PEX Sharkbite Vs. Crimp – How Do They Compare?

You are working on PEX pipes for your plumbing remodeling project. Now, you are wondering which fittings to choose, the Sharkbite push-fit or the crimp ring. Don’t let this bother you! We have researched these options to help you make an informed choice.

Sharkbite is better than crimp in the following aspects:

  • Ease of installation; preferred by DIYers 
  • Easy to work even in tight spaces
  • For temporary plumbing fixes
  • Reusability; detach without any damage
  • Best for pressurized applications
  • Withstand low temperatures

On the contrary, the crimp is better than Sharkbite in these aspects:

  • Universal application; widely used in most plumbing connections
  • Long-term reliability since it is heat-resistant and anti-corrosive
  • For permanent plumbing fixes
  • Cheaper and recommended for big plumbing projects

Both Sharkbite and crimp are known to make excellent fittings and connectors for your PEX pipes for your home’s plumbing. But each has unique features that cater to the specific requirements for different projects. Let’s tackle in greater detail their similarities and differences. Please, stay with us as we discuss the basics you need to know.

A comparison of PEX sharkbite and crimp, PEX Sharkbite Vs. Crimp - How Do They Compare?

Comparing Sharkbite and Crimp

Sharkbite and crimp are the two connectors and fittings for PEX pipes. Both are widely used for household plumbing and are equally efficient in preventing leaks. However, each type has unique benefits for specific tasks. Let’s review a comparison:

Joining Mechanism

Sharkbite is the brand for two-piece fittings. The seal is extremely tight when you press the pipe against the fitting. It is even much stronger than a regular compression. This is made possible by the small teeth inside the fitting that gives a much stronger fit.

Sharkbite is also referred to as push-fit, push-to-connect, or stab-in fittings. It simply means you apply a ‘push’ force by hand to create a watertight union in a matter of seconds. 

Sharkbite is a US-made brand; thus, you are assured of the highest manufacturing quality standards. Industry experts recommend this since it complies with the plumbing standards for commercial and residential applications. The fittings are made of brass material and are evenly colored. 

Check out these Sharkbite connectors in Amazon.

For crimp style, the PEX pipe is fitted into the crimp-ring fitting. Copper or stainless steel rings are crimped or tightened over the pipe using a crimping tool.

Crimp ring fittings are also made of brass. This type is characterized by a sequence of rings or grooves at the connecting spot. These grooves enable the crimp to fasten tightly.  You can purchase a combination of connectors consisting of elbows, tees, and couplings with the specified diameter, such as a half-inch.

Check out this combo set of crimp fittings in Amazon.

Advantages of Sharkbite

  • During installation, no tools are needed, nor is any soldering or gluing done.
  • Easier to install, especially if you are working in tight spaces.
  • Installation time is less due to the simple process involved.
  • Fittings can be detached and reused with no damage.
  • Best for temporary plumbing fixes since the teeth inside the fitting wears down earlier.
  • The fitting material is lead-free, making it safe for potable water lines. 
  • Widely used for pressurized applications such as the main water lines of your home.
  • It can withstand low temperatures since it is used to hose cold water into your refrigerators and freezers.
  • There is no pressure loss since you can have multiple fittings in one line.
  • Most preferred by DIYers and novices in plumbing due to its ease of installation.

Disadvantages of Sharkbite

  • There are only specific uses, as previously mentioned. It may not be useful with other applications.
  • There are issues with its long-term reliability since leaks happen after some time.
  • Since it requires applying force by hand to install, there is a tendency for personal injury, or the fittings could be damaged.
  • It is the most expensive among all pipe fittings and connectors, thus not advisable for large projects.

Advantages of Crimp

  • Uses are universal, it can be used in most plumbing connections.
  • Uses copper or stainless steel rings, which are resistant to rust, heat, and corrosion.
  • There is long-term reliability, hence, used for permanent plumbing fixes.
  • Recommended for large plumbing projects, even if you have to invest in a crimp tool.

Disadvantages of Crimp

  • A crimping tool is needed to complete the installation. This may require an upfront investment in the tool, which is expensive.
  • You need to purchase specific copper rings for different diameters of the pipes.
  • Installation time may take longer.
  • It cannot bend, so you must purchase different connectors for specific tasks. 
  • Requires a great deal of force to detach the rings.
  • Cannot be reused; once detached, they are deformed and lose their functionality.
  • Hard to work in tight spaces since crimping needs more clearance to work on.

A recommended crimp tool is a ratchet and self-releasing type to make a complete crimp. It is easy to switch and remove the ring, and no tool calibration is needed. Since it also works as a removal tool, you don't need to buy a separate device.

Check out this crimp tool on Amazon.

You might be interested to read about a related topic on how clamps differ from crimp tools: "5 Types Of Clamps For All Your DIY Needs."

Why Choose PEX Pipes?

New home construction with PEX Plumbing pipes and exposed beams

PEX is made of cross-linked high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This type of piping is mainly used for the water supply lines in many homes. That said, you would expect the pipe’s rigidity against the high pressure of water coming from the city’s water line.

Another use of PEX pipes is in radiant heating and cooling systems. It is super-strong to withstand temperatures below 32 to upwards of 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

PEX pipes have become the preferred choice among contractors, whether installing a new plumbing setup, making repairs or upgrading to a new plumbing setup. And similarly, even DIYers have also resorted to PEX for home improvements due to its remarkable features:

Rigid and Flexible

The pipe is made of rigid plastic that can withstand pressure. Despite its toughness, the pipe is highly flexible and malleable. You can maneuver and weave it without significant adjustments through tight spaces between walls, ceilings, crawl spaces, and the basement.

PEX is also corrosion-resistant and will not develop pinholes. Hence, the possibility of leaking is slim.

For more information on PEX materials, read: "Can Rodents Chew Through PEX?"

Easy to Work On

Working with PEX pipes is more manageable than other types since fewer connections and fittings are required. Installation gets completed in less time. A few turns can quickly cut the pipe using a rotating cutter with a razor blade. No expensive and complicated tools are needed.

You can bend the pipe quickly. The half-inch diameter pipe can make a 5-inch radius turn with no heat applied. No radius support is needed for straight runs, though there is minimal displacement or wiggle room.

Since the pipe could be easily bent, it paves for easy storage when not in use. If you have an excess after completing your project or setting it aside for future use, you can roll the pipe to save space in your garage and other storage areas.

Relatively Cheap

If you compare it with other piping materials, such as copper, galvanized steel, and ABS, PEX pipes are the winner from a cost perspective. This is because plastic material is relatively cheap compared to bulk copper and rigid steel.

Also, since fewer fittings are needed, this translates to lower costs in terms of labor and materials. You don’t even need the services of a plumber. It can be your DIY project, thus lowering the total project cost.

Commercially Available

You would not have difficulty finding PEX pipes in the hardware, Home Depot, DIY shops, and plumbing supply establishments. These pipes are typically color-coded, aiding installation and future repairs. Red is for hot water, blue is for cold water, and white is for any temperature. They come in half-inch and three-fourth-inch diameters.

Pipefitter install system of underfloor heating system at home

Why Do PEX Fittings Leak?

Plumber crimping PEX connection

You might encounter someday that there are leaks in your PEX fittings. 

The most common culprit is that the fittings are not installed correctly. Remember, the Sharkbite fitting uses human force to push it to the pipes. Human intervention isn't foolproof. There is a chance that the direction of the force might be slightly angled, causing a faulty compression of the teeth inside.  This condition may cause a leak.

Also, some fittings sold on the market use zinc plating. This material builds residue while water is flowing. This condition may also cause leaks.

In the case of crimp fittings, the pressure applied during the crimping operation may not be adequate. This creates a loose connection in just a short time, thus creating leaks.

Final Thoughts

Comparison of PEX sharkbite and crimp

Comparing Sharkbite and crimp are excellent fittings for your plumbing needs. It entirely depends on personal preferences to meet the user's specific requirements.

Due to its easy installation, DIYers and novices still prefer Sharkbite, despite its high cost. They find it compatible with their amateur skills since it doesn't require complicated connection techniques. A reliable brand with a straightforward installation.

Professionals and certified plumbers choose crimp ring fittings due to their long-term reliability and wide application. After all, the total project cost would still be cheaper despite investing in a crimp tool.

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