Can You Use PEX For Baseboard Heat? (Explained)

If you own a baseboard heater, you understand the challenges of operating them. There are scenarios where you may consider using PEX on your baseboard heaters.

But as a cautious homeowner, you have to confirm if it’s okay to do so. If this question has been lingering in your mind for a while, you should know that it’s okay to use PEX for baseboard heating.

For years, PEX has been a popular choice compared to copper piping. It’s easy to install, durable, flexible, and designed for closed-loop heating applications.

The latter is what makes it an ideal option for baseboards. Besides baseboards, PEX can also be used in ice melting and radiant floor heating. This innovative pipe boasts a wide range of features and uses.

PEX pipes attached to the basement ceiling of a home, angled view.

Factors to Consider When Using PEX for Baseboard Heating

Similar to other types of pipes, there are certain factors that you have to familiarize yourself with when using PEX for baseboard heat.

These factors will ensure PEX does a more efficient job and doesn’t interfere with the performance of your baseboard heaters.

1. PEX has a low expansion capacity when exposed to low temperatures despite its robust capabilities.

When using it for your baseboard heater, you should avoid placing it in colder areas. This is one of the downsides of using PEX for baseboard heat.

2. The factor that you have to consider is ensuring the boiler creates adequate heat, preferably 180 degrees.

As the heat travels through the pipe, this will ensure that it retains an average temperature of 160 degrees.

3. A pro tip that can benefit you significantly is maintaining one loop throughout your home or building.

With a PEX pipe, it can be tempting to do the opposite. But it’s better to stick to one loop as it ensures even heat distribution.

Why Should I Use PEX for Baseboard Heat?

You will have many choices regarding the types of pipes that you can use on baseboard heat. However, certain benefits make PEX stand out from the competition. These benefits include;

• PEX is resistant to corrosion and mold development.

Even though this is a feature that copper also possesses, it can come in handy in keeping your home safe and prolonging the life of the pipe.

• Another critical feature of PEX that makes it ideal for baseboard heaters is its flexibility.

During installation, there are some areas that some hard to access. That doesn’t have to be a cause for concern if you have PEX.

• It costs ways less than copper.

Any home improvement project will cost money. At the end of the day, your goal should be to cut costs. PEX pipes can help you with that because of their low price tag.

• Using PEX is generally easier.

Homeowners are not plumbers, and neither are they, qualified technicians. When you work with PEX, it’s effortless to install. That should significantly cut down your time installing PEX on the baseboard heater.

It’s also important to know that PEX doesn’t need to be soldered to fit. That’s a reduced expense on your end.

Drawbacks of Using PEX Pipe for Baseboard Heat

Similar to other types of pipes, PEX isn’t flawless. There are two main drawbacks to using this pipe. First, it is quite vulnerable to UV damage.

When installing PEX to a baseboard heater, ensure that the pipe is placed away from the sun. Exposure to UV will shorten its lifespan. The other problem with using PEX is that it lacks adequate tensile strength.

If it is bent by accident, it will stay in that position. You have to be careful when working with PEX.

Are There Issues That Can Arise from Using PEX for Baseboard Heating?

Connecting PEX with a baseboard heater isn’t a procedure we can term effortlessly. Even though the installation will be straightforward, PEX is known to be sneaky and can lead to a wide range of issues.

Familiarizing yourself with these problems is crucial as it ensures you get the job done to perfection.

One of the common issues with using PEX for baseboards is that it tends to want to come out when the temperatures get hot.

To counter this problem, make sure that you first confirm the temperature rating of the PEX is in line with that of the baseboard heater.

It’s also crucial to use zip ties where necessary to ensure the PEX stays firmly fitted on the baseboard.

Earlier, we mentioned that PEX has a low expansion capacity. Therefore it shouldn’t be placed in cold areas. What if you have no option but to use the PEX in cold areas? Would that mean you have run out of options?

There is another alternative known as PAP (PEX-AL-PEX). It’s a five-layer pipe made using aluminum, adhesive, and plastic.

PAP has all the benefits of PEX, but its expansion coefficient is relatively lower, making it suitable for installation in colder areas.

You should also know that PAP works well on projects that require the tube not to be buried in cement.

Where Can I Get PEX for Baseboard Heaters?

Getting your hands on some PEX is fairly easy. The product is sold online by various retailers such as Amazon.

All you have to do is place your order and wait for it to be delivered. You can also get PEX in stores near you. That will, however, depend on your area of residence.

What Type of PEX Should One Use for Baseboard Heat?

That will depend on what you intend to achieve. As you may already know, there are different PEX colors. The most commonly used color for baseboards is red because it transports hot water.

It would be best if you also familiarize yourself with the other colors. We have blue which ferries cold water. There is a white PEX that can carry both hot and cold water. The same also applies to gray PEX.

Therefore, when ordering PEX, ensure that you get the red one for baseboards. In the description, if you are buying online, you should find more information about what that type is best for.

On Amazon, the red PEX indicates that it can be used for baseboard heaters. When buying PEX for baseboard use, you should know that there are three primary grades from PEX A to PEX C.

Does Size Matter When Using PEX for Baseboard Heaters?

Size plays a critical role alongside other factors. The first thing you would want to do is use a PEX with an oxygen barrier to prevent rust development along the system.

From there, you should carefully choose the size of the pipe and the length needed for the pipe to run. A 5/8″ PEX should easily feed a 3/4″ copper when it comes to size. Fitting is a critical factor, and it’s something that you should get right.

Baseboard heating

What is a Baseboard Heater?

Now that you have learned that it’s okay to use PEX for baseboard heat, we need to look deeper into the latter. Most people who have baseboard heaters don’t know how they work.

Familiarizing yourself with more information about baseboard heaters plays a critical role in ensuring that you get them to serve you to the best of their abilities.

A baseboard heater is a device that enables you to regulate temperatures in every room. Unlike complete HVAC units that run through various parts of the home, you will find baseboard heaters working independently.

These zone heaters don’t require a furnace or heating ducts. From what the name suggests, a baseboard heater is located at the bottom of a wall. This makes them unsightly, and they can make it hard for you to decorate your home.

When it comes to baseboard heaters, there are different types. There is the gas and hydronic option. The hydronic also goes by hot baseboard heat. This is the one that channels hot water to various parts of a home.

A baseboard heater comes with many perks also. For instance, it’s quiet and provides zone heating. This allows you to customize the indoor temperatures to suit your preferences.

You should also know that installing such a system is fairly easy. Plus, it’s also cheaper. If you hate spending a lot of money and time installing an HVAC system, you can benefit from switching to baseboard heat.

Why Should You Consider PEX Over Other Pipes for Baseboard Heaters?

To understand the importance of using PEX over other pipes, allow us to take you back in time. Before PEX, builders used copper.

This material took longer to install since it had to be torched at every connection. Failure to torch all connections, the pressure readings would be off the chart.

From copper, there came PVC, which also had its drawbacks. It wore out faster, and the connections had to be glued for them to stick.

However, when PEX became popularized, builders saw it as a much better option. It reduced the installation duration to almost half the time people would take with copper and PVC.

Besides that, it’s quite flexible and is easy to get inside hard-to-reach areas. Plus, it’s much cheaper and more durable. Ever since PEX was invented, builders have never looked back.

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