DIY PEX Plumbing
Written by Todd Fratzel.
Do-It-Yourself PEX Plumbing
PEX is cross-linked polyethylene tubing used for both domestic water supply tubing and hot water heating systems. As you can see in this photo our new home was built with PEX tubing for all the hot and cold domestic water supply lines throughout the house.
PEX water lines offer many benefits compared to copper and CPVC piping systems including; better freeze protection, flexible piping allows easier installation, able to withstand high and low temperature extremes, highly resistant to plumbing system chemicals, much quieter compared to rigid piping systems and they are easier and cheaper to install.
Because PEX water supply systems use mechanical connections instead of soldering they are much easier to install for the average DIY or home improvement type of person. Many towns, cities and counties require plumbing systems to be installed by licensed plumbers, however, if your area allows the home owner to do the work you may be able to save some serious money.
How To Install PEX Tubing
Installing PEX water lines is really easy to do, however, you need to be sure you understand all local building codes and general plumbing best practices. If you’re new to plumbing then I recommend you read a good basic plumbing book first like Black & Decker Complete Guide to Plumbing: Expanded 4th Edition – Modern Materials and Current Codes. Once you understand the basic plumbing assumptions for water distribution then you’ll be prepared to install PEX water lines.
PEX water systems are typically installed using a manifold with “home runs” of PEX tubing from each fixture back to the manifold without any fittings. You end up running the PEX much like you wire a house from the breaker panel to each fixture with home runs. Once the PEX is run from each fixture back to the manifold you’ll need to make connections at each location.
Connecting PEX tubing can be done in two approved methods: crimp fittings or outside diameter compression fittings. Crimp fittings are the most widely used and the method I’ll discuss in this article. It’s also extremely important to create clean, square, smooth, bur free cuts to the PEX pipe.
DIY PEX Tools
Crimping Tool – You’ll need a PEX crimping tool like the: PEX Oetiker Crimp Tool. This crimping tool will allow you to crimp PEX in sizes ranging from 3/8″ to 1″.
Ratchet Tubing Cutter – You need a good quality PEX tubing cutter in order to cut clean, smooth cuts. Ratchet style tubing cutters like the Pro-Point Rachet Tubing Cutter are perfect for making great cuts every time.
PEX Crimp Fittings & Pipe
You’ll also need to buy the PEX pipe and associated fittings. The following are some examples of PEX pipe and fittings that you can buy:
3/4″ RED PEX Piping: PEX Tubing – PART# 41283-3/4″ X 100′ COIL BEST PEX RED
1/2″ BLUE PEX Piping: PEX Tubing – PART# 41280-1/2″ X 100′ COIL BEST PEX BLUE
Stainless Steel Clamps: BEST-PEX Clamps for PEX Tubing – PART# 41118-1/2″PEX STAINLESS STEEL CLAMPS and
BEST-PEX Clamps for PEX Tubing – PART# 41119-3/4″PEX STAINLESS STEEL CLAMPS
PEX Manifold: 36 PORT 1/2″ PEX MANABLOC
DIY PEX Plumbing Summary
Just remember that not all jurisdictions will allow you to do your own plumbing. Installing PEX plumbing systems isn’t very hard but you need to do your homework and be sure you understand pipe sizing, access, and code requirements.
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