Introduction: How to Install PEX (Quick Tips)

Are you afraid to solder copper pipes?

If you've never soldered before it can be intimidating. Plus you can easily catch your house on fire. Today you're going to learn how to install PEX pipe. Now here's the deal, this isn't a general overview. The point is to share some quick tips and get you familiar with PEX...which by the way comes in pretty handy when your wife tells you the kitchen ceiling is leaking water. So let's dive into this tutorial and save you some money!

Here are all the supplies we discuss

  • PEX Crimp Rings (1/2 inch)
  • PEX 90 Degree Elbows (1/2 inch)
  • SharkBite 90 Degree Elbows (1/2 inch)
  • PEX Crimping Tool
  • PEX Pipe Cutter
  • PEX Crimp Ring Cutter
  • SharkBite Depth Tool
  • Sharpie Marker

SharkBites aren't cheap but if you buy the PEX fittings in bulk they're actually competitively priced.

And once you have the PEX crimping tool you're all set to begin your plumbing setup. One warning: make sure your local plumbing code allows PEX. Some places don't. And you'll have to use copper. So call the local building inspector and ask...use someone else's voice if you're afraid of their response, haha...just kidding.

Step 1: Slide Crimp Ring Onto PEX

You’ve probably seen it in the home store. PEX comes in red, white and blue colors. Red is for hot water lines, blue is for cold water lines and white is neutral, meaning you can use it for either hot or cold.

The colors are more for forgetful folks like me who can’t remember what they were doing 3 seconds ago.

Slide a crimp ring onto the PEX.

Step 2: Slide PEX Fitting Onto PEX

Slide your fitting, in this case a 90 degree elbow, into the PEX.

Step 3: Crimp Crimp Ring

Crimp rings should be 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch from the end of the PEX. This recommendation is per SharkBite who makes these crimp rings.

It might be different for your PEX system so follow the manufacturer directions. Position the PEX crimping tool at 90 degrees over the crimp ring. Then slowly squeeze the crimping tool until you hear it pop and compress the ring.

Step 4: Check Crimp Ring

But how do you know if your crimp ring is tight enough?

The nice thing about the SharkBite system is that it has a gage. If the ‘GO’ slot fits over your crimp ring you know it’s on the PEX correctly. You also want to slide the ‘NO-GO’ slot over the crimp ring, if it doesn’t fit you’re totally good to go.

Step 5: Fixing Messed Up Crimp Rings

I'll be the first to say that I make a lot of mistakes while DIYing. So it's always nice to know how to fix those mistakes.

If your crimp ring is more than 1/4" away from the end of the PEX it's super easy to repair.

Cut the PEX just shy of the PEX fitting.

Slide the removal tool into the PEX.

Squeeze the handle and snap the crimp ring. Place the removal tool 180 degrees on the other side of the crimp ring and snap it again. Although I find that this mostly opens the crimp ring just enough to allow it to slide off the PEX.

Inspect the PEX fitting and make sure it’s okay to use again.

What if you don’t want to use PEX fittings with PEX?
Use SharkBites instead!!

Step 6: Use SharkBite Fittings With PEX

Look, I love PEX but it’s even easier if you use SharkBite fittings.

The one downside is the fact that SharkBites expensive as all heck. I’m talking movie ticket prices. But I LOVE them and SharkBite are great for super tight spaces.

Place the SharkBite depth tool on the PEX and make a mark with your marker.

Slide the SharkBite over the PEX until it meets up with the mark.

Each SharkBite fitting has a plastic insert and this makes the PEX connection solid. Little side note, you can leave the plastic insert in the SharkBite fitting even if you use it with copper. I called SharkBite and asked them about this.
SharkBites will spin 360 degrees around PEX or copper pipes. This is completely normal. So don’t be freaked out.

Step 7: Watch the Step-by-Step Video

Watch my quick video to see extra tips and a funny outtake at the end...my daughters crack me up

Well I hope you liked these PEX quick tips.

This was meant to be a high level overview and teach you the basics of PEX. I truly think you'd love working with it more than copper in some instances.

Down in the comments tell me what you think of PEX and where you'd use it in your house. Thanks as always for reading my tutorials and watching our videos. You make the Home Repair Tutor community a fun place. So always feel free to add your two cents in the comments.

Have a great day and talk to you soon,

Jeff

P.S. If you want to see how I used a combination of PEX and SharkBites to fix a leaky copper pipe check out this Instructable

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Fix-a-Copper-PipeWITHOUT-Soldering/

Comments

author
tjdux made it!(author)2016-06-25

I replaced all the gross metal plumbing in my 90 year old home with PEX. At the exact same time my parents replaced theirs with cpvc and I swear two months later you could still taste the cpvc cement in the water. Mine was quick and easy. I could have rented a crimp tool but I bought one that does 1/2 and 3/4 crimps and it was the perfect choice.

I have had to change a few things due to remodels and I have added stuff here and there and it's so nice to only shut the water off for a matter of minutes and turn it right back on. No cure or dry times just instant ready to go. In fact this weekend I am installing another outdoor frost free hose spicket. Good ible.

One thing worth mentioning is that shark bite brand fittings are not the only or even common where I live crimp fittings. I have used many different brands and they all seem the same.

Second note the slip on shark bites (the crazy expensive ones) are removable and reusable with a special tool.

author
dave5201 made it!(author)2016-06-25

Great tutorial. The only thing I do different is to use the stainless steel "cinch" rings rather than the copper "crimp" rings. The copper is slightly cheaper, but I end up having to replace about one out of four because they did not squeeze properly. I have NEVER had to replace the S/S type.

author
Lorddrake made it!(author)2016-06-24

very well written. keep up the good work.

author
HomeRepairTutor+ made it!(author)2016-06-24

Thanks, hope this was helpful. Bit on the short side but felt it could be a good tutorial

author
mmmelroy made it!(author)2016-06-24

as a person who has had to learn copper soldering while in the crawlspace under a house, i can confirm that pex is much quicker and has a much lower skill level to manage.

But when it comes to doing PEX, if you don't plan on doing this more than once a year, it's much less hassle and energy to use the Sharkbite fittings instead of the PEX crimping tools. They are quite possibly the best thing since sliced bread in terms of plumbing with PEX. only tool required with sharkbite fittings is a sharp knife to cleanly cut the pipe

author
HomeRepairTutor+ made it!(author)2016-06-24

Totally agree with the ease of use for SharkBites. Super easy. Bit expensive. But like you said the crimper can be a cost barrier for some folks. Although it's not terrible at $60 to $70.

author
merideth made it!(author)2016-06-24

This is great! I have been thinking about using PEX for an outdoor water line. (No freezing to worry about in my climate.) You've encouraged me to investigate further. SHARKBITE! :)

author
HomeRepairTutor+ made it!(author)2016-06-24

PEX is great but just make sure you can use it outdoors, you'll want to consult your local plumbing codes :)

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Bio: I love home improvement and enjoy sharing what I know on YouTube and my website Home Repair Tutor. Everything I do is self taught or ... More »
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