Doing plumbing work yourself has only been easy until recently for most homeowners. In the past, most pipes were galvanized. They were heavy and quite challenging to work with.
Making threads on a galvanized pipe is a task that was only left for a few homeowners. While copper pipes are lighter and relatively easy to cut, sweating their joints using a torch is quite intimidating for most DIY enthusiasts.
However, the invention of PEX pipes and easy-to-use pipe connectors has made it easy for most homeowners to do plumbing work on their own.
What’s a PEX Pipe?
PEX is a type of polyethylene plastic. PEX pipe is made by cross-linking polyethylene bonds to form a chemical structure that makes the pipe stronger and more flexible than other pipes made of plastic.
PEX is the most preferred choice of pipe than galvanized, copper, and PVC pipes. PEX tubing can be crushed, twisted, or bent and it’ll regain its original structure and shape.
Applying heat at low temperature will assist the pipe in returning to its initial state. PEX tubing can be linked to existing copper pipes using clamp-fit, crimp-fit, or push-fit type of connectors.
How to Join PEX Pipes
You can use thermal-expansion technique to join PEX pipes. Thermal-expansion entails using a heat gun to heat the end of a PEX pipe to make it expand.
The expanded end is quickly slipped onto the fitting. As it cools, the pipe will contract and fit tightly around the fitting.
Another method of joining PEX pipes is using a push-fit type of connector. With this type of connector, you won’t require any tools.
You’ll simply push one end of the connector into the plumbing fitting by hand and push the PEX pipe into the other end of the connector.
The connector will fit firmly into the pipe and fitting. Using this connector is one of the most preferred methods of joining PEX pipes among DIY plumbing enthusiasts.
Clamp rings work like copper rings. They usually encircle a pipe. They’re forced tightly in place using a special plumbing tool.
When using crimp to join PEX pipes, you’ll simply fit the PEX pipe into a brass fitting. The copper rings will encircle the plumbing connection.
You’ll need to use a special crimping tool to deform the rings slightly and ensure they fit tightly in place.
The Available Sizes of PEX Tubing and Pipes
Common Diameters of PEX Pipes
Three-quarter inch diameter: A ¾ inch pipe is specially designed for use in supplying water from a water heater. It’s also used for supplying cold water into the home.
However, for most codes of plumbing, you cannot use the initial 18 inches (in length) of a PEX pipe as the water line from a water heater.
Half-inch diameter: A ½ inch pipe is mainly used for making branch supply lines. It’s the most common size that most DIY plumbers encounter.
Branch lines supply water from the main supply line to fixtures such as the bathtub, shower, kitchen sink, and the bathroom sink.
Common Lengths of PEX Pipes
A major unique aspect of PEX pipes that distinguishes them from copper and galvanized pipes is that they’re available in extremely lengthy sections.
You can find PEX tubing coils as long as 100 to 500 ft. Such lengthy pipes are ideal for manifold plumbing systems that run many supply lines and branches from one point.
Shorter lengths are also available in lengths such as 4 to 10 ft. Shorter PEX lengths are ideal for DIY enthusiasts.
Why PEX Tubing and Pipes Are a Great Choice for DIY Plumbing
These pipes come in different color codes. Each color code represents the specific use of the pipe. For instance, RED PEX tubing is designed for use as a hot water line.
White PEX pipes are designed for use as either cold or hot water lines. Finally but not least, blue PEX pipes are meant for use as cold water lines.
Pipes made of PEX are more affordable than copper pipes. They usually cost a third of copper pipes. Prices for copper pipes fluctuate wildly, making them dependent on prevailing market forces.
You can bend PEX tubing to 90 degrees, that’s the radius correlating with the pipe diameter.
The radius for a half-inch PEX tubing is five inches while the radius for a three-quarter inch PEX tubing is seven inches. For straight PEX runs, you’ll get some room for wiggling.
Easy and Quick to Cut
PEX is quite soft in nature. Thus, it’s easier and quicker to cut through a PEX pipe than galvanized or copper pipes. You can use a special rotational tool to cut through a PEX pipe.
The razor blade of the tool rotates around a PEX pipe and cuts it easily. You’ll only make 5-6 turns to cut the pipe. You can also use a sharp tube cutter to cut the PEX pipe using your hand in just one snap.
Easy and Fast to Join
You can simply join PEX pipe to existing pipes or fixtures using the push-fit type of pipe connectors.
These connectors can be used by hand. You don’t need any specialized tool to use the connectors. It’s also easy to learn how to use the crimp-fit type of connector with the help of a crimping tool.