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PATH Case Study

PEX Piping:

Speeding Installation

Printable Version [.pdf, 715 KB]

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Keith Peterson

West Pasco, Washington

The Technology:

PEX Water Supply Piping

The Project:

Peterson's 2,480 square-foot home built with insulating concrete forms features PEX piping and radiant floor heating.

Keith Peterson didn't want to use copper for his plumbing because of the taste it can leave in the water. He selected cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) piping for its ease of installation and cost savings, and even tied a REHAU fire suppression system into his cold water pipes.

"PEX is quiet, it doesn't scale, and you don't get that copper taste."

-- Keith Peterson



Peterson can conveniently turn off the water to any individual fixture at the plumbing manifold."Traditional copper piping is a good product, but it's not inert," says Keith Peterson. "When water sits in it for a while, you get sediment build-up and that copper taste. You avoid all that with PEX. There's also a smaller pressure drop than for copper piping, so the water pressure at different fixtures doesn't fluctuate so much."

"Some earlier plastic piping products made from butyl gave plastic piping a bad rap. But PEX doesn't have the problems that butyl did. Neither does CPVC, but I had already chosen to use PEX for my radiant floor heating, and so saw its advantages --rapid and flexible installation and a more fail-safe, quality product -- for supplying drinking water as well."

"When I was installing PEX on my radiant heat system, I had to repair some kinks, which was really easy. You just use a heat gun to heat up the PEX until it turns clear, and then you let it cool and it's back to normal. You can't do that with any other piping."

"The real challenge with PEX was getting objective information about the product locally. In the building industry, most people are into 'tried and true' technologies, so many plumbers use copper and nothing else. Fortunately, the plumber that I selected to do the waste and vent work was also familiar with PEX. He uses plastic piping almost exclusively because he likes how fast it is to install and he thinks it's a quality product."


"Installing PEX is like stringing electrical wire," Peterson says. "It's that fast. You just pull the PEX through the house, and you have hardly any fittings or splicing to do--way fewer than with copper. From your supply, you often don't need any fittings until you get to a fixture or to your drop."

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Keith Peterson

Keith Peterson is a certified sustainable building advisor and a senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He has more than 11 years experience in deploying green building technologies. He acted as the general contractor for the construction of his own home through the help of UBuildIt, an owner-builder consultant group.

Peterson, on why he used PEX:

"Installing PEX is like stringing electrical wire. It's that fast. I minimized installation time and got a superior product at the same time."

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Content updated on 9/1/2006

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