Common Questions about PEX and Why It’s Awesome
Why is it important to understand common questions about PEX? From a plumbing standpoint, many professional plumbers would agree that PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is one of the biggest things to hit the plumbing industry since the toilet was introduced. So if it is that awesome (so to speak) you have to know exactly why, right?
Is It Better Than Copper and CPVC?
For many years, and until today, copper has been considered one of the best plumbing materials available because of the distinct advantages that it presents. But how does PEX measure up to this material?
For starters, PEX is significantly cheaper. As a comparison, a half-inch of PEX tubing will only cost you about a third of what you have to pay for when using copper. This is great if you have to deal with medium to large scale plumbing work. However, if you are doing some small scale remodeling, you may find out that the savings will not be as significant because of the need for special tools to do the installation.
Installation-wise, PEX is also faster to install and comparatively easy. This is especially true when you consider that the connections are faster and easier to do than soldering copper piping. Just like copper, you don’t have to worry about corrosion. If your area is prone to acidic water, it can affect copper pipes but not PEX.
With CPVC, cost-wise, there is negligible difference. Installation-wise though, PEX does not need gluing and can be installed even in spaces where there is little ventilation. Unlike CPVC, PEX will not burst if the pipe freezes and is more flexible regardless of length; making it a wise choice when doing plumbing remodeling.
What Special Tools Are Needed?
Majority of the jobs using PEX require special tools to complete the connections considering the various connection methods that can be used. In terms of affordability, the most practical and commonly used are cinch clams and crimp rings.
The cinch clamps are slipped over the tab and squeezed until the clamp is tight enough. The tool can cost anywhere from $40 and up and can work on different sizes of cinch clamps. Crimp rings are bands of metal made usually from copper. It is slipped over the fitting and compressed using the crimp ring tool. Unlike the cinch clamp tool, the one for crimp rings do not work on all sizes of fittings. There is a universal crimp ring tool available, but it will set you back $100 at the very least.
Aside from these tools you will also need a tubing cutter, which looks like an ordinary scissors for tubing but is made specifically to handle PEX material.
Can PEX Be Spliced Into Existing Pipes?
If you want to splice PEX the fastest way is to cut a section of the pipe and slip a stab-in tee fitting. When you use this splicing solution you do away with the need to solder the connections. This translates to huge savings in time as well as money. The important thing to remember with this connection solution is that you have to make sure that it does not violate any plumbing codes when you plan to install the connection behind a wall or the ceiling. There are certain localities that do not allow concealed stab-in fittings to be installed.
An alternate solution is to use a tee and solder it to PEX adapter. The PEX tubing will be slipped over the adapter before it is attached to your chosen location. A stab-in tee can also be used if you want to make a PEX connection to a CPVC pipe. Make sure to check the label to establish compatibility of the fittings.
These are just some of the common questions associated with PEX. If you find these a bit complicated, the best way is to consult a licensed plumbing specialist like Scott English Plumbing and they can provide you with the proper solution. Call them today!