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What is PEX Plumbing?

5 Star Plumbing > Blog > What is PEX Plumbing?

For the majority of people who are on their path to master independent plumbing or ones who have ever talked to a plumber in person, it is extremely likely to know the term PEX plumbing. It may be taken as something serious and professional, something which is unreachable to a usual plumbing equipment installer. However, it is a glaring mistake! Read our article to find out why PEX plumbing is better to use when trying to set a new plumbing system by yourself.

What Is Meant by PEX Plumbing?

PEX is decrypted as Cross-Linked Polyethylene. It means that PEX pipes are just plumbing equipment made from plastic polyethylene already prepared for the final installation and further use. 

PEX pipes are considered to be a great alternative to galvanized steel, copper, PVC, and CPVC pipes. Their most powerful benefit is that you can do anything with them, including twisting, folding, even smashing, but they will return to their original shape. That feature lets the beginning plumbers try every maneuver while setting up the system and still stay safe with no damage to the pipes. However, pro-level plumbers can mix the materials and use PEX pipes to repair cooper or steel water drainage systems.

It is extremely convenient that PEX pipes are also widely used not only for plumbing affairs but also for cooling, radiant heating, isolating, and multipurpose fire systems. 

Before trying to apply PEX equipment by yourself, contact your developer or plumbing master in order to know whether this material is plausible in your house!

Benefits of Using PEX Equipment

  1. Installing PEX tubes is many times cheaper than using the same equipment of another material, copper or steel, for instance. It is also to save money on calling a master as it is a widely shared practice to do such work independently. Furthermore, it is a great way to try yourself at a new beginning!
  2. Unlike other materials, PEX details are less likely to change over time. As copper or steel may corrode, CPVC can become fragile, PEX equipment will live long!
  3. Moreover, PEX is not afraid of freezing temperatures. Although it unfolds in higher temperatures, it will not burst until 15 percent expansion.
  4. It is flexible and can be installed even without fittings. This fact remains important after the pipes are placed in the ground, so there should be no worries about the tubes’ endurance. With this feature, PEX is also good at being an insulator.
  5. PEX pipes can take many form variations by curving which lets you install them in spite of any obstacles. Since that, there is a possibility to prolong the pipe system throughout the wall and floor as a single system to its final connection.
  6.  Moreover, PEX pipes decrease the heat loss during the process of water supply. Unlike metal tubes, it also provides a better flow through the pipe and the tap.
  7. Also, PEX pipes do not require loads of fittings, connectors, and additional details as copper tubes do. Overall, it is considered to be the material used for the easiest setting of plumbing systems.

Supplements to PEX Pipes

As mentioned before, PEX equipment can be mixed with the pipes of other materials. But firstly let’s figure out how to connect the pipes made only with PEX. Note that some of the approaches require supplementary equipment.

Connecting PEX Tubes

  1. Just fit and kick them. One of the easiest ways to connect two PEX details is just to fit one pipe into another and push them together. They stay pasted together because of the tiny denticles inside of the tubes. 
  2. Using a heat gun, special fittings, and the pipes, gently heat up the end of one pipe (the material expands with the increase in temperature), put it over the other pipe, and use the fitting to put them all together like a puzzle. After the temperature lowers, the pipe will become the initial size, thus, thins above the lower tube.
  3. With help of copper rings, brass fittings, and a crimping tool, the pipes are layering upon each other, while one crimps it all together.
  4. The last possible tip is to use copper clamps to encircle and shut the connection of the pipes.

Remember to label the installed pipes, at least every 5 feet of the line must be labeled with the following information:

  • trademark or the supplier of the material;
  • pipe standard to which your equipment corresponds;
  • pressure and temperature ratings of the installed pipes;
  • pipe designation code, tube size, CTS, and SDR9;
  • label the potable water pipes, if applicable.

PEX Tubes and Sizing

The main water line is supplied with a common three-quarter inch in diameter PEX pipe. It is usually connected to the general water heater or a cold water tube. But according to most states’ plumbing codes, the first 18 inches of the connection should be supplied with non-PEX pipes. 

However, the majority of usual PEX users will only need half-inch diameter pipes. These are used inside the house by connecting the main tube with the taps.

What is about the length, PEX tubes can be found almost in any home center, and are cut according to your desire. The common length of the purchased section is from 100 to 500 feet. Moreover, you can always cut it at home without special tools for more convenient usage.

Do I Do It All by Myself?

For sure, everyone decides for themselves, but we recommend trying installing PEX plumbing with the help of a pro. Many advantages of that system were listed above but note again that except for an easy installation process and color-coding, it also provides the material and labor cheapness. All in all, you will always know how the water supply at your house works, where a potential problem may occur, and how to fix it in the case of the appearance!

Peter, plumber

I bring over 9 years of dedicated plumbing experience to the table. As a seasoned professional in the plumbing industry, I've tackled a wide range of projects, from residential repairs to large-scale commercial installations.

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