PEX is a relatively uncommon material for in-home gas lines, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used. It is more commonly used for external underground gas lines that deliver large amounts of gas to serve a whole neighborhood. If you’re asking whether you can install an outdoor, underground PEX gas line yourself, the answer is that this is better left to the gas company. And plumbing professionals can install a PEX gas line in your home to supply gas to whatever you need. However, PEX might not be the right choice for your needs and may not be allowed by your building codes. Here’s what you should know.
PEX versus PE Line
PEX piping is a different kind of PE piping, and the two are often confused. PE stands for polyethylene, a flexible plastic material that makes for great piping for wells and other cold-water supply lines.
PEX is cross-linked polyethylene. It is made of polyethylene that has a stronger bond between the different polymer chains that make up the material. As a result of this improvement, PEX is suitable for hot and cold-water applications. It can also be used in some gas applications, where building code allows it.
PEX and PE are flexible and rated for much higher pressure than most gas lines, so they meet those basic requirements. However, they are made of a soft material that nails, rodents, and other things could potentially damage. This is why either may not be approved for residential gas line usage in your area. Sometimes even when the utility company can install it, plumbers and homeowners can’t.
What Type of Pipe Should I Use for Natural Gas?
Both PEX and PE piping are sometimes confused with other options for gas line piping and other kinds of pipe that aren’t suitable at all. The most common confusion is what some people call “black polyethylene” or HDPE.
HDPE stands for high-density polyethylene. This pipe has a greater density than a typical PE pipe, and it is more rigid as a result. HDPE is very commonly used as a commercial and industrial gas supply line and it may be a bit of overkill for your residential use–but it can be used. If you’ve ever heard of “plastic” natural gas lines, this is most likely what you’re looking for.
Corrugated yellow stainless-steel piping is most commonly used for gas lines inside of homes. This material, also called CSST, is more resistant to impacts that could create holes and leaks in other materials. However, it is still flexible enough to be easily installed in homes, where it may have to thread around obstacles.
Black iron pipe is an older and more traditional material for internal residential gas lines. This pipe isn’t actually iron. Instead, it is steel coated with a black finish, making it look iron. They can handle the low pressure of natural gas and are sturdy enough to resist impacts without creating leaks.
Other suitable materials for gas lines include steel and copper, but only in certain areas. Significant levels of hydrogen sulfide in natural gas can react negatively with these materials, but almost all natural gas for residential use already goes through a sulfur recovery unit to avoid those issues. The issue is that not all areas have updated their laws to reflect it, meaning that black iron and CSST are usually going to be your only options.
Which Material is Right for Me?
Your plumber in Concord can help you decide if PEX is the right choice for your gas line. Even if it is allowed by your building codes it may not the best material for your purposes.