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Old 12-02-2007, 11:27 AM   #1
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Confused about Pex


I want to go with Pex for a home remodel (just water lines - not heating) but the more I look into it the more confused I'm getting. Some things I've read say you need an expansion tool while others say just a crimper is needed. I've also seen different types of pex tubing/piping from different manufacturers. What the difference and which is best? Is it true that you have to use tools from the same maker as that of the tubing and fittings? Then there's the "sharkbit" fittings that don't need any crimping. Is there a good book that goes into detail about this subject? I've looked through about 5 "complete plumbing" books and they never have more than a page or two giving an "overview" of it.
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:35 PM   #2
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Confused about Pex


PEX is not really for the DIY, yes it is an easy product to work with, faster to install, etc. The issue that makes it difficult is the PROPER connections to the fittings. Uponor (Wirsbo) uses the expansion tool, first off you need to be a contractor to take there course (Which even a DIY could get through) and purchase the expansion tool (Around $ 400.00). Because they offer a 10 year warranty with the product they want you to take the course and be a licensed plumber. If their tool is not used properly you can damage the pipe and have leaks. Crimp rings are more readily available to the DIY but again the tool it self is over $ 200.00. No course needed, but to do one job around the house are you going to by a $ 200.00 tool? Sharkbite fittings are fast, easy and idiot proof at about 20x the price of a regular copper fitting.

So for the home remodel using old fashioned copper pipe with soldered joints is probably the most economical way to go. If you are uncomfortable soldering you can use Sharkbites on copper pipe.
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Old 12-02-2007, 02:02 PM   #3
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Confused about Pex


Does all pex plumbing require an expansion tool? I had planned on renting a crimper so the expense part is not that much an issue. [They also sell them here at Home Depot for $95 (single size)] Also, the job is actually 3 (2 baths for my neice, one for my sister, and a kitchen island (w/dishwasher) for my brother.
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Old 12-02-2007, 02:17 PM   #4
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Confused about Pex


Only one type of pex requires an expansion tool. The crimp tool is $91 at the plumbing supply. I don't know what it is without a discount though. A 300ft roll of half inch pex costs $90, about the same thing as 60ft of 1/2in copper pipe. I prefer copper over pex but due to the price pex is here to stay.

With soldering you need to get setup with a torch. A Home Depot MAPP gas torch will run you $40 with a tank. A real MAPP gas torch will run you about $120 plus $10 for the tank. A, acytelyne setup will run you $250 for a torch and a couple tips.


You will probably need a torch either way though to solder the copper to pex adapters.

Last edited by Marlin; 12-02-2007 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 12-02-2007, 05:36 PM   #5
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Confused about Pex


Which type pex is it that does not need an expansion tool?

As for soldering, a regular propane torch has always worked fine for me.

I will be retiring in June after 30 years of school teaching and would like to go back into rehabing old houses (buying, fixing and reselling) which I did 25 years ago. This Pex is something that wasn't around here (to my knowledge) back then. I'd like to learn more about it. I don't mind paying $95 for a tool if I'm going to get good use of it.
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Old 12-02-2007, 07:29 PM   #6
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Confused about Pex


As was mentioned earlier I believe Wirsbo is the only type to use the expanding system. Everybody else uses a crimp system, either copper or stainless rings. We have always used the copper but I know several guys that like the stainless because you only need one crimping tool and you can see the ring as you crimp it. I like the mapp gas because it heats a little faster.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:32 AM   #7
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Confused about Pex


I never used anything but the SS crimp rings. I haven't had a problem with them yet. Look at the SS rings used on sprinkler lines, I've found 20 year old lines and the rings still look like new and those are buried outdoors. Inside they should be good much longer than that.

Then again twenty years from now every pex line may have failed and we'll be back to copper. It's still new and not completely proven.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:39 AM   #8
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Confused about Pex


I used and like the copper crimp rings...the tool I use is fitted for both 1/2" and 3/4" and you can find it on sale for less than $100. I would respectfully dis-agree with Chris Johnson with regards to it not being a DIY project. It's not rocket science, and if one sizes their lines correctly, uses common sense when running the lines and making corners, anyone can learn to do it and do it correctly.
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Old 12-04-2007, 05:23 PM   #9
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Confused about Pex


Thanks for all the input. For the time being, until I've had the opportunity to see (up close in person) a house completely plumbed with pex, I think I'll stay with what I know (copper).
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Old 12-05-2007, 07:42 AM   #10
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Confused about Pex


There is really nothing that complicated about Pex.

Once you pick a system, best to stick with one manufacturer. There's regular potable water tubing that is cheaper, and there's more expensive tubing like Pex-al-Pex, Onix, ThermaPEX primarily specced for radiant heat. For regular water supply, stay with regular like AquaPEX.

The ProPEX system uses expansion tool. Its pluses are that since you expand the tube to fit, the fittings are thicker/sturdier, with better flow. Also, since you work the tube before putting it on its fitting, it is more convenient in tight quarters. But then, a little advance planning should preclude the need for crimping in tight quarters.

The crimp system uses copper rings and a crimp tool, usually with interchangeable jaws for every size. The CinchClamp system (most DIY-friendly, IMO) uses stainless clamps. One size tool fits all clamps, there is a positive 'click' when clamp properly locks, and clamp system is easiest to alter - just cut the clamp tab. Even though clamps cost twice more than crimp rings, overall difference is negligible (bag of 100 1/2" clamps $30, bag of 100 1/2" rings $15)

One thing to remember about PEX tools is that while they are costly, their resale value on ebay is almost 100% of retail.

PEX plumbing is generally a 'home run' system. Meaning you want to avoid elbows, tees, and all that - for every fixture, you run a single length of tube between main manifold and fixture stop valve. use bend suports where tube makes a turn. Use nail plates where tube passes through a framing member if closer than 2" to the edge. At fixtures, it is best to install drop ear bend supports. Drop ear elbows are another option, but they usually mean your PEX connection is inside a wall.
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Old 12-05-2007, 05:22 PM   #11
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Confused about Pex


Quote:
Originally Posted by scorrpio View Post
PEX plumbing is generally a 'home run' system. Meaning you want to avoid elbows, tees, and all that - for every fixture, you run a single length of tube between main manifold and fixture stop valve. use bend suports where tube makes a turn. Use nail plates where tube passes through a framing member if closer than 2" to the edge. At fixtures, it is best to install drop ear bend supports. Drop ear elbows are another option, but they usually mean your PEX connection is inside a wall.
That's not true. If you counted every house plumbed with pex I bet you would be surprised how few used the "home run" system. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using fittings and proper sizes. I like doing that much better then having five different lines running to each bathroom or even two dedicated lines to each bathroom. The thing to remember is pex is a smaller ID then copper. So half inch pex doesn't deliver as much water as half inch copper. Size your lines accordingly.
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Old 12-05-2007, 05:38 PM   #12
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Confused about Pex


My rule of thumb is 3/4" mains to everywhere then branch off with 1/2" for a maximum of 5'. Try and purchase 3/4" shower valves when possible.
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Old 12-05-2007, 06:02 PM   #13
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Confused about Pex


So you run one 3/4" line and then at the bathroom branch off to the toilet, sink, shower/tub? Thanks
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Old 12-05-2007, 06:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ponch37300 View Post
So you run one 3/4" line and then at the bathroom branch off to the toilet, sink, shower/tub? Thanks

Yep, 3/4x3/4x1/2 T fitting
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:31 PM   #15
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Confused about Pex


[From an obvious non-plumber] Should 1/2" pex be used at all if elbows & other fittings are used? Since the ID of 1/2" pex is smaller than 1/2" copper, and the fitting is inserted into the 1/2" pex creating a passage even smaller yet, how much water volume and pressure is reaching the destination? Wouldn't 3/4" be better right to the fixture (especially showers)?
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