PEX Pipes: A Complete Guide

Table of Contents

PEX Piping

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Many individuals believe that PEX pipes will change the plumbing business to become the most preferred pipeline material for domestic water systems, substituting copper. Most households are undoubtedly somewhere in the center because PEX is a new material that many individuals don’t know more about, but anybody contemplating a plumbing installation or replacement should consider PEX as an alternative.

When contrasted to rigid pipe, elastic PEX pipe offers several advantages in terms of durability, dependability, and cost-effectiveness. PEX pipe is the most significant technological advancement ever since flush toilet innovation. With this PEX plumbing tutorial, you’ll learn what it is and everything concerning it.

 

What Exactly Is a PEX Pipe?

PEX pipe and fitting

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“PEX” refers to cross-linked polyethylene, a form of material that is allowed for use in water supply systems by all international plumbing standards. It’s not a new concept. PEX pipe, which has been designed and utilized in Europe ever since the 1960s, is being used in the United States ever since the 1990s for both plumbing and heated flooring systems. As a result, there is a substantial number of experience behind the usage of PEX pipe.

PEX piping is available in all conventional pipe diameters, allowing it to be integrated into existing pipework. It is available in coils ranging in length from 100 to 500 feet. This is significant since most forms of PEX tend to revert to a coiled form, making it slightly harder to deal with; however, the substance is also offered in 10 feet lengths, enabling it to be easier to manage.

Because most PEX is available in blue or red, you might need red for heated water and blue for chilly. Both cold and hot water systems can utilize any hue, but the hues make it much easier to maintain a project structure. If the pipe is visible, most people prefer to use white PEX.

PEX pipe is less than fifty percent of copper plumbing fittings and installations significantly faster. PEX is also useful for renovation since it is flexible. PEX has a high “memory,” meaning it constantly seeks to return to its original form. Working with a bundle of PEX is therefore like grappling with a big Slinky. You’re better off getting 10-foot “sticks” for most projects. You’ll have to spend a few cents more for each foot and add a connector or two, but you’ll save time and eliminate kinks.

PEX, like Polyvinyl chloride, is elastic and can be twisted around a small radius and threaded to fittings efficiently. Because it expands far more than copper, this should not be stretched to approach fittings and should be allowed to droop considerably between fastenings to accommodate for contraction. A ring of tubing can be inserted in a lengthy line to accommodate for a lot of compressions. When passing tubing through nerfing darts, make the openings large enough to permit the tube to slide easily as it contracts and expands while also protecting the conduit from scratches from friction with rough surfaces. PEX is vulnerable to UV radiation from the sunshine and fluorescent lights, thus if used outside, it should be protected (either by a tarp or with a tarpaulin).

Advantages of PEX Piping

Connecting PEX pipe

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Some of the benefits of PEX pipe are as follows:

  • Flexible and faster construction: One of the many advantages of PEX pipe over other pipeline solutions that stands out for me is its adaptability. Without the use of extra joints and fittings, PEX pipes can readily navigate and bend around curves. This considerably saves material costs since the pipings have fewer interconnections, hence eliminating potential leaks. Furthermore, PEX piping fits quite well with loops that come in sizes of up to 20 m, providing them durability.
  • Freezing and Sturdiness PEX is resistant to scale accumulation, which is a typical occurrence in copper pipes. PEX is also corrosion resistant and chlorine, which is a problem with copper pipes. PEX pipelines can also operate under harsh temperatures, making them ideal for a wide range of uses. PEX pipes are less vulnerable to rupture due to their capacity to expand not to become fragile during harsh freezing temperatures. However, typical installation considerations should still be followed.
  • Assurance: There is no need to use glue, fuse, solvents, or torches while piping PEX. This protects potentially hazardous compounds from entering the plumbing system. Because no extra tools are required, the risks of leaks, mistakes, and, most critically, water damage are greatly avoided.
  • Pipework costs between $2 to $four per linear foot, whereas PEX costs approximately 45 cents to 2 dollars per linear foot, based on pipe diameter.
  • Since PEX is elastic and can be curved around corners instead of using elbows and other connections to produce turns, it requires less connections than other forms of pipe.
  • Installation takes less time and is less difficult than for other materials. There is no joining, as with copper pipework, or gluing, as with Polyvinyl and CPVC. The majority of connections are formed by clamping or crimpling fittings towards the pipe.
  • In contrast to the dry pipes required when bonding copper, fittings may be put in wet lines.
  • PEX will not corrode like copper.
  • Because the material has the ability to expand, it will not explode if water is cooled inside it.
  • PEX is around half the price of copper in terms of both the material prices and labor for expert installation.
  • Although PEX is not simple to deal with, I’m confident that diligent Homeowners would be capable of making excellent use of it.
  • PEX offers a central cutoff, which means that every single pipe’s valve shutdown is placed at the junction. In most cases, the manifold is positioned in which the water main reaches the home. 
  • Labels, such as “bathroom sink” or “kitchen sink,” are installed in the last shutting valve. This simplifies the process of repiping when necessary because you will not have to turn off all water, just the water you are able to repair.
  • PEX pipes are excellent at reducing water flow noise, which is uncommon in copper piping systems.
  • PEX pipe dimensions and sizes are classified in such a manner that a skilled plumber will have no trouble setting up and fitting plumbing fixtures.

Limitation

PEX pipe installation

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Although the benefits of PEX greatly exceed the drawbacks, it is nonetheless necessary to consider them. Here are a few disadvantages of PEX pipes.

  • UV rays are particularly damaging to PEX. During installation, professionals always recommend minimal or limited contact with sunlight.
  • Chemicals and vermin are easily attracted to PEX. Another odd concern with PEX has been reported, and that is mice nibbling away at your pipe, which is not conceivable with metal or copper pipes. However, it is more of a rat issue than a pipe one.
  • Because PEX is semi-permeable, fluid can penetrate the pipe. PEX is not anti-bacterial, which is a safety hazard. Interfering liquids in the pipe might cause pollution.
  • Because of its plastic nature, PEX cannot be fixed in bright sun or soils containing chemicals. It also cannot be used in association with any oils or nutrient treatments, since this might harm the pipe.
  • Technicians should store PEX away from fires and high temperatures to avoid melting.

PEX Applications

PEX pipe for heated floors

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PEX piping may be used in a variety of home construction applications. The primary focus of this Guideline is the construction and operation of PEX cold and hot water distribution systems.

It may be used for both new construction and rehabilitation projects.

Other applications for PEX are discussed in a different section of this tutorial, and they are as follows:

  • Radiant electric baseboard heaters systems for concrete or cantilevered floor construction
  • Municipal city water pipe for subterranean applications
  • Ice and snow melting systems for pavements, roads, entrances, and staircases
  • Horticultural, golf course, and sports field turf maintenance
  • Firefighting equipment /residential fire sprinklers

Ice melt, floor cooling, and frost protection are examples of heat transfer uses.

PEX piping, which comes in sizes ranging from 1⁄4 to 2 inches, is frequently used. On a dimension basis, piping It is possible to employ home-run setups with centralized manifolds to equalize outlet pressures and reduce hot water supply wait time, resulting in less wastewater generated

Water and power. Manifolds, which minimize the quantity of pipe and fittings, can be fitted to accelerate installation and maintain determined experimentally throughout the process

 

PEX Pipe Varieties

Red coil PEX pipe A

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PEX pipe comes in three varieties: A, B, and C. The alphabet identifiers have nothing to do with the molecule’s quality. All of them are inter-linked polyethylene materials that fulfill all of the requirements for potable waterways. The letters represent the sort of production method, and various procedures result in varying characteristics.

The most adaptable variety of PEX pipes is PEX pipe A. Because it has very low coil memory, if you stretch a portion of PEX A, it will stay straight. If a kink forms in the pipeline, you may realign it by using a heat gun on the affected part. Because of its versatility, it is ideal for do-it-yourself projects, although it can cost twice as much as PEX b costs.

PEX pipe B is less elastic than PEX pipe A, making it even more difficult to deal with. If a bend forms in the pipe, it should be cut and rejoined using a coupling. It is the absolute cheapest variety of PEX, making it popular among plumbers, particularly in new building projects. It is much more impervious to chlorine deterioration than the other varieties, making it an excellent choice for public water supplies that use a lot of chlorides. It can withstand higher pressure and temperature than the other varieties before exploding.

PEX pipe C is not as common in the piping systems as the other two. In terms of elasticity, it lies between B and A, and its production technique is the most ecologically friendly. It cracks more easily than the other varieties. Bends in the connection must be rectified by cutting and reconnecting the portions using couplings.

 

Connections for PEX Pipe

Brass female crimp connector

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The good thing about PEX pipe interconnections is that they are simple to construct and dependable. The bad news is that any construction equipment you have for dealing with PVC and copper will be useless since you’ll need a few specialized products.

PEX connections are formed using specially engineered capped fittings made of either polymer or brass, or plastic. PEX nudge fittings are also accessible. Fittings are available for any form of a link, including PEX to various types of plumbing pipe components. Clamps rings or crimps are used to attach PEX types B and C fittings. The clamp or ring is put over the pipeline during assembly, and the fit is fitted into the tube.  The link is then secured using either a clamping tool or a crimping tool.

When using hose clamps and crimps the fitting reduces the radius of the tubing, which restricts flow thru the pipe slightly. Many are times, this isn’t an issue, but in large residences with low water levels, a reduction in flow can be evident.

An expansion fitting is used in PEX type A. An extension tool is used for assembly to extend the tip of the pipe hole. The fitting, which is also the entire circumference of the pipe, is inserted into the aperture, and the molecule’s characteristics lead it to decrease back to its original size, establishing a tight seal all around the fitting.

There are tools specifically designed for dealing with PEX. The tools used to attach hose clamps and crimps are manually controlled and cost less than 100 dollars. For around the same cost, there are other manually controlled expansion tools. Battery-powered expansion devices can cost between $300 and $500, although they can be rented in a variety of locations.

Crimp connections, when done correctly, are an easy-to-learn, quick-to-install, and low-cost technique of joining PEX. Most stores have tools and rings in stock. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to buy different toolsets for each pipe dimension.

These connections have been certified for insertion behind walls as well as direct burying in soil. However, when buried in soil, the copper crimp ring band can corrode, thus it’s critical to encapsulate the connection in an impervious substance.

Crimp

Brass crimp male connector

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A copper ring-like band on the exterior of the conduit and an insertion fitting that fits inside the pipe are used in the crimp connection. The relevant ASTM standards regulate it: F1807 for metallic insert connections and F2159 for PVC insert fittings.

Begin by making a clean, continuous straight cut on the end of the barrel to form a connection. Then, place the crimping ring well over the pipe’s tip and put a fitting into it. Return the ring to the top of the tube where the pipeline and fitting meet. The placement of the ring changes depending on the manufacturer, therefore always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

After putting the ring band on the pipe, wrap the tip of a crimp tool around and squeeze it till the tool comes to a halt. After connecting, utilize a turn gauge to ensure a successful connection.  Unsecured crimps can cause leaks, whereas very tight crimps can harm the fitting or pipe.

 

Clamp

PVC clamp

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The clamp attachment method employs a steel ring on the pipe’s exterior, with an insertion fitting inserted into the pipe. This approach is compliant with the ASTM F2098 technical requirements.

The technician must first confirm that the tool is correctly calibrated before making a good connection. The procedure is thus identical to that of a crimp link begins with a clean, straight cut on the side of the tube, then slides the band over it, attaches the fitting, and repositions the band over the fitting and pipe depending manufacturer. Once you’ve properly positioned the ring, use a clamping tool to squeeze it until the tool comes to a halt. Most tools will not allow you to go until the link is established.

Clamp couplings, like crimp connections, are straightforward to understand and set up, and the supplies are widely accessible at a number of merchants. Clamp couplings, on the other hand, have a modest benefit in that they only need one tool for each size attachment. There is no need to buy separate heads for each pipe.

The disadvantage is that, just like the crimping technique, it violates the characteristics of PEX. The conduit will continue to oppose the power of the ring surrounding it as time passes. Water flow is restricted because connections with smaller internal diameters are placed into the pipe.

 

Plumbing Manifolds and PEX

PEX manifolds

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The main water supply line, known as the trunk, in a normal residential plumbing system is generally 3/4 inches or 1 inch wide. Different fixtures are serviced by relatively smaller radius pipes that split off the mainline. It’s a design that necessitates the use of several fittings to establish the important connections, and fittings are time-consuming to install. In addition, if there is a leakage, it is almost often the result of a broken connection.

The classic trunk and branches system could also be utilized with PEX tubing, but also can be used on a manifold system. A piping manifold serves as the control center and command for a home’s plumbing. The primary cold water pipe as well as the pipe from the hot water system link to the manifold instead of traveling all through the home.

Each of the remaining connections on the manifold serves a single fixture. Since PEX goes from the manifolds to specific fixtures, the manifold saves branch lines. Because PEX is so adaptable, the only interconnections that are frequently required are at the manifolds and the fixtures. The “home run” technique is another name for this straight manifold to fixture arrangement.

 

Do I Require Any Special Equipment?

PEX pipe tube ratchet clinch clamp

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Yes. When piping with PEX, you can construct interconnections with stab-in or pressure fittings, but they are very pricey for large projects. Many PEX supply jobs need the use of a specialized instrument. There are various PEX supply connection options, but only 2 are inexpensive enough for Homeowners to use:  cinch clamps or crimp clamps.

Crimp rings are bands of metal, often copper, that is slipped over the connection and compressed with a crimping ring tool. The biggest disadvantage is that you will require different crimping tools for both ½ inch and three-quarter inch fittings or a general tool with an interchangeable component.

Tight fit clamps function similarly to the standard band clamps that you’re surely acquainted with. To adjust the cinch clamp, you put the cinch clamp instrument over the projecting tab and press. The very same tool may be used to tighten all diameters of cinch clamps. We prefer the one-handed design since it allows you to keep the ring in position with one hand while adjusting it with the other one.

The only other specific item required is a tube cutter that looks like a pair of scissors.

 

What is The Right Material of a Plumbing Pipe Job?

Copper vs PEX shark bite pipe

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Copper. Copper is frequently utilized and has a high melting point. It is usually utilized for final connections to central heating systems boilers/furnaces when temps can reach 100°C (212°F). The downside of copper pipe (or “tubes” as it is regarded in the plumbing business) is that it is stiff and can only be curved with special equipment or with separate sections of pipe and 45° or 90° connectors.

Stainless steel is used. Stainless steel piping was prominent amid a copper scarcity in the 1970s. However, it is more stiff than copper, making any bending impossible. Stainless steel is said to be a higher corrosive environment than copper and is occasionally used for aesthetic purposes where the piping must be visible.

PEX. Cross-linked HDPE high-density polyethylene is also used to make plumbing tubing (PEX). This is a strong, ductile substance that can withstand freezing temperatures as -20°C (-4°F) without exploding. PEX may be less than half the cost of copper and does not degrade when used in areas with acidic water. PEX is elastic, like PVC, and can be twisted over a narrow radius and readily threaded to fittings. Because it expands more than copper, it must not be extended to reach connections and should be left to sag slightly between fastening to permit contracting.

 

Conclusion

While learning the benefits and drawbacks of each connection technique is critical for the optimal installation experience, there is one critical aspect to remember when building a PEX pipe system.

Since most PEX producers provide a guarantee, it’s vital to stay with one reputable manufacturer like TUBOMART. Why? Because if you mix manufacturers for the pipe, connectors, casings, and rings, your guarantee may be severely reduced or invalidated.

Contact us, today for any PEX pipe, fittings and installation tools, and you be glad we plugged you.

 

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