Smarter, Safer, In-Slab Plumbing with Pre-Sleeved PEX Pipe

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With plumbing hygiene becoming a bigger concern in our industry, installers and building
owners are looking to innovations that will ensure both efficiencies and reduced liability for their domestic water systems.

San Francisco, 2018 install with in-slab, pre-sleeved PEX

For these commercial plumbing applications, professionals are starting to turn to pre-sleeved PEX in the slab. It’s an innovative solution that offers several benefits for the contractor, owner and also the end user, including:

  • Shorter pipe runs for less material usage and better pressure to the fixtures
  • No hangers for less ladder time and faster installs
  • No insulation required for easier, more efficient installs
  • Long, flexible coils of pipe to eliminate fittings in the slab

And here’s where the safety factor comes in — because in-slab pre-sleeved PEX systems use shorter runs of pipe embedded in concrete, the water in the pipe is spending less time in the optimal bacterial grow zone (95°F to 115°F). Plus, the shorter pipe runs provide better pressure to the fixtures for higher velocity to minimize biofilm attachment and growth, especially compared to metallic piping systems.

San Francisco, 2018 install with in-slab, pre-sleeved PEX

In general, PEX is a superior product compared to metallic piping due to its corrosion resistance, freeze resistance, superior sound insulation qualities, smoother surface for reduced pressure loss and lighter weight for easy maneuverability on the job site.

Also, because PEX has stable pricing compared to copper, it’s easier to confidently bid a job without having to worry about price increases. And because PEX connections don’t require flame, there’s no need for fire watch requirements on a job site, adding to the cost-effective benefits of the system.

So you can see how adding pre-sleeved PEX in the slab can offer great benefits to your commercial plumbing systems. Now, the next question is, what can you buy and where do you get it?

Some PEX manufacturers offer their pre-sleeved piping with color-coded red and blue HDPE corrugated sleeving to easily identify hot and cold water lines. The HDPE sleeve protects the pipe in the slab and also makes it easier to remove, if necessary, without having to break up the slab. Pipe sizes are typically available from ½" to 1", but can vary by manufacturer.

To learn more about the pre-sleeved PEX offerings in your market, check out your favorite PEX manufacturer’s website; or to learn more about PEX in general, visit one of the plastic piping association websites at or

Guest Blogger: Kim Bliss is the content development manager at Uponor. She can be reached at

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