When it comes to plumbing, one major decision homeowners and contractors face is choosing between PEX crimp and clamp connections.
Both methods are widely used for creating watertight seals when connecting PEX pipes.
In this article, we will delve into an in-depth comparison of PEX crimp vs clamp, discussing the key differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each method.
Additionally, we will touch upon the benefits of using PEX pipes and some common issues associated with them.
1. Introduction to PEX Crimp and Clamp
Polyethylene cross-linked (PEX) pipes have become a popular choice for residential and commercial plumbing systems due to their affordability, durability, and ease of installation.
When it comes to connecting PEX pipes, two main methods are used: crimping and clamping.
While both methods aim to create reliable and secure connections, there are several key differences between them that may influence your decision on which one to choose.
2. PEX Crimping: An Overview
Crimping is an older and more established method of sealing PEX connections, trusted by both professionals and DIY enthusiasts.
The process involves using a crimping tool and copper rings to create tight connections between PEX pipes and fittings.
The copper rings have teeth that grip the PEX tubing, providing a strong and secure seal.
~ How PEX Crimping Works
To create a crimp connection, first, slide the copper ring onto the PEX pipe. Then, insert the PEX fitting into the pipe, ensuring that it is fully seated.
Position the copper ring about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the end of the pipe.
Finally, use the crimping tool to compress the copper ring, squeezing it tightly around the pipe and fitting. The result is a secure, watertight connection.
3. PEX Clamping: An Overview
PEX clamping is another method used to create watertight connections between PEX pipes and fittings. Like crimping, clamping relies on a metal ring to secure the joint.
However, clamping uses stainless steel rings instead of copper ones. Additionally, clamping only requires tightening a specific spot on the ring, rather than the entire ring itself.
~ How PEX Clamping Works
To create a clamp connection, first, slide the stainless steel clamp ring onto the PEX pipe. Then, insert the PEX fitting into the pipe, making sure it is fully seated.
Position the clamp ring about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the end of the pipe.
Finally, use a clamping tool to tighten the clamp ring, securing the pipe and fitting together. The result is a reliable, watertight connection.
4. Differences Between PEX Crimp and Clamp
While both crimping and clamping methods aim to create watertight connections, there are several key differences between them:
PEX clamping tools are generally more versatile than crimping tools, as a single clamping tool can be used for various pipe sizes.
In contrast, crimping tools are often designed to work with specific PEX fittings and may require interchangeable jaws or multiple tools for different pipe sizes.
4.2. Reliability and Accuracy
Crimp connections are considered more reliable and accurate due to the use of a GO/NO GO gauge, which allows users to check if the connection is properly sealed.
Clamping tools usually do not have this feature but are designed to stop working once the connection is fully closed.
Crimping is often seen as easier to use than clamping, making it a popular choice among professionals and DIYers alike.
Clamping, on the other hand, can be more technical and may require greater skill to master.
However, mistakes made during clamping can be more easily corrected, as the clamps can be removed and repositioned.
Crimp connections use copper rings, while clamp connections utilize stainless steel rings.
Due to the inherent properties of copper, it is more prone to corrosion and is less durable than stainless steel.
This makes clamp connections potentially more resistant to damage caused by freezing water and other environmental factors.
5. Pros and Cons of PEX Crimp
Before choosing between PEX crimp and clamp, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each method.
5.1. Pros of PEX Crimp
- Easier to use, making it suitable for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts.
- More accurate and reliable connections due to the use of a GO/NO GO gauge.
- Established method with a proven track record.
5.2. Cons of PEX Crimp
- Less versatile, as multiple crimping tools or interchangeable jaws may be required for different pipe sizes.
- Copper rings may be more prone to corrosion and damage compared to stainless steel clamps.
6. Pros and Cons of PEX Clamp
Just as with crimp connections, it’s crucial to evaluate the pros and cons of clamp connections before making a decision.
6.1. Pros of PEX Clamp
- More versatile, as a single clamping tool can be used for various pipe sizes.
- Stainless steel rings offer greater durability and resistance to corrosion compared to copper crimp rings.
- Easier to correct mistakes, as clamps can be removed and repositioned.
6.2. Cons of PEX Clamp
- Can be more technical and challenging to master compared to crimping.
- Lacks the accuracy and reliability offered by a GO/NO GO gauge found in crimping tools.
7. Why Use PEX Pipes?
PEX pipes have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering several advantages over traditional copper pipes:
PEX pipes are generally cheaper than copper pipes, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious homeowners and contractors.
The flexible nature of PEX pipes allows for fewer connections and easier installation, reducing the likelihood of errors and leaks.
PEX pipes are highly resistant to corrosion, mineral scale buildup, and pitting, ensuring a long-lasting plumbing system with reduced maintenance requirements.
8. Issues with PEX Pipes
Despite their many advantages, PEX pipes are not without their share of problems:
Dezincification can occur in brass pipe fittings used to connect PEX pipes, leading to blockages, reduced water flow, and leaks.
Excessive chlorine in the water supply can cause the interior wall of PEX pipes to oxidize, weakening the pipe and potentially causing it to fail.
8.3. Ultraviolet (UV) Light
PEX pipes are susceptible to damage from UV light, which can cause the pipe to become brittle and crack.
PEX pipes should not be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods.
PEX pipes can become more permeable when exposed to petroleum products and oxygen, potentially leading to contamination and corrosion in closed-loop systems.
8.5. Chemical Leaching
Some PEX pipes may leach potentially toxic chemicals into the water, including BPA, MTBE, and TBA.
8.6. Drinking Water Quality
Certain PEX pipe brands may negatively affect water quality, altering the taste and smell of the water that passes through them.
8.7. Rodent Issues
Rodents may be attracted to the sound of water flowing through PEX pipes and could chew through the pipes, causing extensive damage.
9. Selecting the Right Tools for PEX Connections
To ensure successful PEX connections, it’s essential to choose the appropriate tools and materials for the job:
- For crimp connections, select a crimping tool designed for your specific pipe size. Some tools may require interchangeable jaws for different sizes.
- For clamp connections, a single clamping tool can typically be used for various pipe sizes.
- Always use high-quality copper crimp rings or stainless steel clamp rings, as these materials play a crucial role in the connection’s durability and reliability.
10. Conclusion: Making the Right Choice
PEX crimp vs clamp is a decision that ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your plumbing project.
Both methods offer reliable and secure connections, but each has its pros and cons.
By considering factors such as versatility, reliability, ease of use, and durability, you can make an informed choice between PEX crimp and clamp for your plumbing needs.
Remember to use high-quality tools and materials to ensure a successful and long-lasting PEX connection.