Airstream Forums

Airstream Forums (
-   Fresh Water Systems (
-   -   Copper vs. PEX (

ckeysor 04-13-2002 08:27 PM

Copper vs. PEX
I am purchasing a 1979 International that had a copper pipe rupture due to inadequate winterizing. Who would have known you had to winterize in Atlanta.

I am wondering if it would be better to replace the broken pipe with copper or the PEX piping? Which would be more durable? which is better from a restoration standpoint?

I appreciate the help.

thenewkid64 04-13-2002 09:02 PM

My understanding is that Pex can be problematic. My reccomendation is use copper and either seat it in or use brass compression fittings.

If you are trying to keep it original I would stay with the copper.

Just my 2 cents worth

I am sure that other forum members would be happy to share their experiences with you regarding this.

ckeysor 04-14-2002 10:14 AM

thanks, glad to know it before I get started. The plumbing that needs to be fixed is in a very akward place. It will be a fun repair.


thenewkid64 04-14-2002 10:49 AM

Is the repair under the floor?

What Floorplan/layout do you have?

Do you have the service manual for your model/year?

I ask these questions so you can tap into the vast knowelge of our other forum members that may have had simalr problems.

83Excella 04-14-2002 06:18 PM

Read the 'Plastic Plumbing' thread in this forum for more info on plastic.


ckeysor 04-14-2002 06:35 PM


The leak that I know of (it is such a big leak that the water is pouring out and not going anywhere else) is in the boot or trunk compartment. The pipe is on a cold water pipe leading to the shower. The leak is about 6-8 inches up past the boot door and is hard to reach.

The floor plan is the rear bathroom, full-size bed in the rear. I do have the owners manual.

Although the leak is in a tough place it is not impossible and at least I do not need to tear anything out.

Andy R 05-19-2002 11:18 PM

So is PEX better than the plumbing materials available at Home Depot?
I am about to re-plumb my entire trailer. What is the best type of plumbing to use? If possible I would like to use "standard" plumbing products available at Home Depot.

Is PEX really that good?

83Excella 05-20-2002 10:14 AM

Did you read the article I posted about plastic plumbing? Based on that article PEX has a limited lifespan, about 10-15 years before it starts breaking down and leaking. If it were me I would use the newer stuff and avoid the re-plumbing in 10 years.


BobbyW 05-20-2002 11:26 AM

The materials and fittings at The Home Depot's in Houston are the Quest - PEX fittings that I have also found at Plumbing Supply Houses here.

To see every PEX fittings you would ever need, go to :

I especially like the color coded Red(hot) Blue(cold) tubing.

The materials are not that much in cost. It is the crimper that is expensive. I have used the 2 wrench block crimper to make good connections. It is just slow.

I spent a couple of hours looking through a number of Travel Trailers at a lot here in Houston looking under the sinks and behind the water heaters to see what was currentlly being used in new construction. Most had PEX with plastic fittings. All of the Airstreams I looked at (about 10 MH's) had copper fittings using a gray braid-reinforced tubing.


Andy R 05-21-2002 05:24 PM

What new stuff John (83Excella)?
Are you talking about the new PEX "BESTPEX" colored tubing?
If not, what tubing are you talking about?



hex 01-17-2003 06:23 PM

Another hangin thread
I think this thread needs some further discussion.
So is Pex the answer or not?
What happens to it after the 10-15 years mentioned above?
I read somewhere on the forum here that copper was most prone to freeze bursting...Why? It seems that it would be the strongest and least prone:confused: :confused:

flyfshr 01-17-2003 07:40 PM

Copper is more prone to freezing problems because it is so rigid. It does not flex like the PEX does because it is copper. I replumbed my entire trailer with PEX. We'll find out soon enough if it is subject to drying out as other plastic and rubber products do here in the desert. Maybe I'll be replacing it in the next few years. Gawd, I hope not


Chas 01-18-2003 08:22 AM

I would rather have the copper. Yes, it will freeze swell and burst but it is much easier to work on. The pipe and fittings are easily available, you don't have to worry about it mysteriously popping apart and it withstands the heat much better. The only thing is I am pretty good at sweating copper since I have been doing hvac & plumbing work for quite a while so I guess I have a little more practice at it?


j54mark 01-18-2003 09:18 AM

There appears to be no correct answer to the question, "which is better". There is a lot to be said for going with what you are comfortable with.

Pex has an unknown lifespan at this point. Copper is usually considered more or less permanent, but that does not necessarily mean in a trailer where there is movement and flexing going on. Pex has some incredibly high coefficient of expansion, which is great if water freezes and pointless if it does not.

I would be interested to hear from some expert on sweated copper fittings vs. soft copper tubing and compression fittings. It seems to me that sweated fittings would not be desirable in an envirionment subject to the stresses and strains of taking a trailer over the roads and highways.

Just wondering...


Pick 01-18-2003 10:56 AM

Plumbing in new AS
1 Attachment(s)
Here's a picture I snapped at the AS factory of what the plumbing looks like around the Cold Water Heater. Looks like it's the bypass valve. Note different colors for hot and cold water.

Pahaska 01-18-2003 12:23 PM

Lokks just like my plumbing
I like the idea of using color-coded PEX for hot and cold.

One of my previous SOB trailers used the old gray stuff for all of the piping and it was delivered with the city water inlet tapped into the hot water piping by mistake. It wasn't hard to fix, but it was hard to figure out with all pipes looking the same and mostly hidden under the cabinets.

Some times it''s a cold water heater, sometimes a tepid water heater and sometimes a hot water hotter heater. I just settle for the term water heater.

Dwight 01-18-2003 01:48 PM

Go to <> and look at the pipe and fittings. I have been able to find these items are most RV shops and even Lowe's and Home Depot.

tod47d 01-18-2003 08:33 PM

copper vs. pex
I went with copper , be sure to use the thicker grade of pipe available at big box stores.
I used braided stainless sections above the rear bumper to connect four quadrants of pre fabricated pipe--- I then fitted with solder sweats , if I felt comfortable with applying heat in the confined space-,- compression fittings if not. I also ran braided stainless to the water heater and sinks to avoid sweating solder in confined, fire prone areas.
This makes isolation of four zones easy to test and replace if necessary,
1 porstide Hot
2 portside Cold
3 starboard Hot
4 starboard Cold
Be sure the heater is properly ducted for cold weather survival.
I could just about pre fabricate and mail these out. I had fun making them and almost made spares!
:o Todd McDonald
22' Safari

Sundance 07-11-2007 12:12 PM

Just to clear up the PEX lifespan issue. Cross linked PEX has a lifespan of over 200 years not 10 to 15 years as often cited.

Northwest Mechanical, Inc. - Heating FAQ

eubank 07-11-2007 01:03 PM

I've used whatever is easiest to use for the particular application. To replace a section that is long and easy to reach, copper is the choice. However, the copper pipe spaghetti that used to make up the mess near the water tank (piping to pump, drain valve, and bypass to fill the tank with city water), I redid with Pex.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:30 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.