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Old 03-03-2019, 02:57 PM   #1
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Does PEX really freeze and burst, or not?

My father in law was talking to my wife and said there's this new pipe called PEX and it won't burst if it freezes. I told my wife that's what we have in our coach.

I've read several articles on PEX piping and I'd like to know has anyone had PEX piping crack or burst after it freezes?

I get that it will expand and give somewhat since it's less rigid than PVC like my father in law had a 100 years ago in his trailer.

The manufacturers of PEX won't commit to stating it's frost proof, only that it's less likely than other types of piping to have issues.

What's the real world experience with PEX and freezing?
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:06 PM   #2
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pex itself is pretty stout..
what usually cracks are the fittings its attached to.


i have a water line that is pex freeze solid with no damage. but the plastic elbow it was crimped onto split wide open.
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:10 PM   #3
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I've had my plumbing freeze a couple times and have not had a leak develop.

While building a new house I ran a line from the outdoor faucet to the motorhome, ~75'. I happen to buy a roll of PEX on clearance at a plumbing supply store and since I was at the end of my required plumbing needs I used the roll to run the line to the motorhome. It froze a number of times last winter and never did leak.

The problem would probably be the pex fittings as they will not be as forgiving as the PEX piping.
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:13 PM   #4
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The PEX today is of a better grade than it was several years ago. powerboatr is right. The fittings can and will break. Some brands are better than others and easier to fit and not leak.
Many new homes built on slabs around this area have PEX. They put down regular PVC pipe as conduit, pour the slab then run the PEX like one would run wire. If there is a broken pipe for some reason, pull the PEX out and replace it rather than digging up the slab
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:17 PM   #5
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A couple of days ago, I saw the U-tube below. Looks like the pex pipe holds up well. I know I have some hard plastic fittings scattered thru the system and am sure that if water froze inside them, they would crack, as would any water left in any valves.


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Old 03-03-2019, 03:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerboatr View Post
pex itself is pretty stout..
what usually cracks are the fittings its attached to.


i have a water line that is pex freeze solid with no damage. but the plastic elbow it was crimped onto split wide open.
Makes sense, "only as strong as it's weakest link".
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Old 03-03-2019, 06:14 PM   #7
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As I have reactively and proactively replaced and updated the plumbing in our coach over time, I always replace the plastic fittings with brass.
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Old 03-03-2019, 06:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
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As I have reactively and proactively replaced and updated the plumbing in our coach over time, I always replace the plastic fittings with brass.
Brass is good
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Old 03-04-2019, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
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As I have reactively and proactively replaced and updated the plumbing in our coach over time, I always replace the plastic fittings with brass.
If you take your fittings an run a file on them you will find most are brass plated copper. With that being said, not all but a large percent are actually copper.
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Old 03-04-2019, 06:10 PM   #10
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If you take your fittings an run a file on them you will find most are brass plated copper. With that being said, not all but a large percent are actually copper.
Does that really make any difference at all? That is how they are labeled at Home Depot, but if it makes you feel better, then thanks for your contribution...
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:56 AM   #11
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PEX is more flexible than most tubing and thus can handle some expansion when water freezes inside. As others have said, that is often irrelevant since fittings break or get pushed apart anyway, and it's academic whether the water leaks out of the pex itself or some connection. The video above illustrates that.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:51 AM   #12
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Hey SailorSam...thanks for that video. Always kewl to learn new stuff.

And thanks to the OP for asking the question.
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Old 03-05-2019, 08:12 AM   #13
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No matter if pex will break or not...the real answer is the unit still has to be properly winterized because there are lots of other hardware that will freeze and will break.
So, yes, Pex is less likely to break than CPVC (especially old brittle CPVC), but other than that fact - still needs to be winterized.

If the question is should I proactively replace old CPVC with Pex? Ok, if you are already have the whole thing opened up for another reason and want a project.

If you have to fix an old line - sure use PEX. There are adapter parts to connect Pex to CPVC.

One trick I have used is to put a wire around both the old pipe to replace and the pex tube and use the old pipe to guide the new pex through the hard to access areas as I push the pex in. Typically the connection points are easier to access. Sometimes works depending on the situation. Pull the old pipe out once the pex is in place. Still not a fun job.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:56 PM   #14
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We froze our Winnebago ERA solid when the temps unexpectedly dropped to 10 for two days. (It was an adventure, especially walking to the showers!)

Once temps got above about 40, it all thawed and all was good again. No damage at all, which somewhat surprised me.

But as others say, the fittings made of metal are a weak point.
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