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Working with Wirsbo tubing

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by hiker88, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    I'm a little irritated with the plumber that did all the original plumbing in my house.

    I put a zone in my basement this winter and used Haydon 1000 baseboard and I am really happy at the heat I get out of it at low tank temps. I had planned on swapping out original baseboard in the house with the Haydon 1000. However, when I took off one of the upstairs covers I didn't really recognize the fittings, so I contacted my local supply guy and he explained to me that it is Wirsbo - takes different tools (pretty expensive) and comes in kind of odd sizes. I already have all my regular pex tools that I bought for the winter project. The downstairs is all regular pex. I'm not a plumber but that seems kind of sloppy to me.

    The other thing is, I sent my supply guy a picture and he is concerned I don't have enough slack sticking up above the floor to cut the Wirsbo tubing (to remove the baseboard) and then have enough room to get a Wirsbo expander fitting down over without bumping up against the floor.

    I asked him if I could cut the existing wirsbo tubing, put in a male to male connector and then splice in a short section of the Shark Bite pex I bought from him last winter (I still have 20 or so feet of it), and then use a 90 degree copper fitting to go into the baseboard. He's not sure that the inside diameters will match up. He's a supplier, and as much as he'd like to sell me the baseboard, I think he is afraid of giving me bad advice and putting me in a bad spot.

    Anyone ever deal with this? If I can splice in a short (3-4 inch) section of regular pex I think I'm in good shape.

    Thanks

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  2. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Is it 5/8? or 3/4? Wirsbo/Uponor makes both sizes, although most guys I know use the 3/4. If it's 3/4 you do NOT have to use their expansion system and can use regular crimp rings and regular 3/4 fittings. I do this all the time, in fact I installed a zone in an apartment building today this way. Be careful though, as the supplier will say Wirsbo will not warranty if it's not 100% Wirsbo stuff, well that goes for Watts and Zurn for that matter. Wirsbo is PEX-a which is more flexable and much more resiliant than the PEX-b or c.

    I use it [PEX-a] exclusively with their expansion system, cinch rings, and crimp rings all the time. Personally I do like to use the crimp rings as I feel they are the fastest and least expensive connection, as well as being how hydraulic hose is connected, so thats good enough for me! There are other brands that also sell PEX-a: Mr. Pex bring one I use regularly.

    I'd avoid Sharkbite and the like like the PLAGUE in any perminant installation, especially heating.

    This is just my expierence.
    TS
  3. __dan

    __dan Burning Hunk

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    When I was researching pex for my house, in the 1990's, I came across Wirsbro, now Uponor, and their reputation was "thirty years no leaks". They had been in that business a long time and their support was great, they sent out their engineering design manual for free. I don't know the differences between low and high grade pex, pex A, but they have the right stuff, the high quality pex, with O2 barrier for heat.

    So I went with Wirsbo and bought the tool. It's all professional quality with factory support. I see how it could be a problem getting set up for two brands of pex. Wirsbo has the memory elastic ring termination system with the expansion tool (it works). I agree with your plumber and Wiirsbo. If you can bend the pex tubing out of the floor at a 45 deg angle you should be able to cycle the hand tool expansion system. Milwaukee also makes a cordless expansion tool for Wirsbo, which may work with less clearance.

    You would probably have to terminate in a Wirsbo to 1/2" NPT brass then probably stay with brass of copper to the baseboard. If I saw two different brands of pex right at the baseboard end, it would not look right to me, I would go ???

    Course if it were me, i think I would keep the old baseboards.
  4. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    Well, I'm not sure what I can do at this point if anything. The upstairs always took longer to heat up than downstairs and I can see why now. The upstairs is the Wirsbro and it says it is 5/8 IN, which I assume means it is 5/8" inside diameter, probably 3/4" outside. The rest of the house is 3/4" inside, 7/8" outside diameter.

    I was just going to make it a project to putter at over a couple seasons, maybe do a couple\year until I finish it up. The cordless expander tool looks to be over $400 so I don't want to invest in that if I don't have too.
  5. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    If you want to go with the Wirsbo/Uponor connector method you'll have to buy the rather expensive expander tool. And I would stick to their brand tubing, too.
    One of my vices is buying clever, well-made tools so I have one of their expander tools. Check out Ebay as it seems to be a regular method to buy the tool, get your plumbing done and then sell the tool. Search for both Wirsbo and Uponor. Both names are still in common use.
  6. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    Yea; been thinking about this more. One of the reasons I didn't mind buying the crimping tool for the pex b I have, was that I'd have the right tool in case I ever had a leak. I guess what bugs me is that the mixing of the two types of pex and connector methods just seems devious to me. Maybe the plumbers way of discouraging people from taking care of things themselves. So, I'll probably have to buy the tool and go from there..
  7. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    If you had 3/4 tube you could use your crimp tool. However since you have the 5/8 you'll need the expander tool and fittings which can only be had through the supplier or ebay, as most all things can be had on ebay ;). The 5/8 tube should have almost no bearing on how your upstairs heats vs. the 3/4. As I'm sure you already know it's the amount of BB, and if your going with Haydon 1000 you'll have much higher output/foot even at lower temps which is what you desire for storage.

    Good luck, and the Wirsbo/Uponor (PEX-a) is much easier to work with than Hardware store PEX-b or c. Once you've worked with it, you may not want to go back. Get the expansion tool on fleabay, as well as some coupelings for the 5/8 tube and the rest of the fittings you may need and you'll be happy with the professional results.

    TS
  8. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    And be sure to get the short special sleeves ( they're cheap ) that go over each end before expanding and attaching to the fitting.
  9. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    Boilerman, could you explain to me (like I'm 5 please :) ), why you can't use a crimp tool with the 5/8"? Just trying to understand the difference.

    Thanks.
  10. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    The 5/8" will not fit over your 3/4 crimp fittings, that you can buy at Lowes/HD/Hardware store. If you had 3/4 tubing you can use the Wirsbo just as you would any other type of PEX.

    TS
  11. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    Right sorry, but I did find this reducing coupler if I went the route of splicing in a short section of the pex I already have:
    http://www.homedepot.com/p/SharkBit...ducing-Coupling-UC057A/202798046#.UbpTodLh11w
    Although it will be odd looking, it will be hidden by the covers. Would this work?

    I'm just hung up on spending 200 for another tool. I think I could get most of the baseboard I need for that much.

    Please bear with me.
  12. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Yes that would work, you'd just need 5/8 crimp rings and the 5/8 head for your crimp tool you already have.

    TS
  13. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    Thanks TS. I actually sprung for a pretty high end ratchet-type crimping tool that will work with a wide range of fitting sizes, so I am glad this could be an option.

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