PEX plumbing pipes, also known as cross-linked polyethylene, is tubing that is used for both cold and hot water supply lines. Thanks to its ease of use and flexibility, PEX is gaining popularity in both residential and commercial usage. PEX features various PEX connectors and fittings which is advantageous over other types of plumbing pipes. Unlike CPVC and other plastic tubing, PEX fittings are not solvent- glued but rather, the fittings form mechanical connections.
Most PEX tubing manufacturers provide their own line of fittings following the guidelines of a regulatory agency. As a result, methods of connections vary among production companies. However, there are five types of connection methods, including:
- PEX Crimping method
- PEX cinching method
- Push-to connect method
- Expansion method
- Compression method
Pex Crimp Vs Pex Clamp
Whether you are a DIYer or a professional, you know the importance of using the right tool for your kind of job. Not only does it make work easy and faster, but it also helps in achieving the professional look and avoid future problems. But what happens when you have different tools that are designed to do the same work? This is a similar scenario when it comes to pex clamp tools and pex crimp tools.
Although these tools are used to seal the same kind of pipe fittings, they use different methods in doing so. These two types of techniques are the most common and easily confused by beginners. With a Pex crimp, you seal the connection by crimping the entire ring, but with pex clamp, it is quite different. pex clamps also referred to as pex cinch tool, only pinches the tab on the ring instead of the whole body.
These styles use different tools and different rings to make connections. When it comes to reliability, both crimp and cinch methods create secure seals when properly sealed. Although the choice between crimping and cinching methods comes down to personal preference, there are some cons and pros to consider.
Pros of Pex Crimp Tools
· Seal- A pex crimp tool creates a secure and long-lasting connection by crimping the whole ring. No worrying about leaking seals even in freezing pipes.
· Tool sizes- Crimp tools come in a variety of sizes. Ensure that you get right the size of the piping for your project. What is more, is that these devices feature interchangeable jaws to enable usage on the piping of different sizes.
· Ease of use- Using pex crimp tools does not require any special skills. It also comes with ease of use and flexibility. With their range of sizes, they work in both small and large spaces. Therefore, you can easily find the right option for your workload. The Go/No Go gauge tool also ensures that the connections are properly sealed.
· Durability- Pex crimp tools use copper crimp rings. Copper material is more prone to corrosion than the stainless steel, thus making the seal less durable.
· Versatility- The crimp devices come in specific sizes. This means that a single tool cannot handle piping of various sizes. Therefore, you will need to purchase other tools with different sizing.
Pros of Pex Clamps
· Materials- The pex clamp tools accommodate both copper and stainless rings. This makes it versatile in its usage. The stainless material is more effective due to its non-corrosive nature. They can withstand freezing water effects and are perfect for direct- burial applications.
· Usability- Clamp tools have a ratcheting feature that shows if connections are successful. Also, because the cinch ring is compressed at a single tab, it is easy to remove.
· Flexibility- With clamps, you won’t need any additional cinching tools. You can use a single tool for all your workload since it accommodates pipe fittings of all sizes. Besides, these tools are flexible enough to be used in tight spaces because they require less pressure to use.
· Availability- While the initial purchase price of lamp tools is affordable, finding cinch components is more challenging and expensive.
· Some users also find the seal unreliable since one part of the ring is cinched. The clamps further require expertise, making them unsuitable for beginners.
Pex Crimp Vs Expansion
High-end plumbers use expansion technology to seal cross-linked polyethylene pipes. This method ensures high performance and durable, watertight connections. With this style, the user uses an expansion ring and a fitting with a large internal diameter to create a seal. Besides, PEX expansion follows the ASTM F1960 specifications. Expansion fittings are usually made from poly-alloy or brass.
The method expansion fittings feature outer plastic sleeves that fit over pipe tubing. With the help of a specially designed tool, the sleeve and tubing are temporarily stretched and expanded to allow insertion of the fitting. From there, the tool is removed, and the PEX tubing shrinks back, making a tight connection with the fitting. This style of pex installation requires expertise and practice to master. It is common in two proprietary systems including:
· The Uponor ProPEX system- It involves components that conform to ASTM F1960 standards. The components are PEX sleeves, expansion fittings and expander tool.
· The Rehau RauPEX system- The fittings follow ASTM F2080 standards. They include brass sleeves, expansion fittings, a compression tool and a particular expander device.
Keep in mind that the expansion method does not accommodate any other types of tubing except PEX-A tubing.
Advantages of the Expansion Method
· The expansion system is fast, easy to learn and install.
· It provides quality performance and excellent flow in all pressure areas.
· With expansion style, you don’t need the Go/No Go gauge tool. The seal is leak-proof as long as both the ring and end of the pipe are touching the fitting,
· You can find expansion tools in both automatic and manual versions. The automatic models come with auto-rotation, thus ensuring there are no deep grooves to cause leakage.
· The expansion method is perfect for installing PEX fitting system in soil, concrete and even behind walls.
· Due to the strong connection of the expansion system, it is difficult to rectify a mistake. You will have to cut off the entire connection and start the installation process all over.
· It is challenging to make a connection in cold weather like below 40 degrees F. use a heat gun to warm up the ring and pipe for a secure seal.
· The product is considered of more professional quality, which makes it only available in professional plumbing supply distributors. As a homeowner or a DIYer, you may not find it in your local stores.
· The tool uses different head sizes for various pipe sizes. This aspect makes the expansion style more expensive.
PEX compression vs crimp
PEX compression method is quite similar to copper or plastic compression fittings. This system consists of a compression ring, compression nut and compression insert. When it comes to making a compression connection, the process is straightforward. Begin by place the compression insert in the end of the tubing. Proceed to slide the ring over the tubing and tighten it using a nut. This process creates a secure connection.
The compression method is popular among contractors and homeowners. This is because the fittings are easy to install and disassemble. The style is preferable when dealing with multiple connection areas. When comparing Pex crimping vs expansion, the latter is more expensive.
The compression model requires a level of finesse and experience. The user should also have many chances to practice to master it. This means that it is unsuitable for beginners and DIYers, unlike the crimping method. Furthermore, if you want a faster method, crimp model is a better option. In the crimping method, you only slide a crimp ring on the tubing and tighten to get a needed fit. It typically requires little skill.
For convenience, compression fitting is more suitable. It eliminates the need for any specialized tool in making a reliable seal. Although the crimp model requires specific tools and components to function, they are cost-effective and proven to make lasting leak-proof connections. I bet you want something that you can use without needing fire or glue. More so, with the compression system, you can easily remove them and reuse the components with no hassle. Did you know that you can also use them with existing cpvc or copper tubing? Yes, you heard right. The flexibility of the compression method is very impressive.
PEX based water system is becoming a household name among contractors and plumbers due to it is cost-effective, flexible and readily available. However, the efficiency of the PEX tubing depends on how the pipes are sealed. The most common methods of PEX connections are crimping method and cinching, also known as the clamp method. Other expensive yet reliable styles include expansion, compression and push-fit methods.
Although these techniques are different, they serve the same purpose. They create strong and durable watertight connections. Besides, they have pros and cons to consider before choosing one you prefer. The type of your project should be your number one priority when getting the right sealing tools. Crimp method is the popular choice among all the styles discussed above due to its versatility, affordability and durability. Furthermore, crimp tools are easy to use, making them suitable for both homeowners and experts.