PEX stands for "crosslinked polyethylene," named after the manufacturing process of the plastic tubing. PEX plumbing is a potable plumbing system that uses flexible, durable plastic tubing and metal or plastic fittings and connectors. PEX tubing can be installed in various ways; some of the most common methods are the crimping and clamping methods. These methods use metal rings that are squeezed around the tubing for a tight joint.
Method of Installation
The PEX crimping system is comprised of a metal ring that is placed over the PEX tubing. A large tool, called a crimper, is placed perpendicular to the tubing, and placed perfectly over the ring. The crimping tool handles are squeezed together over the ring; this crimps the ring over the tubing and onto a brass fitting inside the tubing. The PEX clamping system is similar, but a stainless steel clamp is used instead of a ring. A special clamping tool grasps a small tab on one side of the clamp; when the tool handles are squeezed, the clamp tightens around the tubing. Unlike the PEX crimper, the PEX clamp tool does not encircle the clamp to compress the tubing onto the fitting.
Ease of Installation
The PEX clamping system is slightly more easy to install than the crimping system. The clamping system does not require extreme accuracy as the crimping system does. The clamping tool grasps a tab on the side of the stainless steel clamp. The crimping system requires that the crimp tool encircle the crimp perfectly to make a complete crimp.
Composition of Materials and Tools
The PEX crimping rings are usually composed of copper, a soft metal that flexes and bends under pressure. PEX clamps are constructed of stainless steel metal. Both PEX systems require special tools for installation. The crimping system needs a variety of tool adapter sizes due to the various tubing diameters and rings for these diameters. The clamping system utilizes only one tool no matter the tubing and clamp size.
Both the crimping and clamping PEX systems are recognized by the International Plumbing Code, the International Residential Code, the National Standards Plumbing Code and the Uniform Plumbing Code. All fittings are required to conform to approved standards and marked in accordance as such. The crimping and clamping systems, when installed properly, are satisfactory and reliable.
The PEX clamping system is slightly less expensive than the PEX crimping system. This is due to the tool requirements: the crimping system uses more specialized tools with adapter accessories. Cost of installation is slightly more for the crimping system, as well, as the installer must work more carefully with the crimping system to ensure accurate connections.
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