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I don't know much about Cali.....I have avoided the state like the plague even when I lived in Arizona, but I digress.
Here in Alaska Pex is used so extensively anymore it is actually getting hard to find any new construction that is'nt using it over copper. And yes, many many residential and commercial re-pipes are simply abandoning the old copper lines and re-piping all with Pex. Including He-Pex (in-floor radiant heat) and even the supplies for fin-tube baseboard heat. It is quickly making copper obsolete, though personally speaking, I view it still as a rather under-tested material especially in regards to this country and hard water environments, and it's actual longevity to me is in question though it has been tested and under use in Europe supposedly for 30 years....I would still prefer to plumb my OWN house with copper. But I am not in any way condemning Pex, so far I have not had problems with leaks or call-backs using it and it is a dream come true when compared to copper and iron to install and hang.
The thing I can't stand about the industry is that there simply are just too many different types out there still and there seems to be no standardization as to the various fittings and methods of joining among differing brands (there is Rehau, Wirsbo, Vanguard, etc, etc) and they ALL use differing methods, Wirsbo for example uses an expanding tool to expand the tube so it cinches up around the fitting, Vanguard uses crimp rings and crimper, and even the ones who use crimp method only like Vanguard differ in the method of crimping, fittings and crimp tool, so it almost makes it impossible for a smaller plumb outfit to be prepared for a job when you have a customer call in and tell you they have a problem and the only thing they ever say is it's "plastic pipe" and you have no idea what the hell it is, could even be Quest for all you know before you see the job, and this fact is the single most aggravating thing about the industry.
OK, getting off my soap box now, I believe Pex is legal for just about any installation in the United States anymore as long as the proper type is used (as in He-Pex for in floor heat, Aqua-Pex for potable) and the installer (or at least someone in the company) should be certified by whichever brand they are using for proper installation technique and the assurance of the brand warranty.
I agree with most of your post, except the statement that PEX is approved in every state. I think we need more info on that. It is my understading that PEX is under limited approval for residential use in California. I can't comment on the rest of the states.
The California PEX issues is real confusing. PEX is legal in the UPC and IPC. PEX was legal in all 50 States then California made an admendment to allow local jurisdictions to approve it on a City by City basis but not State wide.
The PEX industry sued California and California was forced to add (never happened) PEX into the CPC (California Plumbing Code). Then at the end of last year the appeals court reversed the opinion and said an enviromental study regarding PEX had to be done prior to it being added to the CPC.
Bottom line, PEX is not currently approved in the CPC but a little over 180 Cities have approved it and allowed it's use for residential construction and repair.
I warned you it was confusing.
"Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony
Just a heads up on what to do for those that run into a certain type of pex. We all no it is imposible for us to cary every little fitting. I carry both wirsbo, and quest pex. But i also cary this part called a shark bite. Its a transition union that will work on all of the different stuff, as well as polybutelyne that crapy grey stuff in mobile homes. You guys no the stuff. But the shark bite works great and you can get it from wolverine brass. Check it out. than just install your stock material from there.
Pex is legal in Canada but only in wood frame houses/condo's. Everything else pretty much require's Type "L" Copper due to fire rating issues.
Pex is certainly nice because it's cheap & easy to work with. But pex fittings in general (whether it be wirsbo or crimp rings) don't have the flow capacity that copper has. I think wirsbo only flows 68% as well as Copper, Pex with crimp rings only 64% or something like that (or maybe vice versa, but something along those lines).
I too would plumb my house in Copper. Type "K" Copper.