When choosing plastic or brass fittings to use for PEX piping, there are many varieties of tools and products available to use. In general, plumbing fittings come in a wide range of products, but before choosing, you have to consider the cost, quality, and the ease of installation. Researching is always advisable otherwise, you might end up with a serious headache. Some plumbers who make use of the wrong fittings for PEX piping end up having to perform costly repairs and end up doing unnecessary warranty work.
Understanding Plastic or Brass Fittings
The choices for PEX fittings are uncountable. Marisa Chandley, who was a senior marketing manager for a vanguard plumbing company, a company that majorly sells fittings and PEX pipe explained her view, focusing on the fact that fittings have an ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standard and are generally marked by third-party agencies such as NSF (National Science Foundation) and ULC (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada).
Plastic fittings have been considered to be less durable. Some are also of the opinion that plastic fittings may be of smaller diameter than that of brass fittings thereby making it less effective. The basic fact is that plastic fittings is better and effective, unlike the brass PEX fitting. Korea and China are the major importers of cheap brass fittings. Sometimes they are mistaken for high standard fittings. The major thing to use when differentiating an original product from a fake is the UL or NSF mark by the side. This mark is very necessary another side you might not know the difference.
Due to the problem earlier caused by polybutylene (PEX predecessors) plastic PEX fitting have been recommended. It is true that in areas where water is less acidic, brass fitting is better. But in areas where water is acidic or easily contaminated, plastic fittings are better. Hot soils effect brass fitting as they tend to corrode easily. When they corrode it starts wearing away, it can cause failure at any time.
There are periods when brass fittings are most ideal. An example is when you are being exposed to a chemical agent at the application; plastic doesn’t react very well. But if upon application of certain chemical agents, brass is better to be used.
The brass PEX fitting and the plastic PEX fittings have some advantages as well as disadvantages, and I’ll like to explain them in detail.
Advantages of Brass fittings
Brass is a tough fitting
When looking for a tough fitting to use, brass is a good example. It has some good strength and can be very reliable for PEX fittings.
The easiest to install is the brass PEX fitting. All you need is a tool that clamps the copper crimp ring down. If that is properly done, within a few minutes, you are done with your installation.
Disadvantages of Brass fittings
The brass PEX fittings if not carefully used can affect the performance of pipes. If the water coming out through the pipe is acidic, the brass PEX fitting can easily burst. Brass PEX fitting generally does not have good performance.
It is prone to leakage.
When the weather temperature is hotter than expected, the brass PEX fitting doesn’t have the strength to withstand the heat and this most times results to severe leakage. This leakage takes time to stop even when measures are taking.
Original products are scarce
This is the most annoying part of the brass PEX fitting. It is very hard to see an original product. Most of the products are made in China and Korea and they don’t take a long time to wear out. When they start leaking, looking for measures to stop the leakage will never give a satisfying result as they are not made to last long.
It can corrode
The brass fittings can corrode although this depends on the water condition. The better the water condition, the lesser then tend to wear away.
It is costly
A lot of individuals prefer the plastic PEX fitting because the brass PEX fitting has proven to be more costly than any other PEX fittings. The cost of brass PEX fittings is not cheap, and this has resulted in an individual’s refusing to make use of it.
The plastic PEX fittings is preferably used by professional plumbers. This day’s professional plumbers are buying three times more plastic than brass. The brass PEX fitting cost almost 5 times than that of the plastic PEX fittings. When purchasing a plastic PEX fittings, you have more confidence as manufacturers trust them more than the brass PEX fittings.
Advantages of plastic fittings
They are designed for use.
Plastic fittings can be easily re-mountable and are designed for use and reuse. They can be easily removed, cleaned, serviced and reused again. It doesn’t break when removed. It is very strong and can be remounted as many times as possible. The products made are all performing good jobs with fewer complaints.
They rarely crush pipes.
It is very hard to see a plastic fitting to torque and crush a pipe. It will preferably strip than crush a pipe. No matter the outburst of water both acidic and contaminated, the plastic PEX fitting will typically never crush the pipe.
This is one of the best features of the plastic PEX fitting. It doesn’t easily leak. Unlike the brass PEX fitting that leaks easily, you can make use of the plastic PEX fitting for 10 years and still be rest assured that there will be no leakage.
In areas where water is very acidic plastic PEX fitting is the most ideal. Plastic fittings do not corrode or wear out due to terrible water condition. It is very effective and highly durable and can be used in houses that have a lower quality water system.
Disadvantages of the plastic fitting
The installation process of the plastic fitting is a little tougher. Unlike the brass fitting that can easily be installed, the process of installation of the plastic fitting requires some rigorous procedures.
The plastic fittings has been criticized by people who have not made use of it as they feel it is going to be as bad as the polybutylene. The polybutylene left with a bad reputation, and since then users have refused to make use of the plastic PEX fitting. The polybutylene is good and has high pressures, but once they get in touch with disinfectant, they easily burst and leak. They do not delay in damaging the water system.
The brass fitting is not as effective as the plastic PEX fitting. The fact that it easily corrodes makes it less useful to plumbers. Plumbers need to make use of good fittings when passing pipes in a house or a building. The brass doesn’t have any control over it fittings. If you are considering purchasing a good fitting for your pipe, it is better to make use of the plastic PEX fitting as it doesn’t easily corrode, it can be used for any water condition and doesn’t have fake products like the brass.