How To Remove PEX Fittings (With & Without Tools)

PEX fittings are an essential piece of PEX plumbing systems. They provide watertight seals between sections of the pipe, ensuring water traveling through remains inside the pipe instead of around it. There may come a time when you need to remove the PEX fittings, perhaps to address an issue or replumb the area.

Key Points:

  • PEX fittings are removable and reusable as long as they are undamaged.
  • Push-fit fittings can be removed with commonly available tools, while crimp fittings require a specialized tool.
  • Removal of crimp fittings requires a pipe cutter, ring removal tool, or other basic tools such as pliers, wire cutters, and flathead screwdrivers.

While the removal process for PEX fittings is reasonably simple, it varies based on the fitting you’re working with. This guide reviews how to remove the most common types of PEX fittings, so continue reading to learn more!

Can PEX Fittings Be Removed And Reused?

Generally speaking, PEX fittings are removable and reusable. As long as you remove the fitting carefully, ensuring you don’t damage it, you can reuse it. However, if you accidentally damage the fitting, it’s best to avoid reusing it.

Reusing a marked or damaged fitting could lead to failed seals and leaks, causing water damage in the surrounding area. So, while you can reuse PEX fittings, examine them for damage before reusing them. If they’re in good shape, you can reuse them!

Can You Remove PEX Fittings Without Tools?

Most PEX fitting removal processes entail the assistance of tools. However, you don’t necessarily need specialized tools. You can remove many of these fittings without using fancy tools. Instead, you might be able to tackle the project with nothing more than basic tools, like wire cutters and flathead screwdrivers.

That said, some of the following methods require special tools to make the process easier. It all depends on the type of fitting you need to remove.

How Do You Remove PEX Fittings?

The removal process for PEX fittings varies based on the type of fitting you’re working with. Some removal processes are easier than others, while some require specialized tools to complete. Here’s how to remove the most common PEX fittings:

Push-Fit Fittings

Brass push-fit fittings, also known as push-to-connect fittings, are one of the easiest types to work with. You don’t need specialized tools to install these fittings on PEX tubing, so they’re a popular pick among DIYers.

The removal process varies slightly based on the type of removal tool you use. For example, if you use the SharkBite disconnect tool, you simply align the prong on the pipe, ensuring the side labeled “pipe” is completely seated across the release collar.

Then, squeeze the tool’s handle to compress the collar, which releases the fitting from the pipe. Now, you can pull the fitting free. To loosen the pipe easier, rotate the pipe or fitting slightly while releasing the fitting.

Conversely, other push-fit fittings feature a slightly different mechanism, like the push-lock mechanism. With these mechanisms, use a horseshoe-shaped removal tool designed for these fittings. Simply fit the device around the end of the pipe, ensuring the non-branded face sits against the release collar.

Push the tool against the release collar and tug the pipe out while gently twisting it, which should release the pipe.

Crimp Fittings

If the PEX tubing is secured with crimp fittings, there are a couple of methods you can use for removal. The first option requires the use of a ring removal tool. Simply snip the fitting assembly from the tubing using a pipe cutter, ensuring the cut is as close to the fitting as possible.

Adjust the tool to match the size of the crimp ring (if applicable) and insert the small jaw into the fitting. Close the handles and squeeze to break through the copper ring. Avoid snipping through the entire fitting, as you can’t reuse damaged fittings. Rotate the tool around the ring, making several cuts until the ring loosens enough to slide off.

Once the ring is off the fitting, expand the pipe by inserting the tool into the fitting. Close the handles to contract and expand the tubing, rotating the device as necessary until you can remove the PEX tubing.

Alternatively, you can use basic tools to remove the ring. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Vise clamp
  • Hack saw or Dremel
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Heat gun

After cutting the fitting from the tubing, secure it in a vise clamp. Use a hacksaw or Dremel to carefully slice through the crimp ring, creating a cut perpendicular to the pipe. After cutting the crimp ring, use a flathead screwdriver to pry open the ring and remove it.

Next, use a pair of pliers to grip the remaining PEX attached to the fitting. This part can be a bit tricky, as the barbs on the PEX make it challenging to remove the pipe. Work the pipe back and forth, twisting it until it comes free from the fitting. In some cases, you might have to cut parts of the pipe to remove it from the fitting. Be careful not to slice through the fitting.

If you cannot get the PEX out of the fitting, try heating the tubing with a heat gun. Heat the PEX slowly and carefully, then try to remove the tubing once it’s warm.

Clamp Fittings

Clamp fittings are fairly simple to remove and only require a single tool. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Heavy-duty ratchet clamp or wire cutters

First, cut the fitting out of the system. Once the fitting is removed, cut the tab of the fitting using a ratchet clamp or wire cutters. If you use a ratchet clamp, slide the metal tabs down before fitting the jaws over the tab to cut it.

Snip through the tab to loosen the ring, then slide the loosened ring from the fitting. With the ring off of the fitting, you can remove the tubing. Simply work the tubing back and forth while pulling to slide it off the fitting.

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