How to remove PEX clamps with and without a tool or screwdriver (AVOID Doing this!)

PEX clamps keep the PEX fitting in their place. This connects the water pipes properly and avoids leaks. If there is a leak or you want to adjust the system, we are going to have to remove these clamps so that we can work on the fitting.

Let’s take a look at how this is done. There are some specialized tools that make it easy to remove PEX clamps.


Turn the water supply off

The first step is to turn off the water supply. This is typically done by turning a valve. Sometimes there is one nearby where you have to work. Other times there is none and you have to turn off the water supply of the house.

Water is under a lot of pressure and you can get a lot of water damage if you skip this step. PEX often has a manifold where the pipes come together. Often there is a valve that allows you to turn off the water supply. Newer systems often have a valve for each pipe whereas older systems only have one for the whole manifold. 

Drain the water from the pipes

Open up all the faucets so that the water that is in the pipes flows out of it. Some water will stay in the pipes so get some buckets and towels so that you can catch this once you open the PEX clamps.

Holding the pipe in the air also stops the water but it is important to be prepared for water flowing out of your pipes as this can damage your floors or furniture.

Open up metal PEX clamps: with and without a tool or screwdriver.

There are 3 ways to open up the PEX clamps if it is made out of metal. The best approach depends on the type of clamp that you have.

1/ You can use a screwdriver to open up the pry band. 

2/ Use pincers to take the end of the band and open it up. 

Both methods work well. The one you should pick often depends on how the PEX is installed. It is attached to a wall and this can make it harder to reach it. Don’t force the pipe as you can break it in other places. PEX is quite fragile so don’t lean on it.

For this reason, if the pry band is the closest, you can use your screwdriver. If the end of the band is accessible, you can open the band up.

3/ Get a cinch tool that has a removal function. They have a blade that allows you to cut through the clamp. This makes it easier to remove.

You can remove the metal piece that attaches your pipe to the wall with a screwdriver to make it easier to reach the clamp.

If these methods don’t work for you, there is another approach but this one leads to more damage so it should only be used when the previous solutions don’t work. You can use a PEX cutter and cut a piece of PEX just before and just after the clamp. Water will come out of the pipes when you do this so be prepared to catch it!

Open up a plastic PEX clamps.

A cinch tool can be used to remove a plastic PEX clamp as well. Make sure that you don’t damage the fitting when you do this. Once we have removed the clamp, we still have to remove the pipe. The best way to remove the pipe is to use a heating torch to remove it as a knife can scratch the fitting.

You can then add a piece of PEX and two fittings to repair it. This is not ideal as you introduce a weak point in your installation but it can work. Don’t forget to use your calibration tool so that your PEX pipe is round as this can disturb the water flow. 

We can reuse the fitting if it hasn’t been damaged. These types of clamps are typically used for PEX-B systems. PEX-A uses other fittings (or connectors).

Install a new fitting or clamp

If you don’t see any damage, you can consider reusing the fitting and adding a new clamp. Check the instructions of the manufacturer of the PEX system that you are using to check if this is allowed. Fittings cost quite a lot of money so it is always interesting to reuse them if you can. If there is damage, you will have to attach a new part of PEX pipe.

Make sure that the clamp is in the right position. To attach the clamp, we are going to use the clinching tool. Check that you use enough pressure so that the clamp is properly closed. You will hear a pop and can check with the measuring tool if it is OK. Wear protective equipment when you do this.

Test the new connection

Doing a water pressure test is the final step. You can do this to make sure that the new connection doesn’t leak. This is essential as small leaks can create a lot of damage. Let the water flow for a few minutes to check that no water is dripping around the fitting.

Make sure that you don’t mix PEX-A and PEX-B fittings as each system has its own tools and materials. In some instances an inspector will have to check your work.

Open up the water valve

Once you have repaired the connection, it is time to open the water valve again. Check if everything works as you want and clean everything up. It can be a great moment to check if there are other fittings that give problems as you have your tools with you.

PEX systems can start to break down after 15-20 years so if you start having problems, it can be a great idea to replace a part of the installation. Leaks can lead to a lot of damage and should be avoided at all costs. 

To conclude, we can state that removing a PEX clamp is quite straightforward. You just need pincers or a screwdriver for metal clamps. If you have plastic clamps, you will have to cut the pipe open to remove them.

Make sure that the water supply is cut and that you remove the water from the pipe before doing this. Use the right fittings for your system to complete the installation. Make sure that they are inserted deep enough and that the clamps are tight enough. This ensures that the water doesn’t drip out of the pipes. Be sure to test the connection before you open the water supply.  

We have discussed how to remove a PEX Sharkbite here. All of these things are quite easy to do and make it quite fun to work with this material.

PEX clamps have to be installed correctly. Luckily, it is quite easy to fix problem and update the installation if needed.