PEX Irrigation System: Can You Bury PEX For Lawn Sprinklers?


The main goal for any lawn irrigation system is to ensure that plants get sufficient water, which enables them to grow and germinate. There are different types of irrigation. Some of the popularly known ones are surface irrigation, Drip irrigation, localized irrigation, and sprinkler irrigation, to name a few.

PEX piping for irrigation systems is a good option due to cost, reliability, ease of installation, and flexibility. The benefits of PEX over other rigid pipes outweigh the negatives. Whether you plan to use it above or below grade, PEX for irrigation systems is a good idea.

In this article, I’d like to discuss whether a PEX irrigation system is a good idea and ascertain if it is appropriate to use PEX in an underground sprinkler system. Keep reading to find out more information you won’t want to miss out on.

What Is PEX Piping?

PEX piping systems are newly devised means for water pipes most especially in new houses. It is a cross-linked polyethylene formed into a bendable (flexible) pipe that has in recent years been replacing some applications of copper piping.

One of the reasons why it is getting popular is that it is less expensive. With the steady rise of prices of copper pipes, people have been keen on getting a cheaper and effective alternative, which is what PEX piping offers.

Copper piping is more ridged and requires more tools and equipment than PEX piping.

Another reason or benefit associated with its use is that it is very much easy to install. The more rigid copper alternative take much more effort, tools, and skill to install. Even with these copper piping is a challenge to place in many situations.

Another plus for PEX piping is that it can resist corrosion and mineral builds up. This makes it a unique kind of pipe. 

A PEX irrigation system happens to be a good idea not simply because it is affordable or there is relatively less stress when installing, but also for its durability and efficiency.

This PEX tubbing kit found at Amazon can help you with your irrigation system at a great price.

Can You Use PEX For An Underground Sprinkler System?

With some of the controversy surrounding PEX piping, it is understandable that some may still have reservations using it. These controversies have been settled and PEX is considered not only safe for systems like outdoor irrigation, but also for interior systems hooked to drinking water.

In a study done by researchers at Perdu University and Virginia Tech University, the problems associated with PEX tubbing have a lot to do with the metal fittings and copper piping upstream from its use. Though some chemical leaching can at times be detected from PEX, it is considered minor at best.

Previously the state of California had a ban on its use. There were concerns of chemicals leaching from the PEX piping material into drinking water. After extensive testing, it was proven that PEX piping is completely safe for all interior uses.

The ban was lifted in California and reinstated several times. Due to California’s strict environmental codes and what amounts to an overly politicized environment surrounding such issues, California took some time in approving the use of PEX and including it in building codes.

The good thing about PEX is that it can be used in any environment. Contractors are not barred from using PEX in an underground sprinkler system in any location and many times they end up using it for its versatility and cost effectiveness.

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Benefits Of PEX Irrigation System For Your Lawn

Let’s look at some of the reasons PEX will be installed in underground irrigation systems:

1. Leak Points Are Reduced

One advantage of using PEX for an underground sprinkler system is that the potential for leak points is greatly minimized. Due to the flexibility of the product, many of the connections and fittings are unecessary. These connections are a main source of leaking problems.

For ridged types of piping, elbow and extension joints are needed. With PEX piping, entire runs including bends and corners can be accomplished with one continuous piece of piping.

2. Saves Time

The reason why contractors use PEX for an underground sprinkler system is that it saves time. The job is quickly carried out and with greater efficiency the installation process is swift.

Not having to use torches, glue, couplings, and fittings for most of a pipe’s run can literally cut the time of installation in half. When time is money, like in the plumbing business, faster installation increases the bottom line.

3. Shape Is Maintained

PEX pipes can be repaired simply and easily with a heat source in the case of a kink or crease. A good example of a heat source is a heat gun. So, if there are accidental kinks along the way, then you can rest assured that the problem is not one that requires replacement. 

The original shape of PEX tubing can be restored and the qualities would be maintained. This cannot be said of other solutions. Ridged installations can required costly and time consuming replacement efforts.

4. Utmost Flexibility

One key benefit of the PEX irrigation system is the fact that it allows you to give your plants access to enough water needed to grow no matter their location or the terrain. This includes plants that are in tight corners of your yard or garden. 

For this to be as effective as it can be, it is advisable to invite a professional to examine your lawn, and determine where the best position of the PEX pipe should be. If you are certain of the location for your PEX piping, it can be a successful DIY installation. PEX tubing’s flexibility is forgiving and easy to work with.

It is a difficult task to manually water your lawn, especially if you have a lawn that’s larger than a 1000 square feet. Some days, some plants might receive enough water, other days, they might not because of your inability to evenly distribute water to them. 

But with a PEX pipe, you can provide your plants with enough water, regardless of their position on your lawn due to its flexibility and easy of installation in most locations.

5. PEX Can Serve As A Very Reliable Sprinkler System 

A good sprinkler system provides water supply at specific intervals in a way that would be hard or impossible for us to do ourselves consistently.

Imagine a situation where you go on holiday for 4-5 months or you get busy for a week your plants need their regular dose of water. There is also the fact that if we water our lawns and gardens ourselves, inconsistency plagues nearly all of our attempts.

This is where a PEX pipe can fill the void. It is produced with the best materials and can survive even the harshest weather conditions. It can be reformed using only a simple heat source and reach areas that would be difficult to impossible for ridged piping. It is also more beginner and DIY friendly.

With this solution, you can stay as long as you want on your vacation without worrying about your plants and ensure an adequate coverage for your lawn no matter where you are.

6. A Reliable Substitute For Copper And PVC Pipes

PEX pipes have been making the rounds as a better solution to PVC or copper pipes. To clear up the rumors, PEX pipes are actually as good as advertised. Copper and PVC pipes have a reputation for freezing easily when the weather gets too cold. 

This means, during winter, you would not be able to utilize your sprinkler systems for your lawn. With PEX, the situation is totally different. The PEX pipes are made from a flexible material that are sort of identical to the makeup and structure of water hoses. But not as delicate. 

PEX pipes are also susceptible to damage under extreme conditions but they can hold their ground longer than other regular pipes. Simply put, they can bend before they break.

I have had to deal with frozen and busted copper pipes on several occasions. This can be quite the headache to remedy. PEX piping resists cracking and bursting better than ridged piping.

7. Ease Of Installation And Usage

The key benefit of a PEX pipe is the fact that it gives and bends for easy installation. Unlike other types of pipes, PEX does not need to be constructed, glued, or soldered. It can fit in tight corners just as easily with much fewer joints. Though at times there will be connections needed, these instances are much rarer than with copper or PVC pipes. 

Now that we’ve highlighted the benefits of the PEX pipes, let’s establish some downsides. 

Downsides Of PEX Irrigation System For Your Lawn

Even with the long list of plusses, every material or solution has its downside. Let’s look at a couple associated with using PEX in an irrigation system.

Breaks Easily Under Extreme Heat

Before using a PEX pipe for your lawn, consider the fact that this pipe can fail when placed in very hot conditions. It’s flexible nature makes it easier for it to melt than copper piping. This is why you have to ensure that your PEX pipe must be placed in heat-free locations. 

Can Be Chewed On

If you have dogs that constantly play in your yard, keep in mind that they might attempt to use the PEX pipe as a chew toy. So, you might want to ensure that PEX pipes are installed strategically away from where the dogs can have access to it.

Though these will most likely be installed in underground situations, as we know our four legged pets love to dig. If the pipes are made of copper or even PVC they are not as enticing to dogs. The softer nature of PEX can be enticing to some.

The Final Touches On PEX Irrigation Systems…

If you are considering PEX for your outdoor irrigation systems, you may come across those that have had bad experiences or those that adhere to myths about the product. PEX is used in a wide variety of situations and irrigation systems are perfect applications.

No material is perfect, but PEX would make a great material for your irrigations systems application.

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Sources 

https://dengarden.com/landscaping/DIY-PEX-Pop-Up-Lawn-and-Garden-Sprinkler-System

https://www.pmmag.com/articles/101346-using-pex-in-residential-fire-sprinkler-systems

https://www.blazemaster.com/blog/home-builders-should-know-five-reasons-cpvc-beats-pex-for-fire-protection-system-piping

http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/PEX_tubing_drip_irrigation_system/

https://www.qrfs.com/blog/109-cpvc-vs-pex-whats-the-best-choice-for-home-fire-sprinkler-systems/

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/pex-plumbing-pipe-844850

Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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