Cross-linked polyethylene pipe, or PEX, has made a big difference in the world of plumbing. Flexible tubing is easier to install and is durable compared to metals that can corrode. With PEX A pipe, you can install expandable PEX pipe fittings using the right tool and don’t need a plumbing license.
PEX A is popular for its high degree of flexibility and ability to shrink back to size. Its “memory” is so good it can form a tight seal around fittings using cold-expansion connections. Other ways include using a crimp ring, push-fit connection, or twist-and-lock pipe, but expandable fittings are widely considered the most versatile way to form pipe joints.
To make a secure connection, use these tips to work with expandable PEX pipe fittings:
Match the Fitting with the Pipe Size
You can find the pipe size printed on the side of the PEX pipe. For residential applications, it comes in 3/8”, ½”, 5/8”, ¾”, and 1” sizes. A ½” pipe, for example, requires a fitting of the same size. Also, the proper-sized PEX-reinforcing ring will need to be fit over the end of the pipe.
*There’s a stop on most rings, so they can’t be fed too far. If not, just leave a small space at the end before proceeding.
Properly Set Up the Tool
An expander tool is operated similarly to a drill. But before you start, grease the tool head to ensure smooth expansion and place an expander head corresponding to the size of the tube onto the expander head. Proper care is important here because the teeth on the tool can damage the tubing from the inside, and it can cause significant stress on the expanded pipe. A failure at the connection point can result.
Expanding the Pipe
When you’re ready to expand the end of the tube, insert the tool head and press the trigger. Each time you press the trigger is one expansion. The size of the tubing determines the average number of expansions needed. Tubing is less flexible in colder temperatures, so therefore more expansions are necessary.
Remove the tool quickly after expansion and immediately insert the fitting. Make sure it’s inserted down to the collar. A secure connection is formed as the tubing shrinks back to its original size, forming a tight seal around the fitting.
Also, remember to:
- Pump and turn if using a hand pump expander, and keep turning the expander as you go. This will ensure the connection expands evenly.
- Keep the trigger depressed as the ring bottoms out; count 3 to 6 more expansions so there’s enough time to connect the fitting.
- Try to use fewer expansions in cooler temperatures; otherwise, you’ll have to hold the PEX on the fitting for longer. More expansions may be needed in warm temperatures as the tube returns to its original shape faster.
Avoid Common Problems
Every PEX pipe has a maximum bend radius. Bend it too much, which can happen with improper installation, and the pipe wall will be stressed. This can accelerate oxidative degeneration. In addition, verify the quality of the pipe before installation. A PEX pipe can last over 50 years unless it is defective.
Also follow these tips:
- Test Water Quality: Water quality can affect the longevity of the pipe. Leaching of zinc from brass alloys and the presence of highly chlorinated water can reduce the pipe’s service life.
- Pressure Testing: Test the pressure of the system to ensure the PEX pipe will hold up. Excessive pressure can cause leaks that require removing floors, walls, and fixtures as well as other expensive repairs.
- Tool Calibration: Crimp, clamp, and cinch tools require calibration. However, inserting PEX expandable pipe fittings is visual. When you see the expansion ring touching the shoulder of the fitting, you know that it is properly connected. The connection will strengthen as the PEX contracts.
Contact a Plumber for Re-Piping Services
Whenever you’re installing piping, it’s best to hire a professional plumber. This ensures it’ll be leak free and last longer. You can avoid serious problems and eliminate costly floods and repairs. At Village Plumbing, we’re experienced at installing PEX lines, using the latest installation techniques to work quickly and ensure high-quality results in Houston. To schedule repiping service, submit your request online or call 713-526-1491 today.