Real Estate

Pipe insulation for copper pipes and PEX pipes

Pipe insulation is a great option for plumbing and heating projects, whether you use copper or PEX pipes. To choose which type of pipe you want to use, you must first know the materials that the two pipes are made of.

Copper, an element found in nature, is reddish in color and metallic. It is a fairly soft and malleable metal. You may hear about the high thermal or electrical conductivity of copper. That is another way of saying that it is a very good conductor of heat and electricity. Silver is the most electrically conductive metal, but copper is a close second. A wide range of copper tubing types are available: Type L copper tubing, Type K copper tubing, and soft copper tubing for refrigeration. These copper tubes are sold in coils of copper tubes.

PEX tubing is more durable, less expensive, and easier to install than copper tubing. It also has a much lower expansion rate, which reduces noise as your system warms up and makes it less likely to burst if the pipes freeze. When planning a project for a plumbing or heating application, you can choose between PEX and copper; if you choose PEX, you’ll have even more options to choose from, including a connection system. There are now over 20 different brands of PEX tubing for plumbing systems on the market. Some example brands are Rifeng, AquaPEX, HydroPEX, Viega, Watts, Zurn, etc. Usually, the red PEX pipe is used for hot water, while the blue PEX pipe is used for cold water. Examples of PEX pipes for heating are ThermaPEX, Rifeng and Uponor hePEX.

After choosing between copper tubing and PEX tubing, you should consider installing pipe insulation. This is a great option for any guy. A good rule of thumb is to treat your PEX pipe installation the same way you would copper pipe.

Both PEX and copper tubing lose a significant amount of heat to the air. As the hot water passes through, the conductivity of the material draws heat from the water, and then the air draws that heat from the pipe. Energy is also wasted when frost forms on cold water pipes, cold water, and air conditioning lines. Whether your project involves your heating system, hot water plumbing, or cold water plumbing, pipe insulation is a great and affordable way to use wasted heat and lower your energy bills. Pipe insulation not only helps lower your energy bills, it also costs just a few dollars for a 6′ length, depending on the diameter needed.

There are two popular types of insulation, Therma-cel and Insul-lock, designed to limit heat loss, condensation, and frost formation. Therma-cel is a flexible polyolefin thermal insulator. Therma-cel pipe insulation also reduces heat loss in hot water pipes. This insulation can be used with copper or PEX tubing. Insul-lock is another type of insulation that works the same way but is pre-cut and self-adhesive, making it extremely easy to install. It is non-porous and non-fibrous to resist mold growth and ensures a strong, long-lasting seal without the risk of adhesive mess.

Good luck with your piping project. We hope you have learned more about the differences between copper pipes and PEX pipes and the benefits of installing pipe insulation.

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