We all know that PEX tubes have been one of the top choices for radiant heating purposes and plumbing systems for many reasons.
These tubes are super-durable, versatile, and flexible, they also provide superior performance, making them an increasingly popular choice.
These tubes are both sustainable and more cost-effective as not only are they more long-lasting, but also require fewer fittings during installation due to their ability to bend.
But the bending needs to be done right without over-working these tubes in order to make the best of such PEX tubes. Hence, let’s check out all the ways of how to bend PEX pipe flawlessly like a pro!
How To Bend PEX Pipe In Different Ways
1. Bend PEX With Heat and Using Internal Springs
These are simply springs composed of metal or stainless steel which are super-flexible and possess high resistance to heat.
It works quite simple as all you have to do is insert them inside the PEX tubing and once you’re done bending, they can be pulled out easily from the other end.
When choosing a spring for this method of bending, ensure that the diameter of the spring is flexibly smaller than the internal diameter of your PEX tube.
This will ensure that the spring can easily slide in and out without roughening up the pipe internally. It will also prevent the pipe from getting dented when you heat and bend your target PEX area.
- As usual, start by marking the area of the PEX tube where you intend to make the bend.
- Insert the spring through one end of the pipe and thread it in until your pipe’s bending point coincides with the middle of the metal spring. Make sure to leave a length of the spring hanging outside the pipe for easy removal.
- For deeper areas of the pipe, the spring will need to go all the way in. so you can tie a piece of a long thread on one end of the string for easy removal. Use a rod or stick to push the spring into deeper lengths of the pipe.
- Now that the spring is smoothly in, it’s time to heat up your target area. You can do so either by soaking the target PEX area in hot water or use a hairdryer or heat gun in the lowest setting at a safe distance.
- Then, move on to bending the pipe to your required angle carefully. Don’t bend any less than 90 degrees as or else the pipe will get kinked or water flow will be affected. The bend should be slightly rounded for seamless water flow.
- Once you have reached your desired bend, it’s time to cool down the pipe so that the bent shape sets using cold water. Simply dunk the pipe in cold water.
- All that’s left to do now is to remove the spring out of the pipe by gently pulling it out and you’re all set!
2. Bend PEX Pipe Without Heat?
Just using Bend Supports, Support Clamps, and 90-Degree Elbows
A. Using Bend Supports
As the name suggests, these are pieces of metal or plastic supports that enable PEX pipes to bend and remain bent at angles of 90 degrees or higher.
When purchasing them, you need to match their size according to the diameter of your PEX pipes so that you can easily slip the pipe inside the support without crimping or kinking the tubing.
Plastic bend supports are easier to attach to these pipes as they are softer in comparison to metals and hence are not as rough on the tubing. But metal ones tend to be more durable.
- Map out the path of your PEX tubing and mark both on the PEX and the area where you intend to create the bend in the pipe.
- Ensure that the length of the PEX pipe is longer as the bend will shorten it. The excess length ensures your PEX path doesn’t get shortened and you can loosely bend the pipe without affecting water flow.
- Now, following the target mark on your PEX, insert the pipe through one end of the bending support.
- Next, bend the pipe to fit it in the space of the bend support piece.
- PEX usually bends easily but if for some reason it seems a little stubborn, don’t force it to bend as the pipe might get crimped. You may use a hairdryer or heat gun at the lowest temperature to ease the pipe into bending within the bend support. But that’s not necessary in most cases.
- All that’s left to do now is to simply insert the pipe through the other end of the bend support and you’re done!
B. Using Support Clamps
This is by far one of the simplest ways of bending PEX pipes without requiring heat. It is a great option for lightly bending PEX tubes without much hassle.
Support clamps are the most ideal option when making large-angle bends and when you’re putting up the pipes over a surface that can be nailed in to attach the clamps.
As usual, plastic clamps win over metal ones when being used with PEX. Try choosing plastic support clamps designed for PEX and match the diameter with your PEX tubing’s diameter for the correct fit.
- For this method of PEX bending, start by marking the pathway of your PEX tubing on your target surface.
- Place your PEX on the surface and screw on the first support clamp. Ensure proper screw size and don’t over-tighten the screws in order to prevent the clamps from getting damaged.
- Now, gradually keep bending your pipe and keep attaching support clamps where you intend to retain the bend.
- Try to use as few clamps as possible if working on an area that will be visually exposed as too many clamps aren’t visually pleasing. Otherwise, that’s about it.
C. Using 90-Degree Elbows
Though this method doesn’t involve bending a single piece of PEX, it is a great method to achieve bending without bending your PEX with the aid of two straight tubes.
Metal elbow connectors are quite expensive, but they don’t exert any pressure on your pipes due to having them bent. All you have to do is basically attach the end of one tube through one end of the elbow, and the one end of the other PEX through the other end of the elbow.
When purchasing the elbows, you need to ensure that the diameter of the elbow is large enough to take in the diameter of the tubing. You’ll also need to look into the depth chart of your PEX brand to determine the depth of insertion necessary.
Start by marking the depth on the pipe and insert the tubes firmly with a single push until you reach the stop mark on your pipe. Before inserting the pipes, ensure that the ends of the pipes are square-cut, as in evenly, with no rough surfaces.
Tips & Tricks on Bending PEX Pipe
- If your PEX gets kinked (folded), you can use a heat gun at its lowest temperature to revert or unfold it. If the kink is near one of the ends of the tube and heating doesn’t fix it, you can always cut it off.
- When using a heat gun or hairdryer, set it at the lowest temperature possible and apply heat from a distance.
- Keep open flames away from PEX pipes at all costs as these pipes have a high flame spreading rate.
- Don’t overheat your PEX pipes while bending them as they’ll get too thin or might get deformed or crimped. The maximum temperature these pipes can endure is up to 200⁰F.
- Don’t try using hot sand or salt inside PEX tubes to bend them as you won’t be able to clean them all out and it will contaminate your water.
- When bending PEX tubes with heat, do so with patience gradually as while warmer, these pipes are more malleable. Working them too fast at that temperature may cause them to tear.
- The maximum sharpness of bends that PEX tubes can handle is 90 degrees. Hence, don’t bend them any less than 90 degrees.
- Another ideal measure of the tightest bend PEX tubing can withstand is a radius that is six times larger than the radius of the tubing itself.
As we just saw, PEX pipes are flexible enough to be bent, a feature possessed, unlike any other pipes.
When done right, this reduces the amount of work you need to do to build your plumbing or heating system, while reducing costs of extra fittings.
So now that we walked you through all the ways of how to bend PEX pipe in the correct manner, you can get them to work in any shape and angle you desire!