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Old 10-21-2013, 11:05 PM   #1
Nukedaddy
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Default Best PEX system?

I am coming back to the plumbing industry after 15 years in Nuclear Power. There have been a few changes. PEX seems to be the #1 potable water material but I have a few questions before I commit to a specific "brand".

Are the "insert" types of fittings compatible? For example, will a "Sharkbite" insert coupling work if crimped with a Nibco ring? If the tubing is the same for all brands under the ASTM standard, should not all the fittings work as well?

Are there any known incompatibilities between fitting brands? Are there any known issues between brands of tubing and fittings?

Are there issues known about OD fittings (push-on)? Is the tubing OD controlled or ID controlled or both during manufacturing?

What is your (everyone's) favorite line of PEX tube and fittings for potable water?

Some codes (like Illinois) are rather picky about using insert fittings for potable water. (The assumption is that the reduced ID of the fittings might starve fixture supply.) Does anyone oversize branch supply line sizes to compensate? Also, the resilience of PEX should likely make the use of air chambers and shock arresters no longer necessary, true?

Thanks for taking the time to share your recent experiences and knowledge.



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Old 11-10-2013, 03:11 AM   #2
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As far as pex is concerned, any product is the same. I've used zurn and viega myself. I would stay away from shark bite brand myself. Just never used the stuff.

I do like the sharkbite fittings only for spots with no access.



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Old 11-10-2013, 10:46 PM   #3
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I am moving towards PEX and away from CPVC myself, so I have done a bit of research on this very subject.

The general trend in my area is towards Wirsbo Uponor PEX, with the expansion system. The Uponor expansion system has a couple of attractive advantages. First, there are no crimp rings, no need to worry about crimp tool adjustment, forgetting to crimp a ring, gauging a crimp, etc. Also, the ID of the fitting is larger than crimp, as the pipe is stretched to slide over the fitting. So at first impression, this should allow more volume, flow, and pressure at the fixture. Also, the fitting are plastic, which should eliminate metal corrosion and fatigue as possible failure points. Also, the tools to make an expansion joint are expensive and not available in the average hardware store.

Cons that I have identified. The fittings are plastic, and we all know how well that worked out with polybutylene pipe using plastic fittings. Crimp fittings can be pressurized to full test pressure immediately, whereas expansion fittings need some time for the pipe to shrink back and make a good seal against the fitting. Fittings are not nearly as available as are crimp fittings, so when you are in the middle of a repipe on a Saturday, and you find that you are fresh out of 3/4" x 1/2" tees, you will still have to settle for a crimp connection tee from the nearest Home Depot. Also, the tools to make an expansion connection are expensive, and not readily available.

Crimp fittings are available everywhere, work with any kind of PEX pipe, including Wirsbo, can be pressurized immediately, can be mixed and matched between different brands of pipe, fittings, and rings, are really quick to install, and the tools to install them are readily available at a reasonable price. Crimp fittings seem to have withstood the test of time, and I have only been able to find one case of a crimp fitting failing. It appears that the water chemistry attacked the brass crimp tee, and the tee broke apart. Note that I am not including the rather well known and spectacular dezincification problems that have been noted with some area's water.

Cons include the fact that the tools, rings, and fittings are widely available. Also, the fittings are metal, and therefore are prone to failure if the local water is really aggressive. And, since the fittings fit inside the standard ID of the pipe, they will tend to reduce flow. It can also be a bit of a pain to get crimpers in tight spots, or certain crimpers close to certain fittings.

I have managed to find accounts and pictures of exactly one crimp fitting failure (minus dezincification failures) and exactly one plastic expansion fitting failure.

PEX pipe itself is a different story, there are well documented cases of the pipe itself failing for no good reason. This does appear to be limited to certain brands and manufacture dates of piping, so I think in general it is a good system.

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Old 11-11-2013, 03:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phishfood
Cons include the fact that the tools, rings, and fittings are widely available. Also, the fittings are metal, and therefore are prone to failure if the local water is really aggressive. And, since the fittings fit inside the standard ID of the pipe, they will tend to reduce flow. It can also be a bit of a pain to get crimpers in tight spots, or certain crimpers close to certain fittings. I have managed to find accounts and pictures of exactly one crimp fitting failure (minus dezincification failures) and exactly one plastic expansion fitting failure. PEX pipe itself is a different story, there are well documented cases of the pipe itself failing for no good reason. This does appear to be limited to certain brands and manufacture dates of piping, so I think in general it is a good system.
I have seen plenty of rings fail over the years, the stainless steel cinch rings either bust when tightening them too fast, or if your tool is not calibrated correct it won't close them tight enough to seal properly. The copper ring style have the same calibration issue plus they take more time to remove. Up honor wirsbo with the expanding ring take time to close after doing a joint, but is nice that it can go upto at least 1-1/2" pipe and fittings.

Every system has its issues, Kytec was a wonderful pex product until it got pulled. The nice thing about pex it will expand a little in cold weather unlike most metal piping systems.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:52 PM   #5
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I wasn't even including the cinch ring system, I took one look at those and thought "Really? You have GOT to be kidding me."

The calibration issue can be a concern, but if you are gauging finished crimps on a regular basis, you should catch it before the tool gets way out. One thing that I see with the expansion system is the size of the completed joint. What with the double thickness of pipe, and the larger fitting, there would be no way that would fit in the 3/4" space that is common between exterior block walls and drywall that is so common in my area. The crimp fitting snugs in there quite nicely.

BTW, send Chris or Austin a PM, they can let you into the Professional section of the forum.



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