PEX pipe freezing is a question frequently asked. In the case of PEX, the start of the conversation is much like other materials: while PEX is freeze resistant, yes, PEX can freeze. There are ways to defend against this though, including strategic building design, placement of tubing and the type of insulation.
When a frozen pipe bursts, it can lead to more than $5,000 in water damage, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety. So are you wondering what actually happens when PEX freezes?
Frozen PEX Pipes Have a Unique Reaction
Due to its flexibility, PEX can expand under the damaging pressure caused by ice formation. If the weather gets cold enough, PEX pipes can and will freeze like any plumbing. However, PEX may be less likely to rupture as a result of freezing. When PEX tubing undergoes temperature changes — whether hot or cold — its first response is to expand. In some cases, this can be up to three times the tubing’s diameter.
By nature, the movement of pipes can create cause for concern. The main question: Is the material overstressed? This can be hard to know and depends on many factors. However, the flexible nature of PEX is what makes it more freeze resistant when compared to copper because of this ability to swell and not burst. The capacity to flex allows PEX to better accommodate the pressure that builds up in a pipe when water freezes.
Should you encounter a situation where you have a frozen PEX pipe, here are some ways to expedite the thawing process:
- Hot water
- Wet, hot towels
- Hand-held fan
- Low-wattage electrical heating tape
- Commercial system that pumps heated water through a tube to the frozen section and returns the cooled water for reheating
The Importance of Secure Connections
Even though PEX is resistant to frozen pipe bursts, it’s not immune to them. Every effort should be taken to avoid circumstances and design that might cause your piping system to experience freezing. Similarly, you can avoid reliability issues by choosing a high-quality system with superior connection technology. If pipe connections aren’t secure, the entire piping system becomes more vulnerable to potential leak points.
At Viega, we aim to provide confidence in every PEX press connection. That’s why our polymer fittings are equipped with factory-assembled sleeves that reduce installation errors on site, and system-matched tools that provide consistent connections in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.
Ready to see how Viega press technology provides peace of mind in PEX projects? Check out this example from our portfolio.