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Community and Q&A

Can PEX pipe be reused after a fitting is removed?

K C | Posted in GBA Pro Help on

I’ve had 3 plastic on brass pex swivel connections fail. Each time I noticed water, reached up to check the connections only to have the nuts shatter in my hand. The first two times I used push connect fittings to replace the swivel fittings, connecting to the supply after the fitting was attached to the sink. After another failure yesterday on Thanksgiving I’ve decided to replace all the plastic on brass with all brass swivel fittings. I hack-sawed the pillow-top of the crimp connection then used a hair dryer to heat the pex, pulled out the brass shank and slid off the clamp. Is the area where the shank was safe to receive a new fitting and clamp? I need that short bit of length on this pipe; I want to avoid adding a coupling.

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Replies

  1. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    K.C.,
    My instinct tells me that if you have had three failures in a row, you're doing something wrong.

    My instinct also tells me that your desire to cut corners to avoid the need to add a coupling is misguided.

    I haven't done much work with PEX -- I prefer copper tubing -- but I've learned a few things over the years about trying to cut corners with plumbing repairs. My advice is to buy a coupling.

    One other piece of advice: If you don't (for whatever reason) want to buy a coupling, you might (in light of the fact that you've had three failures in a row) consider hiring a plumber for this repair.

  2. K C | | #2

    Nearly 11 years ago this house was purchased new, the fixtures and fittings were all installed by a plumber and a pumbing inspector signed off on the work. It is the original fittings that are failing, my repairs with push connect or bite fittings have held.

    While copper may be superior I can't afford to replumb my entire house with any pipe. The reason I want to avoid couplings is to lessen the risk of a clamp failure, that being said all the clamps have held, it's the plastic nuts that attach the fitting to the sinks that have failed.

  3. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    K.C.,
    Fair enough. PEX systems are good systems -- there is no reason to believe that copper tubing is superior to PEX. (Copper tubing just happens to be what I'm familiar with.)

    I'm not sure why the plastic nuts are failing, but it's quite possible that you will have better luck with all-brass fittings.

  4. Malcolm Taylor | | #4

    KC,
    If I'm correct and we are talking about the supply lines that run from the shut-off valves to sinks, I'd suggest relaxing them with new braid ones. They have no plastic connectors and are easy to install.
    http://www.homedepot.com/b/Plumbing-Plumbing-Parts-Repair-Shut-off-Valves-Supply-Lines-Supply-Lines/N-5yc1vZbqjn

  5. K C | | #5

    Thanks for that suggestion Malcolm. I hadn't considered the tension on the pipe between the shut-off and the sink. I've attached a picture of the fitting. The plastic disk that holds the plastic nut to the brass nub is what failed. It didn't shatter into lots of pieces, but separated as soon as I touched it which is why I chose the adjective "shatter" to describe the fail. The clamp is in two pieces because I cut it off.

  6. Rick Van Handel | | #6

    I agree with Malcolm. Replace the swivel fitting with a pex angle stop. From there you can use a stainless braided line to the faucet. With supply lines, be careful not to over tighten. They are not like threaded fittings that need to be torqued excessively hard. Tighten according to manufacturer instructions, which is usually only a half turn past finger tight. The rubber washer will do the rest.

  7. K C | | #7

    Rick,

    I'm having trouble visualizing...the broken nut swivel fitting was attached to the underside of the sink to supply the faucet then attached to a straight length of about 18"pex down to the shut-off. Where would I put the anglestop? On the underside of the sink or closer to the shutoff? Is there an optimum lenght of braided line?

  8. Rick Van Handel | | #8

    The angle stop is normally attached close to where your pex line penetrates the drywall or your floor, although there is no hard and fast rule that I'm aware of. If your pex is stubbed through the wall, a 12" braided hose is usually a good length. However, most big box stores carry braided hoses in 2" increments, so you can pick the one that best fits your needs. If it were mine, I wouldn't reuse the piece that had already been crimped. Cut it off and use a longer braided line if necessary. Also, get a good 1/4 turn ball valve angle stop. It will be worth the extra dollar or two.

  9. K C | | #9

    Rick,
    Thanks, now do you think I should go with clamp, crimp or bite on the supply side? 3/8" or 1/2" compression to connect the braided? My supply pex is 1/2". A bite stop would be a faster fix without buying any tools, but if I replace all the lines it may be cheaper to buy the tools.

  10. Malcolm Taylor | | #10

    KC,
    If your shut-offs are in good shape I'd leave well enough alone and just replace the supply lines. If they aren't I'd put in sharkbite shut-offs.

  11. K C | | #11

    Malcolm,

    The shut-offs are holding fine. What size braided line and type of attachment do you suggest? I hope to get this fixed today because I don't want to have the shut-off under pressure much longer.

  12. Rick Van Handel | | #12

    Most supply stops will be threaded for a 3/8" hose. Your faucet connection will likely be the same. FYI, if u intend to do any more diy plumbing, the stainless steel cinch clamp system is almost foolproof, and the tool is approx $30 dollars. Compression fittings on pex also work fine, but use a stiffener in the pex.

  13. Malcolm Taylor | | #13

    KC,
    If you go to any supply house or big box store there will be two types of lines, differing only in their top connection, to fit either sinks or toilets. Length is only an issue if you buy one that's too short!

    Don't worry about having the shut offs closed, unless they are broken they can stay that way indefinitely.

    Rick gave you good advice about connections. If you plan on doing much more plumbing it's a good idea to invest in some simple tools.

    As you've found your sink connections are aging, it's probably a good time to switch out your clothes washer supply lines. If you never want to worry about them again you can spring for these:
    http://www.floodchek.com/product/floodchek-hoses/?v=3e8d115eb4b3

  14. K C | | #14

    I am about to head to the orange box now to check out their offerings. That is good advice on the washer hoses. I replaced mine with braided metal ones and replaced the valve box a couple years ago after I noticed a problem at the cold line on the washer. I think I will soon check the integrity of fittings to the supply valves because I don't recall changing those.

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