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February 25, 2020

Nashville, TN – What is PEX Tubing?

Posted in: Industry News

When something goes wrong with the plumbing in your home, it makes it easy to be able to call your trusted plumber, hopefully Jack Ward & Sons to get it repaired. Now let’s say your home is your RV or you are on the road in your temporary ‘home’, it’s not as simple to call the plumber.

Usually it is just a simple fix in your RV water supply (often a literal snap to repair). This is because the water lines in most RVs are plastic tubing called PEX(cross-linked polyethylene) pipes. Being that they are not buried inside walls and easily accessible for repair, you or your plumber should have easy access to easy plumbing.

Typically, the PEX pipe is connected using metal fittings and special tools that can complicate fixing the plumbing for RV owners. Instead of using the special tools, there are some workarounds to this: a variety of plastic fittings that snap things together like a puzzle, making repairs fast, simple, and inexpensive.

What is PEX tubing?

PEX tubing in homes is color-coded for hot and cold. Oddly enough, they are not color coded in RVs (they are usually translucent)! This makes the job a little tougher, but we’ll work past it.

There are two sizes used: 3/8-inch and ½-inch, which are the standard sizes because the external diameter of the tubing is about 1/8-inch greater than the called-for size. Also, PEX is rather inexpensive. A bulky 3/8-inch may set you back as little as 50 cents/foot.

Good news, PEX tubing is great for both cold and hot water (sometimes up to 200 degrees) plumbing. Chlorinated water is not an issue in terms of tubing or health safety.

What Tools Do I Need?

You should only need a cutting tool to cut the PEX tubing itself while working on your water lines. You can use anything from a utility knife, to a tubing cutter designed for PEX tubing. Using the PEX cutter will ensure a clean, even edge, although you might not have it handy at the time. A PEX cutter will also ensure leak-proof connections, but this is something a PVC pipe cutter can do as well, plus, you can use it one your PVC pipes.

Fittings That Are Required

When changing out water lines, there is a large variation you can take to get the job done when finding fittings. Simple couplers that allow fixing a break to tees for jobs, such as adding a new run, are available at hardware stores.

Other fittings include adapters that allow you to change from one size of tubing to the other. If you want to add a shut-off valve to turn the water off to your toilet without shutting down the whole RV supply, then there are fittings for that as well. Here are a couple of styles that are useful to RV owners (when it comes to plumbing):

Plastic compression fittings: There are many brands found in many hardware stores called that are relatively inexpensive. They can be found on online marketplaces like Amazon, but if you don’t have time to wait for shipping, then you can probably find them locally.

There are a few advantages of doing it this way: they are less expensive than quick-connect fittings, but the disadvantages occur when working in a cramped area. It can be a bit difficult to maneuver your hands in place to shove the tubing onto the fitting and to tighten the nut.

Which leads us to Quick-Connect fittings: These can cost a bit more than their counterpart. Using these fittings in a restricted area is much easier.

This is not only an easier fix in a cramped space, but there is also less water flow obstruction in this design, as opposed to the plastic compression style. Both insert material into the flow, but the tube stiffener seems to block less water flow.

Quick Connect fittings allow you to attach to a bunch of other plumbing materials, including copper and CPVC. The quick-connect fittings and the plastic compression fittings will also connect directly to PEX tubing.

You might find other brands and tubing that will fit better, but these are just a quick reference, being that you are- or could be- in a bind. If the problem that has occurred is hard to resolve on your own and you need professional assistance, give Jack Ward & Sons a call! today at (615) 227-2811.


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