Basic Information about PEX


Courtesy of Canarsee Supply

Cross-linked polyethylene or commonly know as PEX is made in many types, varieties, and has many uses in the plumbing industry. PEX tubing has grown to become one of the largest produced materials, due to its sufficient replacement for the need of copper and CPVC. The usage of PEX tubing allows the person to save economically by up to three times as opposed to when using copper. It also attributes for easy hands on installation with its own unique set of tools, and is reinforced for long term durability. PEX is a revolutionary material that is becoming more trended everyday, and here’s how it works.

PEX piping has become a major commodity in today’s plumbing industry. There are three variations of PEX tubing which include non-barrier, oxygen-barrier, and PEX-AL-PEX. Non-barrier PEX is commonly used for plumbing applications, oxygen-barrier PEX is used for the sole purpose of hydronic radiant heating, and PEX-AL-PEX is used for plumbing (non-potable) and radiant heating systems. The PEX tubing is connected to your plumbing or heating system with main lines and branches, through a variety of fittings and expansions such as elbows and rings. These pipes are then set up to either a manifold or securely stationed with clips. PEX comes in three different colors, white for neutral, red for hot, and blue for cold, to help keep track of the lines.

The fittings and expansions for PEX come in a number of assortments. Some of the most common PEX connections are crimp, clamp sharkbite, press, expansion, and compression. All these fitting are used to connect different types of tubing such as copper, CPVC, PB; and PEX to PEX, CPVC, and copper. PEX systems rely on efficiency through properly correlated fitting and pipes.

Getting PEX to work is all about finding the right solution to your system. PEX offers a majority of tools to use for installation. Each tool has its own personal use, and proper usage of these tools is mandatory in the success rate of your system. The most commonly used accessories are Crimp and Clamp tools, which correspond to crimp and clamp rings. The Crimp tool is used to form a 360 degree compression around the crimp ring to ensure that the pipe and fitting are securely tightened to one another. Different crimp rings require corresponding sizes to be attached to the crimp tool to be installed properly. To uninstall the crimp ring, a de-crimper must be used for proper detachment.

The clamp tool takes a different approach, in which a one size fits all mechanism is used. Clamp rings vary according to the size of the pipe, but the clamp tool has the same effect on all rings. It is designed to fit in confined spaces and press down the ear of the clamp, in return apply pressure and reinforcing the ring around the pipe. That same clamp tool can be used to de-clamp the ring by applying pressure to the ear and turning, making the clamp tool an extremely convenient commodity.

In order to detach or cut PEX tubing and accessories special tools are needed as well. All PEX tubing should be cut with either ratchet or economy tool cutters. These cutters are specifically designed to cut PEX, and cutting PEX with any other item is hazardous due to its smooth and reinforced texture. Setting up PEX connections has now become a modern way of plumbing and heating.

Many large distributors today such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards have evolved from selling only copper, CPVC, and PB piping, to selling all the different types of PEX. Companies such as Uponor, Zurn, Sharkbite, Everhot, Watts, Viega, and Nibco are some of the leading brands selling PEX in the United States today. Each brand specializes in its own type of PEX many selling types A, B, C, or even PEX-Al-PEX. The only thing that really matters is that the consumer is aware what they are purchasing and how to install it.

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