Four Tips to Prevent Common PEX Tubing Problems

06/21/2016 0 Comment(s)

PEX tubing is easier and faster to install than most other types of plumbing pipe, which makes it a popular choice for beginning plumbers. However, if PEX pipe is incorrectly installed, leaks, kinks, and other common challenges can easily occur. To avoid these potential problems, be sure to follow these four tips when installing PEX pipe.

1. Only install PEX when temperatures are above freezing to avoid leaks.

While PEX tubing withstands cold temperatures better than other types of pipes, the temperature must be above freezing while it's being installed. Installing PEX tubing during below-freezing temperatures will lead to faulty connections that will leak and need to be replaced. If you must install PEX in cold weather, it's important to warm the ends of the pipe before making any connections. Try heating the ends of the pipe with a heat gun until they are slightly warm to the touch, and then quickly use the crimping tool to create the connection. Never heat the pipe above 200 degrees Fahrenheit prior to making any connections.

2. Use suspension clips to protect PEX pipes from friction damage.

suspension clips for pex piping

Types of PEX Tubing Suspension Clips from Rifeng, Everhot and Sioux Chief

Like other pipes, PEX tubing expands and contracts in response to temperature changes. Over time, these small movements can wear away the outer surface of the pipe and create leaks. To stop this problem before it occurs, use plastic suspension clips to cover the pipe where it passes through holes in metal or wood studs. You can also use foam pipe insulation to protect PEX tubing that runs parallel to a stud or joist.

3. Install nail protection plates to prevent accidental PEX pipe punctures.

nail protection for pex
Good example of usage Stud Guard Steel Plates for nail, drill protection of PEX water lines.

If your PEX pipe is less than 1 ½ inches from the edge of a joist or stud, you must install nail protection plates along the face of the structural members. Nail protection plates, also called nail stoppers, are rectangular pieces of metal that are attached to the face of a joist or stud. When a structural member is covered with plywood or drywall, the nail stopper prevents any screws or nails from accidentally piercing the pipe within the wall.

4. Use bend supports to prevent kinks when making tight turns.

plastic and metal bend support for pex tubing
Bend support for PEX tubing made from plastic and metal.

Most kinks in PEX tubing occur when an inexperienced plumber tries to make a tight turn. While kinks in PEX tubing can be repaired, you can avoid this common problem by using a elbow to create any 90 degree angles. Both metal and plastic elbows are available, and they attach to the PEX pipe using the same connection method used to attach the pipe to a fixture. For wider turns, consider using a plastic PEX support piece that will gently guide the tubing around the curve and prevent kinks.