Replace all angle stops

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Replace with 1/4-turn chrome ball valves

Replace all angle stop escutcheons

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Replace fixture water supply hoses

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Note: Replace with steel braided hoses

Replace shower valves

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy:?

Note: Epoxy: If proper adaptor is not available, yes

Replace tub (tub/shower) valves

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy:?

Note: Epoxy: If proper adaptor is not available, yes

Replace water heater flex connections

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Replace water heater ball valve

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Replace pressure regulator

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Replace water supply ball valve

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Hot water limitations

Copper: No

PEX: No

Epoxy: Yes

Note: Epoxy: Water temp. cannot exceed 145°F

Contractor schedules inspection

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Epoxy: Customer responsible for scheduling

Contractor present for inspection4

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: No

Note: Epoxy: Customer must be present

Wall patching required after work*

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Note: More with copper and PEX

Painting required after work*

Copper: Yes

PEX: Yes

Epoxy: Yes

Note: More with copper and PEX

* Typically requires another 2-4 days to complete.

1Epoxy: Considering the multitude of hoses running throughout the house and garage, equipment, and protective mats on the floor, living in the house during the epoxy restoration process would be very challenging at best. This is especially true for those with disabilities, impaired movement or vision, small children, and four legged pets.

2With Cooper and PEX re-pipe, typically only on the day of transition from the old system to the new system is the water off for the work day.

3Epoxy: Not all water pipes are treated. Pipes supplying water to body sprays from the diverter valves in showers; tub deck hand showers and the like do not receive epoxy. Therefore, these can develop leaks.

4Epoxy: Customer is responsible for scheduling the required Building Department inspection and must be present for the inspection. This requires customer to remain physically at home until the inspector completes his work (typically 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Customer is also responsible for answering all inspector questions concerning epoxy work.

(For a side-by-side comparison table of the preceding information, please see our website at https://www.dadsconstruction.com/articles/repipe-vs-epoxy.html )

Summary

All things considered, for the average home, performing a PEX re-pipe is best. Why? Primarily because it’s a new, almost continuous piping system with fewer connections vs. altering an older existing system that typically contains weakened and damaged materials. When a PEX re-pipe replaces all the valves and fixtures, the entire water system is fresh and clean, free of lead, and free of mineral corrosion and contamination. PEX also appears to hold up better against water company chemicals and gases used during the water purification process.

Home Water Pipe Restoration Options