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Pex connection methods and tools

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Mushroom Man, Mar 15, 2009.

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  1. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    Plumbing... it's all taking longer than I anticipated.

    I've employed the 2 steps forward, 1 step back method of black pipe fitting. It has been an education.

    The black pipe boiler loop and primary loop are finally plumbed and it's time to start on the 6 zones (house, storage, mushrooms-greenhouse, machine shed, sand filter). There is no great rush now that the heating season has run its course, but at the pace that I have managed so far, I'll be lucky to get it all running by the next heating season.

    I have Pex-AL pex tubing in good supply but I have no fittings, no crimper, no cutter. With Pex there are several connection systems and I find it a bit confusing. People talk about copper rings, stainless steel connectors (SSC), Kitec connectors (rare find here in my part of Canada), Viega, Wirsbo and more.

    The SSC are inexpensive online and the crimper isn't too bad either. Will this system work with Pex-AL pex or do I have to source some proprietary system.

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  2. foxt

    foxt New Member

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    With pex-al-pex you can use compression fittings. I don't know what size pex you are using, but I believe you can go at least to 1-1/4" with them. Here's an example for 1" : compression fitting


    Tom
  3. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    I hope that is not my only option. It could get awfully expensive.
  4. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Tim,

    What size pex-al-pex are you using? What are you connecting the pex-al-pex too?

    Don
  5. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    Hi Don

    1. Two 3/4" Pex-AL pex loops in parallel from a 1" black pipe T , to a black pipe T at the storage tank and back. So there are 4 lines between the tank and the primary.

    2. One 1" pex loop to the DHW and plenum from a 1" BP nipple.

    The other loops would be variations on these two themes.
  6. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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  7. jdeere5220

    jdeere5220 New Member

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    I decided to use the stainless crimp rings and crimper tool. The reason was that I can do all sizes with this one tool, so for $88 I have a tool that I will hopefully be able to use for years. With the copper/brass rings, you need a specific tool for each size.

    It's been working fine, very simple actually, never had a leak. So unless they stop making these crimp rings, I think this is as good as anything.
  8. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    Jdeere:
    Did you use the stainless steel clamps with Pex-AL pex or regular pex?
    Did you have a particular brand of connection fittings (adapters, barbs etc.)?
    How long have you had the connections?
  9. jdeere5220

    jdeere5220 New Member

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    I'm using regular Wisbro oxy-barrier PEX. I use whatever barb fittings I can get at Lowes or Home Depot, don't recall the brand. The crimp-down rings seem pretty tolerant of size differences, i.e. the barb fittings do seem awfully loose to me sometimes, I think it's different manufacturers have different wall thickness possibly, there seems to be some variation. Regardless even when the fittings are a little sloppy the stainless crimp-down rings tighten down.

    I've only been using this system for a few months. So far I've used both 1" and 3/4" PEX and fittings. I went this way because this was what my dealer was using, and he's had good luck with this for a few years.

    Did you hear about a problem with these rings longevity?
  10. jdeere5220

    jdeere5220 New Member

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    Just for clarity, the rings I'm using are like little hose clamps, except they don't have a screw to tighten. They have tab that sticks out, and the crimper tool basically mashes this tab together to tighten down the ring. There is a notch in the crimper tool that the tab goes into. It's very simple.

    Anyway like you said there is lots of different types of rings out there so I wanted to be clear about what I'm using. I've seen other similar stainless rings that reguire a completely different type of tool. These rings come 10 in a bag at Lowes.
  11. Tarmsolo60

    Tarmsolo60 Feeling the Heat

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    Can you use a crimp on al-pex? I have and uponor expander tool for regular pex and have used compression fittings on al-pex.
  12. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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    Note: All Pex is not made to the same dimensions. Therefore when selecting the proper fitting you must match the fitting to the specific brand of pex. I spent many frustrating hours trying to find appropriate fittings for 1 1/4" Rehau pex. The only fittings I could find that would fit required a specialized crimping tool with a cost of about a billion dollars. In the end I found that I could use ordinary cheap 1 inch barb fittings from Home Depot with a couple of clamps. Worked out great. For Pex-al_Pex I used the Kitex K1 mpt and fpt and found they worked well.
  13. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    There are options it seems. Sounds like specialized Kitec fittings are one option and SSC is another.

    Jdeere:
    No I have not heard about any longevity issues associated with stainless steel clamps.

    I'll have to be careful with the ID of the Pex-AL pex and the fittings. Thanks for the heads up Don

    Time to start shopping around for fittings I suppose.

    I got a kick out of Don's comment about the billion dollar crimp tool. Perhaps it had an AIG label. Everything they touch turns to gold (lose money, public sector bailout, wahoo!!! ... Bonus)
  14. 8nrider

    8nrider New Member

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    has anyone tried these shark bite fittings??? i used some a few weeks ago on coppper to pex for a shower. wow easy ???
  15. mtfallsmikey

    mtfallsmikey New Member

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    I used all Sharkbite except the circ mounting, valves at the boiler, etc. (black), no problems.
  16. SteveGH

    SteveGH Member

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    Are Shark bite fittings the same as barbed fittings? I've used the Shark bite, or whatever Lowe's calls there supplier, but I'm not familiar with the clamps that DonL mentioned. Talk about easy. I too was concerned about the sloppiness of the connections but still no leaks. Definitely looks better than my solder joints.
  17. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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    The ones I am referring to are the barbed ones normally used to connect plastic pipe to your well pump etc. I used the 1 inch fittings to connect 1 inch black pipe (NTP) to the 1 1/4" Rehau pex pipe I have. Worked great!! It was a real nightmare trying to find the proper fittings for Rehau Pex. Very expensive fittings and tools to do the job (Everloc)?. In the end it cost me less than $35.00 to do the eight connections I needed to make.
  18. mtfallsmikey

    mtfallsmikey New Member

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    No...they are slip-on, with O-rings and stainless grip rings, can be removed with a dismounting tool, which is horseshoe-shaped. Lowe's sells similar fittings under the name Viper,but I had a problem with them seating properly..Sharkbite, which is made by Cash-Acme, is available at HD. another variation is made by Elkhart called Tek-Tite, sold at Ferguson Enterprises.
  19. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    I asked my local plumbing supply company what to use. They did not have the proper fittings and said that the Pex-al pex has been getting less and less popular over the years, so fittings are also getting more scarce.

    He suggested exactly what Don L used. A barbed fitting made of brass, one end NPT thread and the other end a barb. He suggested a regular hose clamp over the barb to hold it all together.

    I took one home and the barbed end does not quite fit. With a little reaming with a small screwdriver, the first barb of 5 fits into the end. It is close to working but not quite there.

    I've seen and read about reamers that would likely expand the Pex-al pex just enough to make a tight fit, but I don't know where to buy one.

    I can likely figure-out how to use a reamer, but I wonder how much give there is in the pex-al pex. I don't want to weaken the connection points and create oxygen barrier breaches.
  20. Tarmsolo60

    Tarmsolo60 Feeling the Heat

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    I may be wrong but I think donL was talking about using barbed fittings on regular pex and the proper fittings on alpex.

    My opinion, not that it matters much is you should remember your you shelled out a lot of money for your gasifier. If you have a improper fitting fail and its below the top of the boiler, water will leak out to the fitting level. A loaded boiler (low water cutoff or not) would possibly be damaged if nobody is around to immediately fix the problem and also would present a safety risk for anyone attempting some sort of repair. I would use the proper fittings, That is my personal feeling. It would be a shame if a boiler was ruined for the matter of saving a couple hundred dollars in fittings.

    I'm not trying to start trouble, everyone is free to install as the see fit, and hopefully nobody will have problems.

    Maybe think about making all your pex connections above the boiler water line if your not using the pex manufacturers fittings.
  21. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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    Yes this is what I was tring to say.

    Tim, Why don't you use the proper pex-al-pex fittings? They are not that expensive and easy to install.
  22. Jim in CT

    Jim in CT Member

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    Anyone know where you can get 1 1/4 pex-al-pex?
  23. mtfallsmikey

    mtfallsmikey New Member

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    PEX Supply..????
  24. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    from what someone said on this forum pex-al pex doesn't work with shark-bites, something about the OD of the tubing, I don't know if this is true. Has anyone ever tried this? it would help us all to know if it does work on not. I also had someone say that thermopex wouldn't work with shark-bites, but it does as my fittings haven't leaked since they were installed on both ends of the thermopex.
  25. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    The question was posed by Don L (who I am highly indebted to, for his excellent advice) "Tim, Why don’t you use the proper pex-al-pex fittings?

    The answers to this are numerous:
    1. The fittings are really hard to find here in Canada
    2. They are $8. in the USA making them $11-12 landed in the great white north
    3. I have absolutely no confidence in "the proper fittings" since they contain neoprene O-rings which will eventually fail (and maybe that is why Pex-al pex and its associated fittings manufactureres have lost favour with the buying public)
    4. By contrast the plain old barbed brass fittings with NPT at the opposite end and a hose clamp are easy to find and I believe will be much more reliable. There are no O-rings to fail and leak. As the plumbing contractor said, " These usually work with 175 psi and you're using what?...12 psi. Should be just fine." His logic I found unassailable. I have to modestly heat the hose to get the brass barb in, its a tight fit, but the fitting is then tight and the hose clamp just seals the deal. I think it will be a better solution than the "proper" fitting.
    5. I know that for most people using the proper fittings is important, but if there is no good reason for using the "proper" fitting when a less expensive and possibly superior fitting will work, I am willing to take a chance. I would gauge the risk of failure of the fitting at next to zero, whereas the O-rings will certainly fail eventually.

    CAVEAT: This comes from a guy who believes the banking system is the biggest ponzi-scheme ever.
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