These days, you’ve probably noticed that many homeowners and DIY enthusiasts make use of PEX tubing as a replacement for copper and galvanized steel.
The reason why these colorful plastic rolls have been popular since they arrived in the US in the 1980s is because of their properties.
Unlike copper and galvanized steel, these pipes are corrosion and freeze-resistant.
Also, they are cheaper than metal pipes and require less time for installation.
If you want to do some plumbing in the kitchen, this tubing is ideal for preventing leaks and contamination in the water supply. It also eliminates the noise produced when water passes through a metal pipe.
But, there are different types of PEX tubing, so which one will you choose for your project? Read on this guide, and you’ll learn about PEX tube and their uses.
Types of PEX Tubing
PEX tubings are of three types- PEX A, PEX B, and PEX C. The letter beside PEX isn’t used to define the tube’s quality or grade, but its manufacturing process.
Here’s a breakdown of the types.
1. PEX A
PEX A is manufactured using the Engel process. The process involves the addition of peroxide to HDPE and melting it to release free radicals. As a result, the carbon atoms form a cross-link at a very high temperature.
- It has the highest flexibility of all PEX types
- Expansion-style fitting reduces the risk of flow restriction
- Kinks can be eliminated using a heat gun
- Withstands well in extremely cold temperatures because it is more resistant to burst pressure
- Easy to work with
- Most expensive of all PEX types
- Expansion-style fittings require a lot of time to shrink back down in cold environments
- High chance of leaching BPA and other toxic chemicals
2. PEX B
PEX B is manufactured using a moisture-cure method, which means the polymer cures by reacting with moisture.
After the HDPE is extruded into the tube through steam with the help of a silane catalyst, cross-links between the molecules are formed. This method is widely used by many companies around the world.
- It has the highest resistance to chlorine and oxidation of all PEX types
- Cheaper than PEX A
- The absence of an expansion tool makes the joining method faster in both hot and cold environments
- Smaller diameter can lead to increased resistance to flow
- Kinks formed in the pipe cannot be fixed
- Because of its rigidity, PEX B will not withstand extremely cold temperatures
3. PEX C
PEX C is manufactured by exposing the HDPE polymer to an electron beam. As a result of the exposure, existing links are broken down to form cross-links. It is the least common method compared to PEX A and PEX B.
- Suitable for short repairs
- Cheapest of all PEX types
- Stiffest of all PEX types
- Most prone to kinking and cracking
- Most difficult to work with
Note: Here is another article for the Top 10 PEX Brand
Which Type Of PEX Tubing Should I Use For My Project?
1. Open Loop Heating Systems
Both PEX A and PEX B are typically used in hot and cold water plumbing and also open loop heating systems. While you can use both types of PEX tubing, PEX B is cheaper, safer, and lasts longer than PEX A.
2. Closed Loop Heating Systems
For closed-loop heating systems, like baseboards and radiant floor heating, any of the three PEX types can be used. It all depends on personal preference.
PEX Fittings List That You May Need for PEX Tubing
Compression fittings are comprised of the body, a nut, and a ferrule. The method involves sliding the nut over the end of the PEX tube, then the ring, and lastly the body.
A Teflon tape can be used on the threads or can be hand tightened using a wrench. This method only works for PEX-AL-PEX tubing.
Crimp connections are made by crimping copper crimp rings with a crimp tool. The crimp tool has an interchangeable head that accommodates fittings of a specific size.
In this method, the copper ring slides over the tube end and a fitting is inserted at the end. After that, the copper ring is pushed over the fitting, then crimped using the crimp tool to secure the ring and the tube in place.
It is an inexpensive way of making a secure connection and is compatible with all three PEX types.
Similar to the crimping method, clamping requires the use of stainless steel rings and a clamp tool. The stainless steel ring slides over the end of the PEX tube, and a fitting is inserted.
The clamping tool is then used to clamp the tab on the ring instead of the entire fitting. Such connections are also easy to make, and they work with all PEX types.
The expansion method involves expansion rings and a special PEX expander tool. With the expander tool, the diameter of the PEX tubing is stretched, and then the fitting is inserted.
The tube then shrinks back down to its original size and tightly secures the fitting. This method is commonly used by contractors because it doesn’t require much manual labor, unlike other tools. It is compatible only with PEX A tubing.
The push method requires a special push-fit fitting that secures the tube once it is slid over it. Although the securing process doesn’t require any special tool, removing the fitting from the end of the tube needs a special ring.
This method is the quickest and easiest way of connecting PEX. It is compatible with all PEX types.
Tips For Using PEX Tubing
- For optimal results, always use the recommended tools for making PEX connections. A good example is- if you try to use pliers for crimping a copper ring, you won’t get the same tightness as you would if you used a crimping tool.
- Do not store PEX outdoors because the tube is susceptible to UV rays.
- Always use a PEX cutter to make clean end cuts. Using this tool will help you work easily.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to one of the three PEX tubing types, make sure to choose the correct fittings for optimal results. You’ll find that the push-fit connections are the easiest to work with as they don’t require any special tools.
As you’ve seen earlier, there are other PEX fitting types- compression fittings, stainless steel clamping, copper crimping, and diameter expanding.
Although these methods are less expensive, they require the use of tools. You need to choose a connection method that works wonders for your project.
Hopefully, you’re now able to distinguish between the types of PEX tubing and their uses. So, keep reading PexPlumbersBlog and please share my article!
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