Can You Cut Pex With A Copper Pipe Cutter? (Find Out Now!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

In the world of professional plumbing, there are few materials that are as oddly rare yet commonplace as PEX tubing. PEX water tubing can be found in almost every home in America, but at the same time, it can be a bit difficult to work with. One of the issues that plumbing newbies can have with PEX piping is the need to cut it. What can you even use to cut PEX piping, anyway?

For the most part, cutting PEX pipe should only be done with a cutting tool that’s meant for it. You can find them at your local hardware store in the form of ratchet-style or scissors-style tools. However, you can also cut PEX with a copper pipe cutter or an X-Acto knife in a pinch.

Copper pipe cutters are remarkably useful, especially when it comes to making sure stuff is cut well. PEX is no exception to the rule. This article will help you make sure that you get the best results possible.

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What Should You Use To Cut PEX Water Pipes?

PEX pipes are rubbery to the touch, but make no mistake about it. They are tough! This can make cutting them a chore in and of itself. Traditionally, you would use a PEX pipe cutter to do the trick. This is the best way to ensure that the cut you get is as even and seamless as humanly possible.

Currently, there are two types of cutters: ratchet and scissors PEX cutters. Both work the same way, by having you place the pipe in the cutter’s opening then clamping down on the cutter handles with your hands. Scissor PEX cutters may be a bit rough on your hands if you are not used to hard labor.

What Are The Best Alternatives To PEX Cutters?

You cannot cut PEX tubing with just anything. While PEX may seem pretty simple to cut through, it’s really dense and can be difficult to handle. With that said, you can use the following things to cut through them in a pinch:

  • Utility Knives. This needs to be done with care. It’s best to slice through one half of the piping, turn the piping over, then slice through the other half. It’s not always easy to use a knife.
  • Copper Pipe Cutters. Since copper pipe cutters are meant to cut through even tougher, denser surfaces, this is a good alternative. However, this might make your cut prone to cracking. Still, it can be worth a shot.
  • PVC Pipe Cutters. PEX and PVC have a lot in common in terms of material. In many cases, professional plumbers use PVC cutter to cut larger PEX pipes. They do great work and tend to have fittings that tend to grip PEX well.

What Fittings Work Best For Cutting PEX Piping?

If you are getting a pipe cutter to do the job, then you probably will need to have a fitting for said cutter. In this case, the only thing that you want to avoid is having a quick-connect, a JACO fitting, or a SharkBite fitting. These types of fittings are the least likely to hold the PEX tube in place, which means that you might have a harder time cutting the pipe evenly.

With that said, almost any pipe cutter that has mildly grippy fitting should work, even if it’s not quite the norm. You might just need to hold down the piping for longer.

Important Tips For Cutting A PEX Pipe

For the most part, cutting PEX should be fairly straightforward. Once you’ve cut one successfully, it’s easy enough to get into a rhythm with this stuff. However, some folks might struggle at first when they’re beginning to work with PEX pipe. This is why we want to give you these handy tips below…

  • Never try to cut PEX piping on an angle. While it is in theory possible, the truth is that it is never a good idea. In most cases, this is a good way to end up with cracked or unsteady piping. Moreover, it’s really hard to get a cut that has the right angle you want to have. It just doesn’t work out. So, yeah, cut straight.
  • Don’t bend the PEX pipe while you’re cutting it. This can be hard to do at times, but the truth is that it’s important. Bending the PEX pipe while it’s being cut can crack or break it.
  • Don’t pinch the tubing. While rubber tubes tend to do well with the occasional pinch, PEX tubes do not. Pinching the tube will not work out well, and may actually cause permanent deformities.
  • If you are using a copper pipe cutter, give a scrap of PEX a test cut first. Sometimes, this type of cutter will work. Other times, it won’t. If your pipe cut comes out botched, switch to a utility knife instead.

How Much Does A PEX Pipe Cutter Cost?

If you want to get the best possible results and also have the easiest time with cutting, it might be a good idea to borrow a friend’s PEX cutter. If you don’t have a buddy who has one, then buying one makes sense. This is doubly true if you’re going to be working on a lot of piping or systems that involve PEX.

People who want to buy a PEX pipe cutter should expect to pay $10 to $25 for a scissors-style cutting tool. If you want to have a ratchet PEX cutter, you may have to pay more. Ratchet-style PEX cutters begin at $20 and can cost as much as $100 for a professional-grade system. With that said, a good PEX cutter will make many of the projects that involve PEX plumbing. So, it’s money that will be well-spent.

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Related Questions

Why is PEX plumbing considered to be bad for housing?

PEX plumbing isn’t necessarily bad, per se. However, it does have its drawbacks. It’s been used in plumbing setups for decades, but the big issue that people have deals with fittings. Since cutting and affixing PEX can be difficult, this type of plumbing material is falling out of favor with many parts of the country.Moreover, piping made from PEX can fail pretty easily. It has major weaknesses that can be brought about by exposure to sunlight as well as UV radiation. Sometimes, even high heat can harm your piping. Worries about toxicity also started to surface in recent years?

Is PEX plumbing banned in California?

California is famous for banning substances that have been linked to cancer risks and potential reproductive harm. One of the more recent additions to the California ban list is PEX plumbing. The reason why? When exposed to heat, PEX piping has a tendency of leaching toxic chemicals into drinking water. Some also surmise that it may cause additional problems in the air quality of homes.With that said, Cali might not be the only state to ban PEX for too much longer. Several other states have been mulling over the decision of getting rid of this type of plumbing as a result of more recent evidence of its toxicity.

What is the lifespan of PEX pipe?

Despite the hate that PEX has been getting, a lot of home builders still prefer to use PEX piping in homes. Part of the reason for this deals with the exceptionally long lifespan of standard PEX pipes. If taken care of and put in the right environment, a typical PEX pipe can last as long as 100 years in a home without ever needing replacement.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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