Sure, we’re heavily used to receiving our drinking waters from galvanized metal pipes, but the flexibility and adaptability of the PEX pipes are fast making their way into the American heart.
Unfortunately, not all states would agree to appreciate this plastic wonder. And no matter how keen you are on trying those red and blue pipes, your hands are tied if the state doesn’t allow it.
So, where and why is PEX banned?
It’s not largely banned anymore in any of the states as we’re speaking. Yet there are some areas that still don’t approve of the use of plastics for local plumbing. Let’s find out if you’re all good for some PEX connection or not.
Is Pex Legal In All States?
PEX is legal in all states now.
Before heading towards the nearest hardware store, you should know that not all local policies fall under state laws.
Challenges With Approval
PEX plastic plumbing pipe was introduced first in the 60s. After going through a phase of several trials and errors, the tubing system started to gain popularity in American households.
The flexibility, ability to expand under crucial temperatures, and easy fitting compatibility quickly made it a popular choice for heating and water supply lines.
However, the issue rose when it came to the matter of drinking water supply. American drinking water filtration and supply works a bit differently than European standards, so that was bound to happen.
Many states believed that the pipe quality doesn’t meet their water supply code. And then there’s the issue of water safety. Due to these reasons, many states didn’t approve PEX crosslinking for the buildings the right way.
Legal By Major Codes
Over the years, there has been ongoing back and forth about the PEX argument, whether it’s the right choice for residential plumbing. And after a thorough assessment, the tubing has been approved for use by the major building codes.
In this regard, PEX is now legal in all states for use; still, there’s a hidden “but” under this approval.
Although the states have confirmed that PEX goes with building codes, the use of polyethylene tubing is still against the local codes in some areas, which might make it impossible for someone from those certain areas to use PEX water pipes for water supply and heating.
Where Is Pex Banned In The USA?
With the question “Where and why is PEX banned?”, California’s name would come initially to mind. This state has been in discussion the most regarding the ban.
The Longest Ban
California is famous for making its own rules for its localities’ interests. Due to the location and high-profile emergency, drinking water has always been a big area of concern for the state. They have been testing the pipes constantly since their first arrival in the 80s.
The decision changed several times based on the outcome of the installation. Last time, California Plumbers Union came forward demanding a ban on the polyethylene tubing system, and the PEX had been banned in the state for the longest ever since.
Now, according to pex california 2021 ruling, the pipes aren’t banned in the state any longer.
All the other states started to warm up soon after the PEX pipes were introduced. Florida and New York took relatively more time to accept this plastic alternative.
Related Read: How to Repair Damaged Plastic Pipe Threads?
Why Is Pex Banned In Some States In the USA?
First of all, state law-wise, PEX is NOT banned in any of the states in the USA. It’s that some places in each state are yet to come to terms with switching to plastic pipes for supplying hot or cold water.
So why did it take it so long for some states to accept the PEX plumbing longer than the others?
New York States Labor Law prohibited the use of plastic pipes for decades. Although the main reasoning was never explicitly disclosed, two objections routinely came up in the discussions.
Rat problem and legionella.
Despite many couldn’t bring themselves to drink water supplied through plastic pipes in fear of chemical contamination, the concerns were a bit particular for NY residents.
It’s a known fact that the state has a rodent problem, and it was often speculated that mice or rats could chew through plastic lines.
And then there was this legionella outrage. Several studies showed over the years that plastic pipes caused more flu attacks than any other thermal sources. Complaints and results like this made the state disapprove of the use of plastic pipes like PEX for residential or corporate purposes.
However, PEX material was never the core issue for these problems to begin with; it was the error in the plumbing system.
Florida uplifted its ban on PEX just last year. The state has always been open about their main concern with these pipes: the chemical leaching.
Records from pex piping lawsuit show that the trouble occurred mostly with the older versions.
The zinc-coated fitting would come with losses with leaching chemicals affecting the coating. This would lead to leaks and contamination. The problem was so rampant that even insurance companies stepped down from ensuring older PEX models.
Chlorine found in the water was claimed to oxidize the surface and contaminate the water. There have also been many complaints about weird smells in the drinking water.
And the exposed pipes breaking out if not painted properly made it the least preferred for outdoor plumbing.
California is the most famous for banning PEX pipes for the longest. The ban has been imposed and uplifted constantly as new studies would show new results. However, the disapproval of using PEX had been strong, with a decade-long veto from California Plumbers Union.
Although the research showed otherwise most of the time, the union always had complaints regarding the safety issue with the pipes.
Cheaply built pipes had been reported to leach chemicals, and many were blamed for chlorine oxidation. To ensure safe drinking water supply, plastic pipes have not been a union favorite for a long time.
Besides, the structure, and the expensiveness of grade-C pipes made many questions the usefulness of polyethylene for regular plumbing. Crosslinking seemed difficult with newer, stiffer improvements to some of the pipes.
Despite these explanation, many locals do assume that the plumbing union has always been against the pipes for their own advantage. Installing PEX pipes is easier, cheaper, and often can be done without professional help, which many dubs as threatening for plumbing professionals.
When Should You Not Use Pex Pipe?
Yes, PEX is an incredible invention, and we’re grateful for the advantages it brings. And all the states wouldn’t agree on using these in the end if there wasn’t something exceptionally great about the pipes.
But is pex better than copper in every aspect? Is it the only good choice for plumbing at the moment?
No, there are some drawbacks that you should definitely be aware of while using PEX pipes.
Not For UV-Ray Exposure
In other words, you shouldn’t use PEX for outdoor plumbing. The pipes start breaking after a while under UV light exposure, something you can’t avoid under the sun.
Have to heavily paint and coat the installed PEX pipes to expand the outdoor lifespan; still, that isn’t enough.
Chemical Leaching Problem
The main reason why some states hesitated for so long was to uplift the ban. PEX-A and PEX-B pipes are known for chemical use and there are records of chemical leaching motivated by particular substances.
Although it’s not always the case. And you better not purchase pipes manufactured by shady companies to avoid this situation.
Can’t Be Melted
The PEX structure can’t be melted like average plastic, so it’s not recyclable. While these pipes work greatly for supplying water, you wouldn’t want to produce more thermoset material like this until it can be made to be recycled.
Not For Extreme Environments
If you live in a tropical environment where even winters feel a bit like summer, maybe PEX is not the right option for you. The polyethylene structure is prone to melting and extremely sensitive to high temperature.
And the same goes for excessively freezing days too. It can’t carry boiling hot water, and can’t stand freezing cold temperatures.
Speaking of thermal sensitivity, we do have to admit, despite being so good at doing its job, the plastic pipe falls short when it comes to durability. The surface material might easily detoritiate or oxidize in close contact with certain chemicals.
We’re already aware that PEX can be categorized into A, B, and C types depending on their structure. In many situations, these types can feel pretty discriminatory.
For instance, to avoid the chemical-leaching possibility, you might consider using type-C PEX. The expensiveness and stiffness of the type can lead to pex shortage and make cross-linking challenging.
At the end of the day, we are glad that the states finally found a common ground to accept the plastic wonder for what it is.
And yes, we’re welcoming this new era while accepting the flaws as well. This gives us chance to enjoy the benefits of PEX plumbing while attempting to improve the experience for the future.
Since the overall ban has just recently been lifted, and some places are still in doubt about its use, it’s understandable if the citizens have questions like, where and why is PEX banned?.
We believe some of you are more well-informed about the PEX situation in the USA now than you were five minutes ago.
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