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Installing PEX in sub-zero temperatures

steveg Member Posts: 16
I am being asked by a contractor to write a note to his GC about the ambient temperature requirements for installing PEX tubing. The contractor is in Northern Canada and last winter the GC provided a heated space (0-5F) for the contractor. This year the GC said it was too expensive to provide the heat. I know the tubing can be installed in cold temperatures but how cold is cold.


  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,004
    anything below 72F

    is cold for me.

    In cold weather we would prop the coil of pex up in front of an LP salamander heater. Then work really fast. Get then tube rolled out, just fasten the ends while it is warm. Then fill in the rest of the ties after the tube cools off.

    One manufacturer, EHT i think offered a heated pex un-coiler.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • EricAune
    EricAune Member Posts: 432
    GC doesn't consider the cost of business?

    Safety is also a consideration at temps that low. I speak from experience, here in MN we often work at or below zero.

    Air temps that cold invite injury from many angles. Whether the GC provides it or not, the contractor should consider having some heat for his guys.

    I have never had any problems with PEX cracking/failing at low temperatures but that may be luck.  I will say that the colder it gets the harder it is to install.  Only the manufacturer can say what temp is considered too low for handling their product. 

    Does this contractor use any solvent weld glues? The label on the can will definitely state at which temperatures it must be protected from. That may be the route the contractor should go.
    "If you don't like change, your going to like irrelevance even less"
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Frazier Colorado....

    Once known as the ice box of the nation when Dwight Eisenhower use to go up and go fishing and hunting with a friend of mine. I had a crew working up there for the same type of contractor. His saying was "YOU are providing the heat. The sooner you get done, the sooner you get heat!" The standing joke was Its SO cold up there that you WILL Frazier (insert appendage here) off.... :-)

    What a PITA...

    Anyway, my guys were trying to lay Watts PEX, which is stiffer than most other tubing already. Occasionally, the stapler would mis fire, as they are prone to doing, and when the hammer blade hit the tube, it was so cold that it shattered like glass...

    In reading the manufacturers warranty, they said that it should not be installed at temperatures below 32 degrees F or something like that. Now THAT will throw a crimp in your work schedule. Especially in the northern climes...

    Check with the tubing manufacturer, and if warranty is affected, maybe you can use that as an incentive to the GC to get heat in there.

    My friend from Germany said that they had a device way back when that was a part of the tubing un-coiler that forced warm air through the inside of the tube to keep it warm and pliable.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
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