How To Fix Kinks in PEX Pipes
Got a plumbing job ahead? PEX pipes make things easier, and learning the various ways to fix kinks is a great skill to have.
When I accidentally caused some kinks in PEX pipe while installing my home’s plumbing system, I thought I’d messed up beyond repair. The PEX became badly twisted as I unspooled it from the roll, forming two sharply creased kinks as I tried to strong-arm it into submission.
As it turned out, things weren’t as bad as I thought. Unlike more traditional plumbing pipe materials like copper, damaged PEX doesn’t have to halt your installation for long. I learned the secrets of PEX kink repair, and just a few minutes later both kinks completely vanished.
Keep reading to find out what I learned about unkinking PEX pipe.
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Tools and Materials Needed
- PEX pipe cutter;
- Heat gun;
- PEX pipe J-clamps;
- Hammer or impact driver;
- ProPEX expanding tool (if working with PEX B);
- Metal crimp rings (if working with PEX C);
- Replacement PEX pipe (optional if working with PEX B or C);
- Brass coupling (if working with PEX B or C);
- Safety glasses and gloves.
Determine Which Type of PEX You Have
Examine the PEX pipe you’re working with to determine if it’s type A, B, or C. Kinks in PEX type A can be repaired with a heat gun, with no cutting of pipe or connectors required. Kinks in types B and C require cutting and connectors.
Locate the Kink and Relieve Pressure
- Turn off your water supply if the kinked section of pipe already contains water.
- Relieve any internal pressure by finding the nearest tap and turning it on. This releases the water inside the kinked section of PEX.
Heat the Kink (for PEX A)
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- For PEX type A, gently shift the kinked section to relieve strain on the pipe.
- Plug in your heat gun.
- Set the heat gun to medium, then point the end toward the kink in your PEX A.
- Slowly move the business end of the heat gun around the kink, heating the entire area evenly. Keep the gun one to two inches from the PEX surface.
- Continue heating the kink for several minutes until the pipe turns transparent and the kink completely disappears. Then turn off the heat gun.
- Wet a towel with cold water, then wrap it carefully around the heated area.
- Leave it there for several minutes until the PEX fully cools and the transparent section has become opaque again.
Cut Out the Kink (for PEX B or C)
- Relieve any strain that caused the kink in the pipe.
- Use a PEX pipe cutter to remove the kinked section, being careful not to take any more pipe than necessary.
- Join the cut areas with a brass coupling. You’ll need a ProPEX expander if working with type B, or a pair of metal crimp rings if working with type C.
Secure the Pipe
- Double-check the pipe for any more kinked areas, then turn the water supply on to ensure there are no leaks from the area repaired.
- Gather some plastic J-clamps, then secure the PEX to the wall to prevent future kinks. You can use a hammer to drive the nails that come with the J-clamps, but I like to replace the nails with two-and-one-half-inch deck screws installed with an impact driver because they hold better.
Tips and Tricks for Fixing Kinks in PEX Pipes
- Prevent kinks in the first place: Do everything you can to minimize strain and sharp bends when working with PEX.
- Use J-clamps: PEX is less likely to kink over time when it’s immobilized, so secure it to the wall using J-clamps wherever possible.
- Use PEX A: I’ve worked with every type of PEX, and type A is simply the best. It allows complete repair of kinks with a heat gun, rather than cutting out the kinked section.
- Use a PEX Uncoiler: In my experience, kinks are most likely to happen when unspooling PEX from the roll, because a twist is naturally imparted to the pipe. If you do a lot of work with PEX, get around this problem by investing in a proper PEX uncoiler to keep the pipe straight.