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Thread: Anyone familiar with Pex tube and connectors?

  1. #1
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    Anyone familiar with Pex tube and connectors?

    Iím looking at replacing the old copper lines that were buried directly into the concrete when our house was built. Iím curious about the crimping/clamping tools. The environment here is pretty corrosive being next to a the ocean so the copper ring crimps are probably not the best bet.
    Thereís going to be a lot of concrete cutting and trenching to get this done so Iím not looking to scrimp on the parts and tools to get it done right. Appreciate any insight from you guys that have experience. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Pex A is your friend. It's the system that expands rather than crimps. You'll need an expander, Milwaukee and Dewalt make one. Upanor/Wirsboro is the original developer.

    You can expand Pex A or crimp it, it's more flexible. Pex B and C are crimp only. I finished a full replumb in a house yesterday actually, all Pex A, no drama, no leaks. Good stuff.


  3. #3
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    I would not put any type of connectors buried in concrete. I'd use home runs to a manifold that is accessible.

    Better yet would be plastic conduit to pull it through. I have done that in really old houses.

  4. #4
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    I was thinking about using conduit, would the stuff for electrical work that have long sweeps be the way to go?

  5. #5
    10-4 on everything. Home runs, no joints anywhere except at terminations thats one of the key advantages PEX in the first place. I have never had a need for an elbow or a tee. I dont even know why they sell them. The Pex A with the expander Steve shows is by far the best all plastic option. I am not however a fan of the plastic fittings but in a corrosive environment and only dealing with terminations its less of an issue.

    Your other alternative is the Oetiker style clamps that are stainless steel. There may always be exceptions but with a little planning you should only have two terminations per run.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Fish View Post
    I¬’m looking at replacing the old copper lines that were buried directly into the concrete when our house was built. I¬’m curious about the crimping/clamping tools.!
    I agree with the idea of not having buried fittings, but if you must join PEX to an existing buried copper line, a fitting can't be avoided.

    If you must bury a brass fitting, the Sharkbite website says their brass fittings shoud be wrapped in self adhesive silicone tape before burial. This applies to their brass fittings made for crimp and clench rings, not just to their famous push-on fittings. So I suspect that any brand of brass fitting should be wrapped if buried.

    I haven't used the plastic expander rings, but I wanted to. In my location they are not sold in stores - plus I think the fittings used with those plastic rings are different than the fittings used with clench clamps and crimp rings - so the fittings aren't locally available either. Of course, you can order the tools and equipment for the plastic rings online if you can tolerate the time delay for them to be delivered.

    My understanding is that the plastic rings are to be used with "type A" PEX. In my location, I couldn't find 1 inch type A PEX in local stores. I recommend using type A PEX with whatever fitting system you choose because "type B" PEX is stiff and hard to work with. I didn't find 1 inch type A PEX in stock locally, but was able to buy it as a "special order".

    In trenching through the concrete slab of a house to replace a leaking sewer line, the 1958 vintage copper water line was exposed under the slab ('under", not "in") so I replaced it. First I put down a 2 inch PVC line and then threaded 1 inch type A PEX through it. I hope the PEX line will never need replacing, but if it does, I think a new line can be threaded through the PVC without trenching into the slab again.

    I used the clench clamp system. My observations on that method: Half inch clamps are easy to close with the hand tools sold for that purpose, but closing 1 inch clench clamps with a hand tool requires extreme force. A hand tool is difficult to use when you must reach down into a trench to make a connection. On 1 inch clench clamps in a shallow trench, I used my foot to press against one handle of the tool while the other handle was supported by a board! After that experience, I bought a Ryobi cordless clench tool. If you use the clench system, get tools for undoing the clench clamps because it's easy to mangle a connection. It's possible to remove 1 inch clench clamps by grinding off the tiny locking tab with a Dremel-type tool and then prying up the free end of the clamp with a chisel or thin screwdriver. A tool that cuts off the clinch tab works faster. Pulling the PEX off the connector usually requires applying a heat gun for few seconds. When you install a clamp, try to place the free end where it will be accessible should you need to remove the clamp.
    Last edited by Stephen Tashiro; 09-19-2019 at 12:36 PM.

  7. #7
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    I didn't have a slab to deal with, as we have a "full" basement. Even then, though it takes more material, I installed a home run system when we gutted our home. I liked the idea of no connections hidden in a wall somewhere inaccessible. We used the clench clamps. Yes, it takes some force, but we were able to do 1/2",3/4"and 1" pipe with a manual tool. No drama, no leaks when initially pressurized and I can shut off any line in the house without affecting others.

  8. #8
    If anyone buries a shark bite fitting in a wall or a slab or any other concealed in accessible location they need their head examined I dont care what the manufacturer says. All that's between you and devistation is an O ring and a flimsy stainless grab.

    I've seen way too many orings turn to play doh to ever trust my customers home to a shark bite. Same reason I dont use flexible closet and sink supplies.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Fish View Post
    I was thinking about using conduit, would the stuff for electrical work that have long sweeps be the way to go?
    That's what I used in the old house. It's been so long ago, that I don't remember the size of the conduit, but I think 1-1/2. We still used home runs to a manifold. It was very little trouble pulling the PEX through several of the bends.

  10. #10
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    Note PEX is tubing so 3/4 pex is only equal to 1/2 pipe for the internal diameter.
    Bill D.

  11. #11
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    Ok so Iím thinking of going with the Dewalt(20 volt) expansion tool because it looks like their kit comes with three heads and the Milwaukee(18 volt) doesnít seem to come with any. Also Iíve had pretty good luck with their cordless stuff in the past, not much experience with Milwaukee cordless. Feel free to persuade me otherwise or maybe thereís another manufacturer I should look at?

    My only other question would be concerning the stub outs. I would prefer something more rigid than the pex to hold escutcheon plates and shut off valves. Is there a way to get the pex held nice and straight coming out of the walls without being overly sloppy ? Walls will be tile over dura-rock if that matters.

    Iím thankful for the comments so far, much thanks

  12. #12
    I like to use the copper stub outs, like these: https://www.supplyhouse.com/Wirsbo-U...pper-3-1-2-x-8
    They let you use conventional escutcheons and 1/4 turn shut-offs.

    You can also use a bend support to hold the pex in alignment. Here's one example: https://www.supplyhouse.com/Sioux-Ch...t-w-Nail-Plate
    You can get escutcheons sized for Pex tubing.

    edit: my milwaukee expansion tool came with 1/2, 3/4, and 1 inch cones, but it may have been a kit, not just the tool. Haven't tried the dewalt, but I'm sure it's fine. The milwaukee has auto-rotate, which spins the pex (or, more usually, the tool) a slight amount after each expansion cycle so you don't have to do it manually. Convenient, but no biggie either way.
    Last edited by Paul F Franklin; 09-20-2019 at 8:31 AM.

  13. #13
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    I have one little crimper that will work when the handled type won't fit. It's a little machined block of steel, with two bolts that tighten the two halves together. Mine is smaller than the one in the link below, but works the same way. The one I have does 1/2" on one side, and turn the halves around to crimp 3/4". I've had it so long that I couldn't remember who made it, but found this one that looks very similar.

    Copy, and paste this in the search box on ebay: 3/8", 1/2", 3/4", 1" Compact Pex Tool crimper, USA Made

  14. #14
    We always used standard copper stubouts, crimped connection, soldered into holdrite straps but if you dont want the copper for corrosion there are several suppliers of 90 degree tube supports and thru wall sleeves that get your tubing stubbing out prettys straight. Not sure how the terminations with your expander will play with any escutcheons and valves but there are options out there.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    Note PEX is tubing so 3/4 pex is only equal to 1/2 pipe for the internal diameter.
    Bill D.
    You have to remember though that conventional wisdom with regards to run/tubing size no longer applies if you run PEX the way its suppose to be run. A bigger line is not better when you are home run from a manifold. We have run 1/2" PEX home run manifolded with legs to fixtures that are well over 100' of tubing away from the manifold and if you run 3/4" thinking its better you will be waiting an eternity for hot water and wasting tons of water which is the point of manifolded home runs. Saves water, saves hot water, and delivery to the fixture is far faster.

    Smaller is better
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

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