PEX connections

Repair help for the do-it-yourselfer.
For mobile home parts, click here.

Moderators: Greg, Mark, mhrAJ333, JD

bobfather99
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:09 am
Location: Indiana

Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:03 am

Crimp is the only type of connections Ive ever worked with. Its great with no problems of any kind. However my neighbor moved away, taking with him the PEX tools I borrowed to take care of my plumbing.

The question is this...for future jobs, should I use crimps (and buy the tools)or any of the other forms of connections??? Theres quite a few out there: Crimp, clamp, sharkbite, Flair-it Pro, or the Watts system, etc.

Saw a couple youtube videos about the Watts system(white connectors) and I liked the ease of connections, but Im not sure how they work in the real world. Anyone have any experience with them or Flair-it Pro??
Tip your bartender.....


User avatar
Greg
Moderator
Posts: 5666
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:01 pm
Location: Weedsport, NY
Contact:

Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:35 am

The price of crimpers has dropped big time over the years. I bought a used set on craigslist for $25. that does from 3/8-1". Mark has the pocket crimper in the site's store, they work but are slow. If you only use them once in a while it may be a cheap out for you.

The pushlock type I have had issues with in the past, I did a water heater for a neighbor a few years ago and could not get it to stop dripping. I ended up with the old faithful crimp type connector.

Greg
"If I can't fix it, I can screw it up so bad no one else can either."

ponch37300
Posts: 622
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:12 pm
Location: wisconsin

Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:34 am

I'm with Greg on this one. I bought the crimpers years ago when the price was high but they have paid for themselves many times. I'm of the thinking if I can buy quality tools for less then hiring a plumbing then I spend the money on the tools. One call to a plumber is going to cost a minimum of a couple hundred dollars just to come out. My theory is to spend that couple hundred on the right tools. Then the next time you have the same problem the repair is almost free.

Pex crimpers are great. Also buy a good pex cutter so you can get a nice clean and square cut. A hacksaw will work but leaves burrs and other issues that you don't have to worry about with a pex cutter, plus they are fairly cheap. Also make sure you have a go/no go gauge for your crimper. Mine came with my crimper but they sell them seperate if the crimper you buy doesn't have one. I have personally never had a bad crimp, but I still check each one with the gauge just to make sure.

I have used sharkbites and they get a lot of good reviews online. I know there was some issues a while back with them but I think they changed the design or something and everything I have heard about them now a days is good. But because I have the crimp tools and a decent assortment of pex fittings I go with the old faithful crimping method. I like to do things right, not to say sharkbites are wrong, but I think all plumbers use pex crimps over sharkbites.

I don't have experience with your other options you listed. If by clamp you mean hose clamp then no don't do it. Hose clamps aren't made to work with pex, they are made for softer material that they can dig into like radiator hoses. Pex is harder and the clamps don't provide an even clamp around the whole pipe.

I just watched a video on the flair it pro you mentioned. I've never seen that system in any of the local stores. The one big advantage I see of this system is it says the fittings are the same size as the pex so it won't restrict flow of water. That is one thing I don't like about pex connectors is they are a good deal smaller than the pex and will restrict flow of water. For example you can't use 1/2" pex and fittings to plumb a bath/shower faucet. The fittings restrict flow enough that half the water will come out the shower head and hald will come out the tub faucet when you turn it to shower. I made this mistake once when fixing a shower faucet for a family member. I just used pex on everything to save some time and I couldn't get the shower head to work right. Did some reading and found out you're not supposed to use pex for shower heads. Switched to 1/2" copper and everything worked good.

bobfather99
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:09 am
Location: Indiana

Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:06 pm

The "clamp" method Im referring to is similar to the crimp method. It "pinches" the fitting tight instead of clamping the ring tighter, leaving a little "tab" sticking out.

Im all for buying the crimp tools and have no problem at all using that method. The main thing Id be looking for is leak free connections. :D
Tip your bartender.....

1987Commodore
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:53 pm
Location: Steuben County, NY

Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:28 pm

I have used the clamp method you describe quite successfully.


Steve-WA
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:04 am
Location: Western Washington, Puget Sound

Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:47 am

Don't use pex for tubs & showers? News to me; I always have.

jpingram5
Posts: 205
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:34 pm
Location: Orefield, PA
Contact:

Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:55 am

Crimp style works awesome. Use them all the time. I never heard of not using PEX to connect to your shower/tub. I know some plumbers will convert over to copper to give it rigidness.
2009 Skyline Sunwood Premier 14 x 80

User avatar
Greg
Moderator
Posts: 5666
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:01 pm
Location: Weedsport, NY
Contact:

Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:19 pm

If I remember correctly JD & I determined a few years back that the type of crimp is an East/West regional thing. Here in the East crimp rings seem to be more common, In the West the clamp ring is more common.

Greg
"If I can't fix it, I can screw it up so bad no one else can either."

ponch37300
Posts: 622
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:12 pm
Location: wisconsin

Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:31 am

Steve-WA wrote:Don't use pex for tubs & showers? News to me; I always have.
I put a new faucet in a tub/shower combo for a family member, in a stick built home but don't think that matters. I cut the copper supply lines and ripped the old faucet out. I put the new diverter, tub faucet, and shower head and ran pex between them. Turned it on and the tub worked great. Pulled up on the knob to send water to the shower head and half came out the shower head and half came out the tub faucet. I googled the issue and read I wasn't the first to have this problem. I ended up redoing things in copper and everything worked great.

The problem is the fittings for pex go inside so the step down in size restricts water flow. The water has to go somewhere if it can't all get out the shower head it comes out the tub faucet.

Here is a quick google search on "pex for shower problems", http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=n ... r+problems. Also if you look at shower diverters made for pex the will have pex fittings for the supply lines but for the line to the shower head they have a solder connection for copper pipe. Maybe it is a mobile home thing or maybe the shower faucets for mobile homes are different but for a normal tub/shower diverter you buy from the store they don't recomend pex between the diverter and the shower head.

bobfather99
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:09 am
Location: Indiana

Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:22 pm

I do like the fact that I have some experience with the crimp style. If I could use the Flair-It Pro, Watts, or snakebite fittings and get a GUARANTEED leak-free fit, Id consider using them. The Flair-it Pro looks so easy to put together, almost too easy.
Tip your bartender.....

hhb
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:14 pm

Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:18 pm

Here's my $0.02, as I just re-plumbed the whole home, and replaced copper with pex. At first I bought one of those cheap crimpers that need vice-grips to crimp with. It was on sale for under $20. Big mistake. Almost every crimp leaked. Then I broke down and bought the good crimpers, never had a problem since. I was even able to re-crimp the leaky crimps done with the cheap set and fix them. I figure I'll have this crimper forever now, so well worth the investment (I think it was $89 or so).

However, there were a couple of spots where I was hooking pex to copper, just because there wasn't a better choice. In these instances I used Watts connectors. When I first put them on, I thought "no way that will work, it was too easy" but they all did. I'm impressed with them. It was still cheaper to use crimps including buying the crimper for the rest of the job, but for the odd connection they work quite well. In fact, I was able to even take one off and re-use it with no problems (they advertise this).

As far as using pex to shower connections, I did to the hot & cold taps (separate on mine), but used existing copper from the taps to the shower head. However, the actual hole where the water comes out on my taps (the valve part) is tiny, maybe 1/8", so I doubt crimped pex would make any difference. I'm on a well, but my pressure is pretty good (42/62), so your mileage may vary.

bobfather99
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:09 am
Location: Indiana

Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:25 pm

I recently toured a friend's $400k house, and noticed while the PEX was mostly crimped to fittings, there were a few Watts fittings here and there.

Thank you all for your input. Please continue to post your good/bad experiences with different PEX connections. I keep driving by a 2/1 $1000 fixer up the street from me and the wheels keep turning in my head for a spring project.
Tip your bartender.....

User avatar
JD
Site Admin
Posts: 2690
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:57 pm
Location: Fresno, CA
Contact:

Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:09 pm

I have been using the stainless steel clamps in my business for about a dozen years now. I buy fittings in bulk from PexSupply.com and save a bunch of money. For individual use, you can still save money, but not much after shipping. On a whole house replumb it might be worth it.

After literally thousands of clamps, I have still not had one failure. Not one. I have put a bunch of fittings together and forgot a clamp, well maybe more than once. I have also clamped in hard to reach places under the home and missed with the clamp or tool, but always caught those before moving on. But not one failure on a correct clamp. The tool must be calibrated correctly which is easy to do.

So I like SS clamps. But I feel crimps and ProPex expanding fittings would give you equal results. I originally chose the SS clamp sytem because of the many years of polybutylene (gray pipe) with copper crimp system used on mobile homes. That whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. I did not have a lot of failures personally, but there was so much bad press about it and I was repairing and still am repairing tons of bad pb connections. The expanding type fittings have always been good as best as I can tell, but when I first started using pex, the whole idea of the pipe squeezing on to itself did not sound good to me. Years later, I can see that my fears were unwarranted. So I would say crimp, clamp and expanding are all good choices.

I still like my SS clamp better though. I use an Apollo clamp tool which is a small one handed ratchet tool that gets into tight places. One tool for all sizes from 3/8" to 1". It even has an led light that lights up when the correct tightness is achieved. I like that. It took about 7-8 years to wear out my first tool and the light was still working fine with the original battery. I don't even know where the battery would be on the tool.

I have never had a water flow problem on a bathroom faucet due to pex. I don't know anything about a problem there. The fitting does seriously cut down on the inside diameter, but again, never noticed a problem on my installs and never a complaint from a customer. There is a clamp/crimp shower head dog-ear fitting. The dog ear makes the gooseneck for the shower head very stout and stable.

I only use sharkbites for temporary connections and when I absolutely have to on permanent connections. I have not had problems with sharkbites but keep in mind that you are dependent on a smooth clean surface on the pipes you are connecting. I won't use Watts because they sometimes failed back in the old PB pipe days and they look like the same fittings to me now. I will do copper when a customer insists, but I feel pex is a better system, especially here in Central California where there is a lot of minerals in the water. It is common for copper to pit here after years of use.

JMHO
☯JD♫
Today is PERFECT!

All information and advice given is for entertainment and informational purposes only. The person doing the work is solely responsible to insure that their work complies with their local building code and OSHA safety regulations.

bobfather99
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:09 am
Location: Indiana

Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:36 pm

I did see the PEX crimp starter kit on pexsupply.com, which looks like a good deal to me. PEX tubing, crimp rings, fittings, and the crimp tool for $340. Probably more than enough tubing and parts to replumb most mobile homes out there. I might look into that if need be, while on the lookout for a better type of connection if one exists in the future.
Tip your bartender.....

User avatar
JD
Site Admin
Posts: 2690
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:57 pm
Location: Fresno, CA
Contact:

Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:22 pm

This is the tool I use. I like the one-handed operation, especially when working from underneath. Got it at Lowe's for around 60 bucks. I think they may be phasing out this specific brand and replacing it with a $90 Kobalt copy. They look like the same tools to me, but I guess the blue handles are worth an additional $30. :/

If you want to do a total replumb, buying fittings and rings from PexSupply.com could save some money, whether it is clamp or crimp. I have ordered from them many times and delivery is prompt and without issues.
Attachments
pex clamp tool 1.jpg
pex clamp tool 1.jpg (31.74 KiB) Viewed 5111 times
☯JD♫
Today is PERFECT!

All information and advice given is for entertainment and informational purposes only. The person doing the work is solely responsible to insure that their work complies with their local building code and OSHA safety regulations.

Locked