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Types of PEX Connections: Pros and Cons Explained

PEX is an acronym that stands for cross-linked polyethylene. This type of piping system has emerged as a popular choice among plumbers, and it’s easy to see why. PEX connections offer many advantages over copper or steel pipe systems, but they also have some drawbacks too.

In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of using different types of PEX connections so you can decide if they are right for your project.

What are the Types of PEX Connections?

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There are five main types of PEX connections and all have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are those-

  • Push fittings
  • Crimp ring type connections
  • Clamp connections
  • Compression style fittings
  • Expansion fittings

Now that you know what are the types, let’s describe all of them in detail-

Expansion Fittings

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Expansion fittings are a special type of compression fitting that allows you to connect two types of tubing with different diameters by stretching the smaller one inside the larger one. This becomes possible by a PEX expansion tool reviewed here. These fittings have a ring or collar that compresses onto the outside of one side, and there’s another smaller fitting on the inside. This type is suitable for hot water installations because it has better pressure resistance than compression fittings, but they’re also available in cold-water versions with different shapes.

Pros

The biggest advantage of this type of connection is that it’s suitable for larger tubing diameters (up to an inch, depending on the type). This allows you to install them with hot water systems without worrying about any issues.

Expansion fittings are also very easy and quick to install with the right tools and fitting equipment.

Cons

The main downside of expansion fittings is that the tools required for this type of fittings are expensive and it’s not feasible for most DIY repair guys to spend a few hundred bucks on a tool that they will barely use.

Push Fittings

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A push fitting is a connection that uses no special tools at all to install. These low-cost fittings quickly attach directly to the flexible tubing with just an insertion tool (usually a cinch clamp).

Pros

Push fittings are extremely easy to install, and they don’t require special tools. They’re also very durable as long as you use a high-quality PEX brand.

The push fitting connection is the best option for DIYers who want an easy installation process with minimal equipment requirements. This type of connection can also be used to connect PEX pipe and tubing through concrete slabs, which makes it a good choice for home renovation projects.

Cons

The main drawback of push fittings is that you can’t make any angle or curve connections with them (unless you use couplings). This connection type also isn’t suitable for high water pressure when compared to other types.

Crimp Ring Type Connections

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This type of connection requires a special tool to install. A crimp ring is inserted into the PEX tubing, and then it’s compressed using a crimping tool that inserts two metal rings over either side of the tubing. This causes the compression fittings inside to flatten out so they can’t move or slide.

Pros

Crimp ring connections are extremely secure and reliable, which makes them a popular choice for high-pressure applications like solar water heating systems or hydronic radiant floor heat installations.

These fittings also come with extra safety features that allow you to detect leaks before they result in serious problems. The rings on the outside of this connection type physically seal the tubing, so any leaks will cause them to expand and give you an early warning.

Cons

The main drawback of crimp ring fittings is that they require special tools for proper installation. You can buy these tools individually or as part of a kit with all different types of PEX connection types included (this makes it a good choice for professional plumbers).

Clamp Connections

A clamp connection requires a special tool to cut and remove the end of the tubing, then it’s clamped over each side with metal rings. The compression fittings inside cause both sides to flatten out like they do in a crimp ring fitting. Clamps are available in different shapes and sizes, which allows them to work with a range of tubing diameters.

Pros

Clamp connections are very durable because they lock both sides down tight on the PEX pipe or tubing. This type of connection is also suitable for high water pressure applications like hydronic radiant floor heat systems.

The clamp fitting has one major advantage over other connection types: you can install it on the tubing before inserting it into a fitting. This makes this type of connection suitable for tight spots and hard-to-reach locations like under sinks or behind toilets where space is very limited.

Cons

The main drawback of clamp connections is that they require special tools to install correctly. This connection type also isn’t suitable for hot water installations because the clamps can fail under high heat.

Compression Fittings

This is a special type of fitting that doesn’t require a tool to install it, but you need something heavy and flat like a hammer or mallet to push both sides together so they collapse tightly onto the tubing. You can also use a special compression tool or crimping pliers to compress the fittings together for more pressure resistance and security, which allows you to connect them without any additional equipment.

Pros

The biggest advantage of this type of fitting is that it doesn’t require any tools, so it’s perfect if you only need one connection on a project like repairing a leaking faucet or adding an outdoor spigot.

Compression fittings are also very easy to install because you don’t need any additional equipment, and they’re available in different types that work with either PEX pipe or tubing. This type of connection is suitable for both hot and cold water installations because it has better resistance than others.

Cons

The main downside of compression fittings is that they’re not suitable for PEX pipe and tubing with a diameter larger than half an inch (and even then, it might be too small depending on the type). You need to use this type of fitting if you work with smaller sizes only because it’s not a good idea to try and force large tubing into a fitting that isn’t compatible.

Conclusion

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There are a lot of different types of PEX fittings, but crimp ring connections and compression fittings are the two most common.

These are cheap yet provide great connections that are very durable, so they’re suitable for professionals and DIYers alike.


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignpolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com

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