Working with PEX Piping: Tips and Basics

PEX piping is a cross-linked polyethylene that has become popular for use in hot and cold plumbing installations. The name of this easy to work with pipe has its roots in the manufacturing process at which time the polyethylene molecules become joined together by links that form bridge like structures. This unique design makes for a pipe that is very durable when exposed to chemical attack and temperature extremes.

Tools Required for Cutting:

  • Tubing cutter
  • Fittings
  • Ring crimper
  • crimp rings
  • "Go/No-Go" gauge
  • Crimp ring removal tool

Tips on Cutting PEX

  • Always use the unique tubing cutter that has been designed for use with the PEX piping. All cuts must be straight and burr free. PEX piping that has not been squarely cut will invariably cause a leak hazard.
  • PEX piping, which is available in half and three-quarter inch diameter, has proven to be an excellent choice for hot and cold plumbing applications.
  • Joining is simple and requires the use of copper crimp rings, proper fittings and Go/No-Go gauges.

Running the Tubing

  • PEX piping contracts (one inch per every 100 feet) with each temperature change of 10 degrees and must therefore be installed differently from standard copper or PVC tubing by insuring slack in the piping. The best way to install PEX piping is to create a loop in the tubing in excess of 8 times its diameter to overcome this issue.
  • When you install PEX piping against a joist, support the pipe with straps at 32-inch intervals. PEX piping that is running along the top surface of beams can be secured at 6-foot intervals.
  • Do not secure your PAX piping too tightly as to restrict its movement when using hangers or straps.


  • PEX piping has proven to be resistant to normal chemicals that are water borne or otherwise associated with plumbing installations.
  • PEX piping, compared to copper, steel, and PVC is easy to handle and install.
  • It is easy to join PEX piping. Fittings are added within seconds by crimping metal rings over barbed fittings, which result in a seal that is watertight. You will not require solder, pipe wrenches or glue.
  • PEX piping is available in rolls and can easily be run beneath cement slabs and floors without the need for multiple connections.
  • The properties of PEX piping also make this tubing perfect for placement below ground for use as water service piping.
  • PEX piping is versatile regarding the all-important joining aspect, as more than one joining method can be used.
  • PEX piping is flexible and proven to be strong and is able to handle both extreme hot and cold temperatures, which is a crucially important factor for tubing carrying water.
  • PEX piping will not burst if the water it is carrying freezes, and it is resistant to sweating in environments with high humidity.


  • PEX piping can currently not be utilized outdoors.
  • The unique crimping tool that is required for all joins is considerably expensive to purchase.

Despite the minor disadvantages to using this tubing, PEX piping is highly versatile and well worth considering.