The world of plumbing has changed a lot over the last 15 years, and PEX pipe is the biggest reason why. Even if you’re not a plumber you might find it interesting. PEX is a flexible, plastic water line system that’s easy to work with, tough and doesn’t even crack when it freezes full of water. But not all PEX plumbing systems are the same, especially when it comes to the connections. ProPEX is my favourite PEX pipe connection system because of the speed, ease and lack of need for compression rings. ProPEX is faster, more reliable and flows water better than anything else I’ve found. Watch and see for yourself. Transcript below so you can follow and study more thoroughly.
00:00 PEX pipe is revolutionizing the plumbing industry because it’s so easy to work with. Over the next few minutes I’m going to show you the fastest way to make watertight connections with PEX pipe, and I’m also going to show you how you can fix kinks in PEX so that it’s almost like they never existed at all.
00:17 The letters P-E-X are an acronym that stands for cross linked polyethylene, and PEX pipe comes in different grades. This stuff here is PEX-A and it’s the highest grade pipe and it’s the kind you need to do the kind of joints that I’m going to show you here.
00:35 There are many ways to complete a connection in PEX pipe, but the one I like the best involves this ring you see here. It slips over the end of the pipe before being expanded so that the fitting can be put in and the pipe closing back down over the fitting.
00:52 The tool that makes all that possible is this here, it’s called a ProPEX expander. As you can see, it’s got jaws on the end that open and close rhythmically while it rotates. This is the tool that stretches the pipe open. It stays open for a few seconds, allowing you to insert the connection, and then the pipe naturally closes down under its own elasticity to complete a very fast, completely solid, and a waterproof connection.
01:22 PEX is easy to cut with these sheers. Just put it in and snip off a piece like this. The ring slips over top. It’s a fairly tight fit. As you can see, when you try to put it in the fitting, there’s just no way it’s going to go in there in its current state.
01:40 This is where the ProPEX expander comes in. You put the jaws of the expander in the end of the pipe and then you turn on the tool. Let it complete three, four, five cycles until it’s fully expanded that pipe. Then you quickly remove the expander and put the fitting in and hold it there for about another four or five seconds. That’s enough time for the PEX to shrink down over the fitting and to lock it permanently in place. It’s solid and watertight in a few minutes. Building inspectors, especially, like this method because they can tell at a glance whether the pipe connections have been completed properly, which is not the case with other forms of connectors that use crimped bands, which can sometimes be left un-crimped accidentally.
02:27 One of the challenges when you’re working with any kind of plastic type pipe is kinking. PEX will bend quite a lot without kinking, but eventually you bend it far enough and a kink will form. The problem with that is that a kinked area greatly reduces waterflow because the sides are restricted in that area.
02:50 When you’re dealing with PEX-A type pipe, you can heat that area with a heat gun and completely eliminate the kinked shape. Let me show you how that works right now.
03:01 Gently heat the kinked area with a heat gun, but make sure you keep it well away from the pipe. You just want to warm the material. You don’t want to overheat it. As you warm the pipe, you’ll find that the kink slowly starts to expand on it’s own.
03:25 You know you’ve heated the pipe sufficiently when it goes from an opaque appearance to almost completely clear.
03:37 When you’ve gotten that far, turn the heat gun off and let the pipe cool completely on its own until the opaque appearance returns.
03:47 The ProPEX expander can be used for a whole bunch of different pipe sizes simply by changing the finger assembly that goes on the end. The only maintenance that this cordless tool requires is periodic greasing of the expansion cone in the middle. If you think about it, that’s the part that slides and opens up the fingers, so it does need to be lubricated.
04:11 This is the smaller of two ProPEX expander tools. It uses a 12 volt lithium ion battery and it’ll handle all typical type sizes you’ll run into. There is a larger 18 volt model, which is faster when you’re dealing exclusively with larger pipes.
04:29 PEX pipe is changing the way people build for the same reason all other innovations are changing the way people build. Like lots of advances in building technology, it relies on different materials and different tools that you’ve got to learn and invest in. But the reality is that you’ll get faster, more efficient, and more reliable results in the end.