Can You Use PEX Pipe For Air Lines 

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PEX pipes are extensively used in plumbing systems since they are the easiest and cheapest piping options. Currently, we are witnessing a steady increase in people using PEX pipes for airlines. 

We can attribute this to PEX’s high burst pressure and long-term reliability. PEX pipes usually come in 1/2, 3/4, and 1-inch sizes and require fewer connections and fittings compared to steel or copper. 

Therefore, you can use PEX for airlines because it is flexible, lightweight, non-corrosive, and straightforward to install. 

pex pipes for airlines

Can You Use PEX Pipe For Air Lines?

Yes, you can use PEX pipe for airlines. Because of its flexibility, it is relatively simple to install. You can maneuver the PEX around objects while the fittings connect without so much fuss. 

Besides, it is lightweight, allowing you to mount it on walls and ceilings without bringing the whole structure down.

PEX is less corrosive than both copper and steel pipes. You can use the tubes for years without leaks and contamination. With UV rays as the most potent corrosive, insulate the PEX with tape or form to minimize your maintenance costs. 

How Much Air Pressure Will PEX Hold

To determine how much air pressure a PEX holds, you will need to conduct a hydrostatic burst pressure test. ASTM F876 requires any PEX tubing to have a minimum of 480 psi for 1/2-inch pipe and 475 psi for any 3/4-inch pipe or larger. 

However, most PEX pipes can hold as high as 800 psi which is beyond the ASTM requirements. It is usually a deliberate move by manufacturers to ensure the maximum consumer safety of their products. 

You can find this information from the manufacturer’s websites or ASM International free of charge.

Whether or not the pipe has visible air pressure ratings, always remember to double-check. Using unrated PEX can lead to serious physical injuries or property damage.

Can You Use PEX for Air Compressor

You can use PEX for an air compressor, provided it does not exceed the pressure rating of the PEX. The most suitable type of PEX pipes you can use for an air compressor is PEX-AL-PEX.

Also referred to as PAP pipes, their construction is designed to withstand the consistent pulses from the pump.

Looking for some more information about these pipes? Watch the video below:

Why PEX-AL-PEX Pipes

Reinforcement

PEX-AL-PEX is made up of three layers of pipes. An exterior and interior PEX pipe with an aluminum layer sandwiched in between. The aluminum reinforces the structure of the pipe, making it stiffer and tougher. Moreover, the linear expansion during temperature changes is significantly less than standard PEX. 

Higher Pressure Rating

The PAP pressure ratings are 200 psi @73°F /125 psi @ 180°F as compared to 160psi @ 73°F / 100psi @ 180°F of standard PEX pipes. The higher pressure rating lessens the likelihood of the pipe bursting or deforming as the compressed air passes through it. It also prolongs the service life and reliability of the PAP pipes.

Bendable

While PEX-AL-PEX is a little bit more rigid than standard PEX pipes, you can still bend it with your hands. Thanks to the intermediate aluminum layer, the pipe will maintain its shape when you bend it. Most PAP pipes allow up to a 5-inches bending radius without kinking, allowing you to use lesser joint connectors.

Permeability

PAP pipes have little to no vapor permeability. Over time, regular PEX pipes will cause water and air molecules to leak into the interior of the plastic. However, the aluminum forms a permeable membrane preventing elements from seeping into the interior PEX pipe.

Easy Joint Assembly

The joints of PAP pipes will usually have compression fittings or crimp-on-connector rings. You will be able to attach the pipes to the compressor quickly and easily. It is also safer since these joints don’t require soldering or a blow torch during assembly, which could charge and ignite the air.

PEX-AL-PEX pipes are usually orange in color and slightly pricier than the other types of PEX. However, they provide value for money considering all these functional features.

They may also require some special fittings, so you are better off buying them in a kit rather than assembling the pieces.

Maintenance

Proper maintenance of your PEX pipes is essential to the efficient functioning of your airlines. Regularly check for leaks in the piping system as they may lead to a decrease in pressure volume and consequently higher energy costs. 

You may also need to install filters to keep condensation in check. Moisture inside the tubing compromises the quality of air and accelerates corrosion of any metallic parts. The filters will also trap any debris or dust so remember to drain them regularly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the pressure rating for PEX pipes for airlines?

The standard rating is 160 psi at 73° and 100 psi at 180°F. The pressure rating is inversely proportional to temperature. 

As the temperature increases, the air pressure decreases. PEX pipes have a maximum temperature rating of 200°F, and at this temperature, the air pressure rating is usually 79-80 psi.

How tight can I bend a PEX pipe?

While PEX pipes are flexible, they should not be bent too tightly without bend helps. The law of the thumb is that the bending should not exceed six times the dimensions of the pipe. 

Consequently, a ½ and ¾-inch PEX pipe should have a maximum bending radius of 3 and 4.5 inches, respectively.

How long will a PEX pipe last?

Under optimum conditions, you can use your PEX for up to 50 years. The lifespan depends on the nature of use and how well you will shield the tubing from corrosive agents. 

PEX is a Type 7 plastic; hence it is neither recyclable nor biodegradable. It would help if you always discarded it responsibly to minimize landmass plastic pollution. 

Final Words

The use of PEX pipes for air lines has been on an upward trajectory as people look for cheaper but durable alternatives to copper and steel piping. However, before usage, always check with the manufacturer if that particular PEX pipe is suitable for air lines. 

Improper usage of the pipe automatically voids the warranty agreement, and any mishaps or damages are treated as negligence.

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