Easier Plumbing with PEX Piping

Consider using flexible PEX piping on your next plumbing project. It's easy to manipulate and installs quickly and economically.

| June/July 2006

  • PEX piping - plumbing installation
    PEX piping's ease of use makes it perfect for do-it-yourself plumbing projects.
    Photo by Michael Maxwell
  • PexPliable.jpg
    PEX can bend in any direction and will remain in a fixed position. Use a metal tube like this to prevent kinks when tight bends are required
    STEVE MAXWELL
  • PexHub.jpg
    Unlike rigid piping that uses a straight-line network of pipes to deliver water to appliances and fixtures, PEX delivers constant pressure to all fixtures by directing water in one central tube to a hub, where water is then equally distributed in half-inch lines throughout the house.
    STEVE MAXWELL
  • HubConnection.jpg
    A PEX hub connection and its O-rings.
    STEVE MAXWELL
  • Copper.jpg
    To learn how to connect PEX piping to existing copper pipes, see “Connecting to Copper.”
    STEVE MAXWELL
  • CompressionFittings.jpg
    For small jobs, compression fittings are the least expensive way to join PEX piping.
    MICHAEL MAXWELL
  • CrimpOn.jpg
    Crimp-on connection rings are the most economical way to make a large number of PEX connections, but the crimping tool can cost several hundred dollars.
    STEVE MAXWELL
  • CrimpingTool.jpg
    This crimping tool, which can cost several hundred dollars, is necessary to make PEX connections using crimp-on connection rings.
    MICHAEL MAXWELL
  • Valves.jpg
    Valves and T-connections can be installed in PEX much more easily than in rigid piping.
    STEVE MAXWELL
  • PEX piping - reaming and cutting tools
    Tools of the trade: A reaming tool (left) imparts a perfectly round shape to the inside of the PEX line, ensuring good connections. A specialized cutting tool supports the round profile of the plastic tube.
    STEVE MAXWELL

  • PEX piping - plumbing installation
  • PexPliable.jpg
  • PexHub.jpg
  • HubConnection.jpg
  • Copper.jpg
  • CompressionFittings.jpg
  • CrimpOn.jpg
  • CrimpingTool.jpg
  • Valves.jpg
  • PEX piping - reaming and cutting tools

Next time you need to replace pipes in your home, consider an alternative to rigid piping that comes in rolls, can be cut easily to any desired length, and requires no soldering and very few joint fittings. Generically called PEX-AL-PEX, this flexible plastic piping is so easy to install that you can handle most projects quickly on your own.

Although PEX-AL-PEX is relatively new to North America, it’s approved in major plumbing codes, and professional plumbers are increasingly choosing PEX-AL-PEX because of its successful 30-year track record in Europe. It’s a little more expensive than rigid copper piping — but the advantages outweigh the extra cost. Plus, you can save money by doing the job yourself. You can buy it at major hardware stores, where it’s usually sold as water supply piping and infloor radiant-heat lines. When you buy PEX piping at the hardware store, make sure the tubing is stamped with “NSF-61” or “NSF pw” (for potable water), which distinguishes it from the PEX that is used only for infloor radiant heating applications.

PEX-AL-PEX is named for its sandwich-layered construction that uses cross-linked polyethylene plastic as the outside layer (PEX), aluminum as the middle layer (AL) and another layer of cross-linked poly on the inside. To keep it simple in this article, I’ll refer to PEX-AL-PEX as just PEX, though that name also is used for plastic-only water supply lines.

PEX is worth considering for your next plumbing project for three reasons:



Flexibility. PEX can be hand-bent in any direction and will remain in a fixed position. This allows you to work it around and through existing floor joists, walls and frame members. PEX bends tightly up to a 3-inch radius without forming kinks, which significantly reduces the need for most elbow joints.

Easy joint assembly. PEX joints usually are made with either threaded compression fittings or crimp-on-connection rings. These joints are fast and easy to complete, and you don’t have to torch and solder them, except when you connect new PEX lines to existing copper supply pipes. But even connecting copper pipes to PEX is a job that most people can do themselves — all it takes is some basic knowledge of plumbing skills and PEX joints.

Gayathri
2/3/2014 1:02:30 AM

Wonderful writeup! PEX pipes are highly durable, resistant to extreme high and low temperatures, much efficient, provide fast flowing water, can reduce your utility bills, are environmentally friendly, and last a lifetime. Attaching PEX tube to fittings does not require soldering, and so eliminates the health hazards involved with lead-based solder and acid fluxes. PEX is also safer to install since a torch is not needed to make connections. http://calmet.com/iron-castings-foundry.html


Anabell Jones
12/13/2013 7:38:57 AM

Tips are definitely worthy of being followed. The plumbing with PEX is definitely easier than normal. http://www.expressplumbing.com.au/


manmohanpvc
9/26/2013 4:03:16 AM

Great tips. very well-written, keyword-oriented and incredibly useful. its really interesting to many readers. I really appreciate this, thanks http://www.pisces-aqua.co.uk/pipe/






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