Manifolds, PE-XA Tubing, Plumbing System, Water Safety, Water Saving Technology

Flexible Plumbing Pipes & Clean Water: The Case for PE-Xa Pipes

Are you a water-wise engineer considering flexible plumbing pipes and a holistic system that promotes water safety?

If Hong Kong’s 2015 water safety scare taught us anything, it’s that plumbing system design and its components matter.

Discover why Uponor’s PE-Xa pipes are undoubtedly the industry choice for a highly efficient plumbing system and safer water now and into the future.

The Problem with Traditional Metal Pipes


In Hong Kong and many dense urban areas, the water itself isn’t the problem. It’s what happens when the water reaches pipes inside of buildings when things take a turn for the worst.

In 2015, Hong Kong experienced this first hand.

Negligence of pipe maintenance, the materials used and sitting water led to a discovery of lead of levels up to three times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended level in drinking water.

The only solution available (and a costly, severely inconvenient one at that) would be to systematically replace the old pipes in buildings and homes.

Today, metal pipes such as copper and stainless steel are still being used in modern homes.

The problem?

Pipe corrosion, a tainted water supply, and cost.

The Problem with Traditional Metal Pipes

Some of the common types of metal pipes and their drawbacks:

Copper: A popular pipe option since the 1960s. They have less leakage than other metallic types of piping. Although copper pipes themselves don’t pose a health risk to water drinkers, lead solder is potentially harmful.

Galvanised Steel: These are not often used in construction anymore. Homes built between the 1930s and 80s may have galvanised pipes. These homes need to be re-piped due to lead content. Zinc coated on the inside of the tubes cause internal rusting.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, but is not as cost-effective compared to PE-Xa or copper systems. Stainless steel can be challenging to work with, and thus, requires more labour costs for installation.


The Advent of PE-Xa Pipes

Flexible Plumbing Pipes & Clean Water The Case for PE-Xa Pipes

Cross-linked polyethylene pipes, or PE-Xa, came onto the market in the 1980s. At the time, copper had become the foremost in piping as it had replaced galvanised steel pipes. With the advent of PE-Xa, many issues engineers were having with copper, and other metallic pipes were resolved. Today, PE-Xa has become a popular alternative to copper and PVC pipes.

PE-Xa solves a lot of problems experienced when using metal pipes.

Firstly, there are not as many fittings to deal with since the pipe is flexible and can be bent and folded.

Secondly, PE-Xa doesn’t degrade like metal pipes, and it’s also able to handle freezing water without bursting.

Finally, PE-Xa flexible plumbing pipes don’t require soldering. This keeps engineers and plumbers from being exposed to hazardous soldering fumes.


Key Installation Advantages of Flexible Plumbing Pipes


  • Pipe available in a variety of dimensions – from 16mm to 75mm
  • Smooth bore that prevents scaling
  • Use with either Quick & Easy fittings or standard compression fittings
  • Straight and coil lengths minimise waste
  • PE-Xa pipe is available in pipe-in-conduit to meet specific water regulations
  • One pipe is suitable for heating and potable water


Uponor’s Quick & Easy System with PE-Xa Pipes

Uponor’s Quick & Easy System with PE-Xa Pipes

Pipes are only components of a greater water safety picture and are only as effective at ensuring safer water as the plumbing system they are used in.

Uponor’s Quick & Easy (Q&E) system is one such system.

The complete plumbing system design of the Q&E consists of pipes, tools, fittings and accessories for all plumbing situations. The Q&E system boasts many design benefits, but the primary hallmark of the system is its unique elastic features.

The Q&E system uses PE-Xa flexible plumbing pipes for its durability and flexibility.

It’s approved for use with a wide range of temperatures and pressures. With the Q&E system, pipes are joined with unique joining technology that relies on the pipe’s elastic memory.


How It Works


A Q&E ring is fit over the pipe end. Then, both pipe and ring are expanded using an Uponor expander tool (Hand Expander or Milwaukee M12 Cordless Expander). Once the pipe and ring are expanded to the proper diameter, they are fit over the Q&E fitting.

This is when the magic happens.

The pipe and ring shrink back to their original sizes within seconds, creating an effective, water-tight seal.

Flexible Plumbing Pipes and Expander Tool

Q&E fittings are made from PPSU (Polyphenylsulfone Radel R 5100). Fittings are available as elbows, reducers, tees, couplings, tap connectors and threaded adaptors.

The Q&E system can be installed with either the manifold plumbing system or the branch system. Engineers often use the manifold system since it provides joint-free pipe runs from a centrally located manifold. This way, the risk of leaks is reduced as there are no connections within the walls or floor while fewer fittings reduce labour time and costs.


Q&E System & PE-Xa Benefits




For residents, clean water is a necessity. Contaminated water from rusted pipes and lead solder pose significant health risks. The Q&E system with PE-Xa piping is ideal for engineers looking for a safe water solution. Unlike metallic pipes, PE-Xa doesn’t allow heavy metals to leach into the water supply. Pipe corrosion is not an issue with Uponor’s Q&E plumbing system design.

Non-corrosive fittings with flexible plumbing pipes-1



PE-Xa material is far more cost-effective than copper or stainless steel. It’s also easier to work with. This translates to lower labour costs. The fitting technology leverages PE-Xa’s shrink-back to decrease installation times. Tools and accessories by Uponor keep installation safe and straightforward. There is no soldering or risk of fire with the Q&E system.

Conserve Water


Fewer fittings mean fewer opportunities for leaks. The Q&E manifold plumbing system includes easy to join, non-corrosive fittings. This protects homes from damaging leaks while conserving water.


The Ideal Solution for Water Wise Engineers


The Q&E fittings along with PE-Xa pipes offers more than most conventional plumbing systems. The innovative PE-Xa material adds a level of safety for consumers. Water hygiene is a major concern for everyone. Unlike metal piping systems, there are no concerns of heavy metal contamination with PE-Xa pipes.

In addition to water safety, water conservation is a primary issue for end-users. Chances of leaks that may lead to water damage and wastage are significantly lessened with PE-Xa.

Lastly, both engineers and end-users alike will benefit from the cost-effectiveness of PE-Xa pipes and the Q&E system.

Ultimately, PE-Xa pipes with the Q&E system is a plumbing system design that offers water-wise engineers the best water safety solution out there today.



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