Design Guide on PEX Water Supply Systems Released
The NAHB Research Center has recently released the “PEX Design Guide,” a new resource to increase the acceptance and proper use of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) water supply plumbing systems.
The guide provides the comprehensive design concepts and installation guidelines that builders, designers and trade contractors need to design and install PEX water supply systems in residential buildings. Created in partnership with the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), the guide can now be downloaded for free from ToolBase.org, the Research Center’s online resource for practical and technical information on innovative construction products and practices that can improve housing performance. It will be released in hard copy at the 2007 International Builders’ Show in Orlando.
PEX is a high-temperature, flexible, polymer pipe that has gained popularity among some home builders and remodelers as a cost-competitive alternative to traditional materials such as rigid piping. While PEX water supply systems can save on labor and materials, building professionals have reported some challenges in adopting the piping without a comprehensive resource to help them consistently and properly design and install PEX systems.
The new design guide was created to introduce potential users to the technology and enable current users to optimize their designs while minimizing costs. The guide includes step-by-step instructions on proper applications and information on the advantages of PEX, joining methods, code acceptance, design and installation. In addition, the guide provides a reliable reference and resource enabling code inspectors and home owners to become familiar with the applications, performance characteristics and benefits of PEX water supply systems.
PEX has been used successfully in Europe for 30 years, with extensive testing for durability and material performance. It was first introduced in North America in 1984, where it has been primarily used for radiant floor heating, and more recently, for domestic water distribution systems. It is approved for potable hot and cold water supply systems as well as hydronic heating systems in all model plumbing and mechanical codes across the United States and Canada.
Although hurdles to widespread use of PEX still exist, there are many benefits, such as ease of installation; mechanical connections that eliminate soldering; resistance to scaling, corrosion and freeze damage; and the opportunity for design options for water conservation and system performance. All are outlined in the design guide.
For more information about PEX water supply systems, and to download a free copy of the “PEX Design Guide,” visit the NAHB Research Center’s ToolBase Services Web site at www.ToolBase.org.