Today, with the help of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipe, plumbing work has becomemore efficient for professionals and much more accessible for do-it-yourselfers. These flexible red and blue pipes can bend in nearly any direction to funnel hot and cold water, respectively, where it needs to go.
In fact, if your home is equipped with awater supply manifold—not all homes are—individual PEX pipes can be directly connected to the manifold and then fished through the walls all the way to a sink, tub, or shower to supply hotand cold water. “Threading PEX through a wall will take much less tearing apart of that wall compared to other pipes,” says Daniel O’Brian, technical expert for the online plumbing retailer SupplyHouse.com.
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Not only easy to manipulate, PEX pipe is also easy to connectto existing water lines in the house for repairs or new installations. Are you already working with copper or PVC pipe? Thanks to a wide range of PEX components that make connecting the pipes a snap, you, too, can do your own plumbing.
If you want to add new PEX to your existing water lines, keep reading. We’ll let you know which fittings and tools you’ll need and how they’re used to make the connections.
Choose and Attach a Threaded Fitting
A variety of threaded fittings are available in the options listed below for connecting PEX pipe to copper or PVC pipes. Typically, these come in two parts, often sold separately. Half attaches to the PEX pipe, and the other half attaches to the existing pipe, either copper or PVC.Thread the two halves together and, voilà,you have a watertight connection.
When you attach the second half to copper or PVC, some fittings will require wielding a torch or applying glue in a well-ventilated area (more on that in the next sections below). But PEX connections don’t always need to be so complicated. Certain types of fittings involve neither flames nor fumes—not even special tools—and this ease of use makes for “a safer job if you don’t have the experience and equipment a pro has,” O’Brian says.
The required tools and level of complication in a PEX installation depend on the type of fitting you purchase, so you should understand your options firstto make sure thatyou choose hardware you can handle. Start by getting acquainted with your options and learning how they connect to PEX.
- Expansion fittings (like these from BlueFinand these from Uponor) insert snugly into the PEX pipe with a little help. Use a PEX expander tool to stretch the diameter of the pipe to accommodate the fitting. PEX, which has “memory,” then returns to its original size, creating a watertight seal.
- Crimp fittings (like these from Bluefin) are made by slipping metal rings over the end of the PEX pipe and then inserting the correct fitting into the end of the pipe. APEX crimping tool is then used to tighten the metal ring over the PEX pipe and the fitting.
- Compression fittings (like these from Bluefin) involve sliding a brass nut and a plastic compression ring over the PEX pipe and then inserting a metal sleeve inside the pipe for support (all of these partscan be purchased separately). The fitting is inserted into the PEX pipe and sleeve, and then the nut is tightened to the fitting, squeezing the compression ring to form a tight seal.
- Clamp fittingsmake use of the same fittings as those used in crimp connections, but instead of using a crimpingtool,aratchet clamping toolis necessary for tighteningsteel ringsin place on the PEX side. The ring slips over the PEX pipe, and the fitting is then inserted into the end of the pipe. The ring is positioned over the fitting, and the clamping tool is used to compress a tab on the side of the ring to tighten it.
- Push-fit fittings, including those manufactured by SharkBiteand BlueFin, are the simplest to connect and require neither additional tools nor clamping or crimping to attach the fittingtoeither the PEX pipe oryour copper or PVC pipe. Connection is simple: Insert the PEX pipe into one end of the fitting, and its internal components lock it securely in place. This convenience, however, comes at a price. SharkBite fittings are more expensive than most of the others listed here, but they also spare you from having to buy specialty tools if you’re making only a few connections.
Connect New PEX to Existing Copper Pipe
No matter which fitting you choose, there are only two basic methods for connectingPEX to copper pipe. Traditional copper connections require soldering or “sweating,” while newer, more innovative options like SharkBite fittings connect to copper without anyspecial tools.
THREADED SWEAT CONNECTIONS
For threaded connections, you will always have two separate fittings, one for each pipe you’re connecting and then eventually twisting together. The traditional way of connecting PEX to copper involves using a threaded sweat adapteron the copper side (to connect with the PEX fitting) and soldering to create a watertight seal. Both the copper pipe andits fitting are first cleaned with a fine-bristle steel brush and then coated with flux (like this flux paste from Utility) to help the solder adhere evenly.Then, the seam where the fitting meets the copper pipe is heated with a flame torch. Once the metal is very hot, a small rod of solder—lead-freeif these pipes will carry drinking water—is touched to the seam. The heat from the metal melts the solder and draws it into the seam, where it cools and creates a seal.
Then,a threaded PEX fitting is attached to the PEX pipe using the methods outlined in the section above. You can even finda threaded SharkBite fittingwith push-fit technology on the PEX side that features a threaded end for twisting onto the threaded end of a threaded copper fitting. Once both fittings are connected to the pipes, twist them together to form a seal. (Though, if you’re already using push-fit fittings, the simplest approach is to just use the SharkBite fittingon both pipes you’re connecting, which we’ll get into next.) Just keep these considerations in mind:
- Every connection must have one male fitting and one female fitting in order for the two fittings to attach.(A male fitting features protruding threads which twist into the threaded opening of a female fitting.)
- The sizes of the threaded ends must match in order for the PEX fittingto twist onto the copper pipe fitting.
- You can connect pipes of different sizes as long as the threaded ends are the same size. Threaded fittings are labeled by the sizes of both ends, meaning a ½” X ½” fitting will connect two ½” pipes while a ½” X 3/8″ fitting (also called a “reducer” fitting) is required to connect a ½” pipe to a 3/8″ pipe.
- Use the sweat method of connecting only if you’re familiar with soldering copper, and before you get started check with your local building authority for additional regulations (such as the need for inspections). If you’re not comfortable with soldering, proceed with the following method.
SHARKBITE PEX-TO-COPPER CONNECTIONS
If you don’t want to bother with soldering, opt fora SharkBite fitting. As described above, this fitting can accommodate a copper pipe on one side and a PEX pipe on the other.Just as the PEX pipe is pushed into the PEX end of the fitting, the copper pipe is pushed into the other end. That’s it! Thanks to the push-fit mechanism of the fitting, you’ve made a watertight connection.
Connect PEX to PVC Pipe
Homes that have PVC water lines can also easily utilize PEX tubing for extensions or replacements. When choosing fittings, double-check the sizes to ensure that you’re buying the right size for the diameter of your pipes.
First, always choose a threaded male plastic fittingfor the existing PVC pipe to pair with the metal female fittingfor the PEX pipe. The reverse—a metal malefitting connected to a plastic female fitting—can strip the threads on or even cracka plastic female fitting, whereas a metal female fitting canhandle the superior strength of the metalmale fitting.)
The fitting attaches using the standard PVC connection method, which includes brushing PVC primer (like this primer by Hercules) on both the fitting and the pipe to clean and slightly soften the PVC. The glue used for connecting PVC fittings (also by Hercules) is then applied to the end of the pipe and to the inside of the fitting before it’s slippedover the end of the PVC pipe.
Install a matching threaded metal female fitting on the end of the PEX pipe, using any one of the first four PEX connection methods listed above. Be sure to buy the right type of fitting for the connection method you’re using: A crimped fitting is slightly different from an expansion fitting, so choose carefully.
Once the adapter fittings are secured to the ends of both pipes, wrap a little plumber’s tape on the end of the threaded male fitting for a watertight seal when you twist the threaded ends of the fittings together.
SHARKBITE PEX-TO-PVC CONNECTIONS
While you won’t go wrong using the threaded connection method above, there’s an even simpler method available: SharkBite recently introduced a PVC transition coupling that is suitable for connecting PEX to PVC. These push-fit connectors work by inserting the cut ends of each pipe into the appropriate end of the coupling. You’ll not only save time by using these push-fit connectors, you’ll also avoid having to use PVC glue to attach a plastic threaded adapter to the PVC pipe.
This article has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
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Can you connect PEX pipe to PVC? ›
And fortunately, connecting PVC to PEX is easy to do. Whether you're looking to repair or expand your plumbing, adding PEX to your existing system is accomplished using a threaded fitting. In general, a fitting comes with one half to attach to existing pipe, and another half that fits on the PEX pipe.Can you connect PVC and copper pipe together? ›
Actually, you can! In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to connect PVC to copper pipes. Along with the detailed procedures, we will also list down the most recommended fittings depending on your needs.How do you connect PEX to PVC underground? ›
Making an Underground PEX to PVC Connection
For the PEX line, use a fitting with female threads. For the PVC line, a socket solvent fitting with male threads should be used. It's easier to accomplish a tighter fitting when the male end has plastic threads and the female fitting has metal threads.
SharkBite Push-to-connect PVC transition fittings are the fastest way to transition from PVC or IPS (iron pipe size) pipe to PEX, copper, CPVC, PE-RT, or HDPE pipe. No soldering, clamps, unions, glue, or special tools are required.Do SharkBite fittings leak? ›
SharkBite fittings can leak due to one of these reasons: The pipe was not properly deburred prior to installation. The pipe was not properly inserted. The pipe was not squarely cut.Can you connect copper to PEX without soldering? ›
If you don't want to bother with soldering, opt for a SharkBite fitting. As described above, this fitting can accommodate a copper pipe on one side and a PEX pipe on the other. Just as the PEX pipe is pushed into the PEX end of the fitting, the copper pipe is pushed into the other end. That's it!Do SharkBite fittings work on copper and PEX? ›
Identify the pipe material.
SharkBite brass push-to-connect fittings are compatible with PEX, copper, CPVC and HDPE pipe. They come with a PEX stiffener pre-loaded into the fitting for PEX and HDPE, and the stiffener doesn't need to be removed for copper or CPVC applications.
SharkBites work better than plastic quick-connects on copper pipes because the lead-free brass body is rigid like the pipe and has a higher pressure tolerance. If you need to repair or replace copper plumbing in your home, a SharkBite fitting is an excellent choice.Is PEX better than PVC? ›
When a connection to copper or other metal pipes is required, PEX works better than PVC because crosslinked polyethylene won't corrode. - Price. When you compare the material costs of PEX vs PVC, PEX comes out more expensive. (However, balance this factor against the lower labor cost to install PEX.)Are SharkBite fittings OK to use underground? ›
Pros often ask: Can SharkBite push-to-connect fittings be used underground? The answer is yes. All SharkBite fittings are tested and approved for underground use.
What is the best way to connect PEX? ›
The most common connection method used in PEX installation is the “Crimp” method. This process involves sliding a ribbed fitting into the PEX tube and crimping a seal ring around the connection point. These rings are typically made of copper, but may be found in plastic as well as brass.Does PEX need to be sleeved underground? ›
Use sleeving over PEX where it runs through an expansion joint/crack. A b, crack-resistant poly piping is preferred and should cover (sleeve over) the PEX pipe at least 1-1.5ft on both sides of the joint. For 1/2" or 5/8" PEX, 3-4ft long pieces of 1" PEX can be used for sleeving.Will a PVC SharkBite work on copper? ›
If it has a white collar, the fitting works with PVC pipe and is compatible with schedule 40, 80 and 120 PVC. SharkBite couplings with a tan collar are designed to work with CTS pipes like PEX, copper, CPVC, PE-RT or (CTS SDR-9) SDR-9 HDPE tubing.How long do SharkBite fittings last? ›
How long do SharkBite fittings last? SharkBite fittings last a long time. In fact, SharkBite warrants the fittings for 25 years when used with SharkBite tubing.Should I use plumbers tape with SharkBite fittings? ›
Teflon tape should be used with threaded SharkBite connectors to make a proper seal. SharkBite Universal fittings should not be installed (threaded or push-to-connect) on galvanized tubing.Is SharkBite good for hot water? ›
All SharkBite hot water heater connectors are approved for use on electric and gas water heaters with a flu vent.Do you sand copper for SharkBite? ›
Do not sand the copper pipe – while it's the easiest way to smooth out the edge of the pipe, this practice should be avoided whenever possible since it disrupts the otherwise even pipe surface and may compromise the seal.Are compression fittings as good as solder? ›
Compression fittings are not nearly as robust as soldered fittings making them much more sensitive to powerful stresses. They are not ideal for applications where they could be potentially exposed to lots of flexing, bending and excessive vibration or tube movement.Is there an alternative to soldering copper pipe? ›
Copper press fitting is a flameless alternative to soldering copper pipe connections. In this system, a hydraulic tool is used to press specially designed connectors to join traditional pipes. These connectors house a sealing element that, when pressed, creates an even and reliable connection.Where is PEX not allowed? ›
PEX cannot be taken anywhere outside the house where it is directly exposed to UV for a long period. The synthetic material of the pipes can slowly disintegrate due to the light of the sun. Even light bulbs have been known to affect the lifespan of PEX water lines.
Are shark bites up to code? ›
Approved by the Uniform Plumbing Code, International Plumbing Code, and National Plumbing Code of Canada, properly installed SharkBite fittings offer permanent connections, says Product Manager Michael Kornegay.Is PEX crimping better than SharkBite? ›
The other issues to me are secondary: Crimp is better for cost, Shark bite for convenience. If they both provide the same leakproofness, then I would probably choose sharkbite due to ease of install, reusability and no tool needed.How deep does PEX go into SharkBite? ›
3/4 in.Is SharkBite PEX type A or b? ›
SharkBite non oxygen barrier pipe is manufacture as PEX-B and SharkBite oxygen barrier pipe is manufactured as PEX-C.Is it worth it to replace copper pipes with PEX? ›
Coupled with low production and shipping costs, the savings resulting from installing PEX instead of copper pipes can be significant. Better Energy Efficiency – PEX has a lower thermal conductivity rate than copper. As a result, PEX pipes can help keep hot water hotter for longer periods of time.How far do you push on a SharkBite? ›
Push the pipe firmly with a slight twisting action until it reaches the tube stop. To ensure that the pipe is correctly inserted, check that the depth mark is within 0.005 in (0.13 mm) of the end of the release collar.Is soldering better than SharkBite? ›
These groups of home owners feel SharkBite fittings are just as strong as soldering. A few of the criticisms of SharkBite and other push-fit fittings consist of; initially, push-fit fittings do not have the trustworthiness that soldering has. Soldering has actually been around much longer than push-fit fittings.Can I use SharkBite for shower? ›
Overview. Innovative push-to-connect fittings makes for quick and easy shower and tub installation. Fittings are compatible with PEX, copper, CPVC and PE-RT pipe. No special tools, crimping, glue or soldering is needed.What is a disadvantage of PEX? ›
The biggest disadvantage to PEX is that it is unknown how well or long it will last. While PEX piping is warrantied for up to 25 years, it is unknown what could happen to PEX piping as the years go on. Since it is so new, it is hard to know what water will do to the plastic over 30 years.Do plumbers prefer PEX or copper? ›
Though copper and other plastic pipes have been around for decades, PEX — cross-linked polyethylene — has offered a more reliable plumbing solution in the U.S. for over 35 years.
What is the lifespan of PEX? ›
In most cases, PEX is extremely durable and lasts up to 50 years or more. PEX piping is also less likely to crack or break than metal pipe because it does not expand and contract as much when heated and cooled.What can I use to connect copper to PVC? ›
SharkBite Push-to-connect PVC transition fittings are the fastest way to transition from PVC or IPS (iron pipe size) pipe to PEX, copper, CPVC, PE-RT, or HDPE pipe. No soldering, clamps, unions, glue, or special tools are required.Can I use push fittings with copper pipe? ›
Originally developed to be used with plastic pipe systems, push-fit joints are a good way of joining copper pipes too (although they can't be used with stainless steel or chrome-plated copper pipe). It's important that your pipe ends are cut cleanly, so make sure you use a pipe cutter rather than a hacksaw.Can you use a compression fitting on PEX? ›
Compression fittings can be used with smaller-size PEX and other non-rigid polyethylene tubing (i.e. LLDPE), provided that: 1. Only plastic sleeves/rings (such as Delrin/POM) are used.Why do they say not to use SharkBite? ›
Another possible disadvantage to using SharkBite fittings is that many plumbers feel that these fittings simply aren't strong enough to create a tough, durable connection. Although there's no evidence to substantiate that believe, those plumbers simply trust soldering for their permanent plumbing projects.Why is PEX banned in California? ›
PEX produces toxic smoke when burned in building fires. Despite evidence of potential failure, leaching and permeation problems, PEX manufacturers continued the long pattern of industry resistance to public disclosure and review of plastic plumbing products under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).Do you have to wrap SharkBite fittings? ›
SharkBite push-to-connect fittings are made of brass, which is susceptible to corrosion when exposed to severe ground conditions. To use SharkBite brass fittings underground and maintain the 25-year warranty, they must be wrapped for any underground application.Should you double crimp PEX? ›
Because the ear (and not the clamp itself) is fastened with the tool, you only need one crimper, regardless of the sizes of the pipes you install. With the compression tools you use installing copper piping, you need one for every pipe size.How far apart should PEX be hot or cold? ›
How far apart should hot and cold PEX lines be? Generally, each hot and cold water line is run through separate holes spaced between 2-6 inches apart, depending on the amount of space that is available. There are a few reasons for this. One reason is for easy installation.Can you run PEX through PVC? ›
And fortunately, connecting PVC to PEX is easy to do. Whether you're looking to repair or expand your plumbing, adding PEX to your existing system is accomplished using a threaded fitting. In general, a fitting comes with one half to attach to existing pipe, and another half that fits on the PEX pipe.
Can you bury PEX crimp rings? ›
Is PEX Suited for Underground Use? A PEX pipe will hold up well underground. However, it's not rated for use outdoors unless it's properly insulated. If using a PEX pipe underground, bury it at least 12 to 18 inches below the frost line.What is better for plumbing PEX or PVC? ›
When a connection to copper or other metal pipes is required, PEX works better than PVC because crosslinked polyethylene won't corrode. - Price. When you compare the material costs of PEX vs PVC, PEX comes out more expensive. (However, balance this factor against the lower labor cost to install PEX.)Is PEX pipe stronger than PVC? ›
PEX pipes can last as long as 50 years. PVC (when kept in the correct conditions) can last for 70 years. However, CPVC (which is copper lined and therefore more durable than PVC) will need to be replaced every 20 years. This means that cheap PVC lasts the longest, but durable PEX lasts longer than the strongest PVC.What can PEX connect to? ›
Advantages of selecting PEX tubing:
PEX can be connected to existing copper and galvanized steel water supply lines with the use of fittings—small pieces that link the two types of plumbing together. Due to its flexibility less fittings are needed, unlike metal piping which cannot bend.
Over the years, the chemicals in our water supplys would cause the zinc to leach out of these fittings causing them to become brittle and eventually leak. These fittings have come under heavy fire as of recent years and were subject to a class action lawsuit.Why is PEX illegal? ›
PEX produces toxic smoke when burned in building fires. Despite evidence of potential failure, leaching and permeation problems, PEX manufacturers continued the long pattern of industry resistance to public disclosure and review of plastic plumbing products under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).Do mice eat PEX pipe? ›
PEX Pipe Is Vulnerable
Rodents Chewing Through PEX Pipe is a common problem in our area. It doesn't matter how old your home is, if you have an attic, you need to watch for rodent damage to PEX Pipe or PVC.
Due to the problem earlier caused by polybutylene (PEX predecessors) plastic PEX fitting have been recommended. It is true that in areas where water is less acidic, brass fitting is better. But in areas where water is acidic or easily contaminated, plastic fittings are better.Does PEX leak over time? ›
As with any other pipes, PEX is not prone to leaking. Nearly all of the plumbing leaks occur at joints (connection spots) and most of them are due to incorrect installation. Much like installing PEX tubing, repairing it is also an easy process.Do plumbers recommend PEX? ›
No longer is copper piping the primary, or preferred, choice of most homeowners and plumbers. Cross-linked polyethylene flexible tubing—commonly called PEX—has grown in popularity for residential plumbing over the past few decades as an alternative to traditional copper and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) piping.
Is it better to crimp or clamp PEX? ›
Pinch Clamp Tools Work Better in Tight Spaces
Especially when your PEX is pressed up against a wall—or there is just otherwise very little wiggle room to work—crimp tools can become a much bigger hassle. The larger jaw of the tool means you need ample room behind your PEX to be able to make a proper connection.
Color-Coded: Red PEX pipes can be used for hot water supply lines, blue PEX for cold water supply, and white for either hot or cold. These colors are just for your convenience. Plumbing code does not require the pipe color to match the type of water supply.What is the best type of PEX connections? ›
PEX Fittings and More
The easiest to use are brass push-fit fittings, which simply “bite” into the tubing. Other types of fittings used with PEX are crimp, clamp, press and compression, any of which are less expensive but require specialized tools.