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I couldn't find exactly a direct answer; what should be used for an outside, buried water line? I've seen mention of using PEX, but had the black polyethylene pipe recommended.

I'm curious because I need to put in two 60 ft runs of pipe. I'll have to either buy two 100 ft rolls of PE or a 300 ft roll of PEX for roughly the same price and then cut what I need with spare.

From what I see, they are both 160 PSI and can both be used outside, so is there any reason of one over the other?

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"Black polyethylene" seems to commonly refer to HDPE pipe, which is pretty comparable to PEX. "Just" PE pipe is cheaper and less durable than HDPE - I'd advise against that underground.

PEXa ("Uponor/Wirsbo", "ProPEX", "F1960") is the best option, especially underground and in places with a potential for freezing, since it simply expands and contracts instead of bursting and leaking. However, PEXa is a bit more expensive and requires "expansion" style fittings, which while they are most reliable and free-flowing of all PEX connections, typically require more expensive tools that may not be worth it for a one time job if you can't rent them.

PEXc is the more common and typically cheapest form; connections are commonly "crimp" or "clamp" style which are more restrictive than expansion style, but the tool tends to be cheaper. PEXc will also expand and contract, but to a far lesser degree before risk of splitting.

Ultimately, PEX is the best option these days, but the type of PEX is more dependent on your situation.

  • If you plan to do more plumbing in the future and/or the pipe could be subject to freezing, PEXa along with Milwaukee's expansion tool (Milwaukee #2432) is the way to go for worry-free connections. There are also hand tools available for about half the price of a used Milwaukee kit ($160-200 on eBay at the time of writing).
  • If you can't rent or find the expansion tool for a reasonable price, or are simply more budget minded, PEXc using crimp or clamp style connections is likely the best path. Home Depot near me rents the tool for $16/day.
  • I used PexC for my new house plumbing supply and heating system. I am quite happy with it two years in. I also used it to run a cold line to my outbuilding. I didn't bury it very deep so I blow it out every fall with an air compressor to prevent freezing. Very inexpensive system and you can make wet changes very easily. Can't do that with copper or PVC. – ArchonOSX Aug 31 '17 at 19:59

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