PEX is a flexible plastic that is crosslinked polyethylene. This pipe already seems to replace the galvanized steel and traditional copper water supply lines in remodeling projects and new constructions. You may have seen rolls of red and blue PEX pipe in plumbing works for home improvement.
This colorful tubing excites DIYers since they can repair their water lines without requiring the services of a professional. This article covers more information and everything you need to know about PEX, such as the pros and cons and where to use it.
The Past and Present of PEX Plumbing
German scientist Thomas Engle discovered how one could crosslink polyethylene (common plastic) via radiation in 1968. That was in an attempt to create a suppler form of polyethylene. In the 1980s, the flexible PEX pipe, popularly known as PEX tubing, arrived in the U.S. This new plastic (PEX pipe) was mainly used for radiant floor heating systems.
The tubing is fixed in a concrete slab, after which hot water passes through to heat this slab. That, in turn, radiates heat to the entire room. PEX tubing is still widely known for radiant floor heating. Even though PEX was used widely for water supply systems in Europe from the 1980s, the idea was only somewhat welcomed in the U.S. because of the deterioration of earlier versions. The earlier PEX tubing versions would deteriorate once they come into contact with chlorine which is common in the country.
After antioxidants addition in the manufacturing process, PEX is now good for transporting drinking water. The pipe has met all potable water standards thanks to the fortification.
However, complaints were launched against the PEX water systems after the connecting accessories failed and leaked. These are the fittings that connect the lines. The brand enhanced the materials, and the issue was solved. Today, PEX tubing is popular and used in over 60% of new plumbing and residential water supply systems for potable water.
The conventional copper steel water systems installations entail main lines and numerous smaller branch lines. Every branch attached to the main line will require a different connection from other components. PEX tubing has a great advantage over other pipes since it is flexible.
Its flexibility allows it to connect the PEX manifold to one end of the PEX pipe. It then goes around through floors and walls to a given fixture. PEX tubing eliminates the leak risk at various connection sites thanks to the “homerun” plumbing. These installations use one PEX for cold and warm water supply accessories.
PEX Particulars in Hydronic Heating
Understand that PEX comes in different types of lengths. That could be from the 500 feet long pipes to a short 10-foot pipes. The short line is ideal for small repairs in your systems, while the long PEX tubing is perfect for the water supply system for the entire home. The PEX pipe diameter could be from sizes 3/8 to 1 inch. They also have a unique suitable color coding that identifies the pipe and its usage.
Even though PEX comes in different colors, they do not label the difference between these pipes. They will only let you know which pipe carries cold or hot water during installation.
· White PEX pipe – this tubing is for cold or warm water.
· Blue PEX pipe – this tubing is for cold water.
· Red PEX pipe – this tubing is for hot water.
· Gray PEX pipe – just like the white PEX, this tubing can also carry either cold or hot water.
Benefits of PEX Tubing
PEX tubing has several advantages over other plumbing pipes beyond being flexible. They may include:
One of the important benefits is the fact that this pipe can expand. That means it has a higher resistance to freeze-cracking than steel hence great durability.
It does not require soldering
With these PEX installations, you do not require solders like galvanized steel.
PEX does not corrode – no corrosion
Steel pipes can easily corrode, leading to leaks and water contamination. PEX tubing, on the other hand, has high corrosion resistance.
PEX pipes have distinct colors that enable the installer to understand what line carries what water. You will easily know the cold and hot water supply tubing.
Water flow is silent
With the PEX tubing systems, no water hammer noise is heard in metal piping.
Connections to existing supply systems
Even on existing plumbing systems, installation can be done if you have the correct fixtures and other accessories.
Not good for outdoors
Uv rays from the sun can destroy PEX. It can harden and crack in just a few months if left outdoors. Do not leave it exposed to the sun.
Requires special tools and connections
Even though it is easy to DIY the PEX tubing, you need special tools and connections to complete the task.
PEX cannot be recycled
PEX does not melt as typical plastics do. However, with the rising demand for this product, the manufacturer might ultimately find a way to make it recyclable.
Making PEX Connections
For watertight connections with the PEX tubing, you must have the appropriate supplies and tools. The connectors and fittings should match the PEX pipe size. Numerous fittings connect to either copper or steel pipes to PEX, usually made of brass. You could also use fittings to secure lines of different sizes. Here are five ways you can make watertight connections:
It is an expansion method of PEX connections where you use a PEX expander tool to stretch the PEX tube diameter and insert the fitting. The tubing will then shrink, making it produce a watertight connection.
Copper crimping with PEX Crimping Tool
Copper crimping is among the most common plumbing PEX connections. Here you have to connect copper crimping rings to PEX using a PEX crimping tool. Copper rings will slide to the PEX tube’s end, and a fitting will be added. You then push the ring to the end of your tubing and use the crimping tool to crimp the ring.
Stainless steel clamps (SSC)
In this method, you connect the tubing using a ratchet clamping tool. The tool tightens steel rings around your PEX installations. Just like with the copper crimping method, you slip the steel rings over the tube before the fitting. You then use a ratchet clamping tool to clamp a tab on this ring to make it watertight.
It is among the quickest and most easy methods to connect PEX. With this method, you must purchase special push-fit fittings that secure your PEX pipe’s end when inserted from one end. No special tools are required here, but you must purchase a removal ring to get rid of the fittings upon connection. However, if you cannot do it, you can consult and seek the services of a professional.
This fitting typically involves getting a threaded brass nut to the PEX tube’s end. You then follow the nut with a plastic compression ring. After that, you insert a hollow brass tube in one end of the tubing. Insert the entire PEX tubing into a threaded fitting end and then secure it with the threaded nut. The nut tightens to squeeze the plastic compression ring creating a tight seal.
PEX Usage Tips
To get the ultimate results in your plumbing endeavors, use the PEX-recommended tools only. A good example is you won’t get great results if you use pliers to secure a threaded nut that should be secured using a PEX crimping tool.
Make use of a PEX cutter to have clean end cuts. These cuts will be much easier since they join seamlessly depending on where you want to join them.
Store your PEX tubing away from the sun. They should be indoors because the pipe degrades upon exposure to UV light.
Considering installing some water systems in your residential area may be the best idea, especially with the PEX tubing systems. This PEX pipe for hot water will enable you easily warm up your floors and entire rooms.
What is PEX in plumbing?
PEX is cross-linked polyethylene and an ideal alternative to PVC, CPVC, and copper pipes for plumbing. Most homeowners are considering PEX installations to improve their homes.
Where is PEX not allowed?
PEX is allowed in almost every state as it is an alternative plumbing system to improve the house. However, do not install it in high-heat areas. That is because they will degrade and not last for long. The materials are semi-permeable, meaning external liquid can get in the pipes if installed near the water heater.
Is PEX pipe better than PVC?
PEX works much better than PVC pipes, especially when you have to connect the pipe to copper pipes. Even though PEX has a higher price, it has a lower labor cost than other installations and is more efficient.
What are the disadvantages of using a PEX tube?
Some of its disadvantages include the following:
· Require special tools during installations
· It cannot be recycled
· Not ideal for outdoor use
How long does PEX pipe last?
The pipes should last around 50 years, thanks to their durability and flexibility, meaning it is a great choice. Under normal circumstances, they could last even up to 100 years.