My landlord fixed a leak from the baseboard heating system using a plumber who decided to run the red [guessing PEX pipes] from the water heater/boiler to the baseboards along the ceiling. The pipes are exposed on the inside [hall, closet, and 2 bedrooms]. There is no insulation around the pipes and they are held in place by plastic nails/fastener.

To save money, she did not want to cut the gyprock and place the pipes inside the wall.

Now, I can see some reddish hue along the ceiling above the pipes.

Question: Is this safe? What dangers lurk by running exposed hot water pipes along the ceiling?

  • That plumber should have at least used white pex instead of red!
    – Ariel
    Jan 14, 2015 at 21:34

5 Answers 5


As long as it's oxygen-barrier PEX (red often is) then it should be just fine for baseboard heating. The reddish hue on your ceiling is odd, but I have a hunch it's just light reflecting off of the red pipe.

Not putting it inside the walls is being a bit cheap, but, then again, there's some argument for making pipes easily accessible too. If you want to cover them, one option may be to get some crown moulding to put over it.

As for insulation, there's no need for that as long as the pipe is on the conditioned side of the wall (as yours is).

  • 1
    Just don't drive any nails through the PEX when you're installing the crown molding! Jan 16, 2015 at 4:07
  • PEX should not be exposed to UV light. It breaks down rapidly in sunlight. If it is installed in an area that gets direct sunlight, it should be covered up. Jan 25, 2016 at 14:28

It is safe. No dangers lurk. Relax and be happy you don't own the place (so deciding what to spend money on when it breaks is not your problem.)

  • Agreed, it is possibly an eyesore to some and a novelty for others.
    – wallyk
    Jan 14, 2015 at 20:42

The quest for the cheapest possible plumbing and electrical continues. Next step: pipes and conduit made out of cardboard and epoxy, hung from the ceiling with tissue paper and twine.

If it pops a leak you will know much sooner :-)

The main issue is that the pipe would be more likely to get damaged, for example, by someone hanging or attaching something to the pipe. Don't do pullups on it, ok?

  • You're joking, but... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangeburg_pipe
    – iLikeDirt
    Jan 14, 2015 at 22:08
  • @iLikeDirt - our major city construction project several years back was replacing the sewer mains in the north end of town that were put in around the WWII era. That Wiki description is way too close to what was being dug out because it had started to collapse and leak from the street traffic. It was described as a cardboard like material used in place of concrete sewer tile due to material shortages during the war effort. Jan 15, 2015 at 2:39
  • Awful stuff. The original septic leach field for my house used this stuff too. What were they thinking?!
    – iLikeDirt
    Jan 15, 2015 at 2:43
  • 1
    there's nothing particularly cheap about PEX
    – DA01
    Jan 15, 2015 at 4:41
  • @iLikeDirt Orangeburg pipe has been around forever. Well, at least since the 1940's. It was basically tar paper rolled up and pressure-formed into pipes. Didn't read the Wikipedia article, but I know the stuff was used during WWII because other pipe-making materials (metals, plastics) were badly needed for the war effort and in short supply. What's unfortunate about there being so much Orangeburg in the ground is that it was designed to have a limited life, and our genius species keeps spending money on things other than fixing our aging public infrastructure. Jan 16, 2015 at 4:13

The only issue I see with this is the liability of the pipes themselves. It kind of sounds like a cheap hack job. When pipes are inside walls - 99.9% of the time - and they break the water just travels down. Usually the initial damage is minimal.

Now when you have pipes in the open there is a chance that it could initially damage something expensive right away. Also if something did happen you would almost need to prove that you didn't hit the pipe or cause it.


Myself I like the idea of having water pipes where I can see them, if the work is done well. I've had too many problems with pipes run in areas like crawlspaces or outside walls that get too cold and freeze. Then you've got a big mess to find and replace the leaking pipe. If the frozen pipe thaws while you're at work or away, one heck of a lot of water can pour out before you discover it. I think it's better to have water pipes exposed high up on inside walls so that they are much less likely to freeze.

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