I am getting ready to do some PEX plumbing for the first time and I am
learning about the various types of PEX systems and connections. I have
done copper and PVC/CPVC plumbing before but I want to learn and start using
Here's a YouTube video I found that explains 6 types of PEX connections:
PEXsupply.com - 6 types of PEX connections (time 8:35)
Which of these types of PEX connection systems would you suggest or
recommend? I expect to be doing enough PEX plumbing now and in the future
that I am not worried about the cost of the tools. But I would be
interested in knowing how the different systems compare in terms of the cost
of the fittings, the brand or type of PEX tubing required for each system,
P.S. I also found these two that give more general info about PEX:
Plumbpedia 4 PEX Water Pipe Part 1 (time 6:50)
I bought / buy my supplies from PEXsupply.com. ...they are the best.
Over the last couple years they have improved their online parts
ordering, selection..... and now with that informative video, really
explain the the range of PEX connection choices
Back when I was started to look at PEX for re-pipes (2005) the info
was not neatly collected so I had to gather it all myself.
I did not discover the clamp type system and SharkBites were not
I chose among these systems at the time:
copper ring crimp
stainless sleeve crimp
PEX ring expander
I settled on Wirsbo / Uponor PEX ring expander system.....not sure
I guess I didnt like the idea of squeezing the hell out of the PEX
will a metal ring. It made me nervous. Plus I liked the brass
fittings & the fact that no external metal part was needed. The only
way an expansion connection can fail is:
internal fitting fails
PEX material fails
Also Wirsbo/Uponor is a major PEX mfr / supplier, another reason to
use their system.
I didn't know (at the time) that plumbers that do a ton of PEX tend to
use expander system but I found out later on.
I have a hand expander (from ebay used, 3 heads) like the in the
video...1/2 or 3/4" expansions are very easy by hand, but 1"
expansions are a lot of work, a real struggle but doable.
I think the crimp system is popular with DIY's because the tool is
If you're gonna do a lot of PEX....I would go with the Wirsbo/Uponor
expansion system and serious consider that battery powered expander.
They're rather spendy but super FAST & easy!
I've done a couple houses at this point and using the "home run"
design, there are less than 40 connections to make (typical 2 bath
Plus (as far as I know) the expansion system is the only one with
power tool option.
When I first got my PEX supplies & tool, I made up some connections
to play with......they're really strong.
My oldest install is 3 years at this point....no problems (yet?) :)
SharkBites are quite, easy, reliable but kinda expensive for a whole
house. I've used them (not for PEX) for "one off" repairs, faster
than setting up to sweat a single connection.
Thanks fftt. That's a lot of good information and I appreciate you taking
the time to write it.
I'm leaning toward the Wirsbo/Uponor expander system, but I am not
completely sure yet. I do like the fact that it appears that many or most
professional plumbers use that system.
One thing I am not quite sure about yet is that the video says that the
Wirsbo expander system requires PEX-A tubing and cannot be used with regular
PEX tubing (or something like that). When I look at the PEXsupply.com
website, I don't seem to see anything which states that the PEX tubing they
sell is PEX-A as opposed to "regular" PEX. And, when I look in places like
Home Depot or Lowes, I don't see anything about PEX-A vs. "regular" PEX
tubing in what they sell. Maybe all that anyone sells these days is already
PEX-A, but I don't know.
Finding the PEXsupply.com videos on their website is not that easy in my
opinion. I originally found them when doing a YouTube search for PEX videos
and I had to look at a lot of videos before figuring out that PEXsupply.com
seemed to have the best ones. In some of the PEXsupply.com videos they say
to "check out our PEX Learning Center on the PEXsupply.com website". I
couldn't find anything called that on their website, so I sent them an email
a few days ago suggesting that they put a clear tab or link on their home
page called "PEX Learning Center" and have links to all of their videos and
training info under that tab or link. They did write back right away and
said they will consider that in future planning of their website.
Another thing that I am looking into is the possible use of PEX for hot
water radiator heating supply and return pipes (not the under-floor radiant
heating). Apparently, PEX-Aluminum-PEX is used for that, and the expander
system doesn't work with PEX-Aluminum-PEX tubing. I haven't figured out yet
if the stainless steel ring crimping system can be used with
PEX-Aluminum-PEX, but I'm checking that out.
PEX-A -B or -C refers to the process used to cross link the
really PEX should be PE-Xa (polyethylene cross linked - process A)
Wirsbo PEX is PEX-A .....I'd stick with their tubing & fittings
They call it AquaPEX (they should be more careful with their wording)
here is a website (they dont sell any PEX prodcuts) but I have found
their info to be solid (if a bit "old school" / conservative)
http://www.plumbingworld.com/pexpipe.html <<<<<< ex
I thought you had found the videos on PEXsupply.com ......... good
videos, should be easier to find :(
I haven't been back to PEXsupply.com in over a year but I do know
that they are responsive to requests for info & have greatly improved
their website since I first went there (2004)
WIrsbo has a lot of info on their website but they are not very
responsvie to email or telephone calls...what you find is what you
I haven't had the need to do heating system, so I dont know much
about the tubing requirements but PEX-A might be ok....but I'd ask
Wirsbo / Uponor about heating apps for their AquaPex and their
Actually they are very responsive. The local mom & pop plumbing place is
a full stocking Wirsbo distributor. I can buy stuff there for less than
the online places or big box and when I was doing the radiant heat in
the house they gave me a ticket to attend a local sales/training session
held by Wirsbo. They demonstrated all of the tooling and techniques and
I got the various manuals and engineering design guides and a contact
number to call to ask questions. Its also great having local stock
because you might be in the middle of a project and forgot to get
something. I had that happen late one day and the one owner dropped it
off on his way home.
That's an interesting website. Even though it could be considerd to be a
little "old school" and conservative, they are right up front about what
they believe, why they believe it, etc.
One thing I noticed is that Wirsbo wrote that they only sell their products
to plumbing supply houses. I assume that's why I don't see their products
in places like Home Depot and Lowes. If that's the case, I'll go to a
plumbing supply place in my area (or order online via PEXsupply.com ) to get
AquaPEX. That way I'll know I'm getting PEX-A. From everything I've seen
so far, PEX-A is a better choice regardless of whether I use the expander
system or a crimping or clamping system.
Wow, get this....,
Other than buying it online at places like PEXsupply.com, I can NOT find any
places where I can buy any Uponor/Wirsbo PEX tubing (AquaPEX) or the
I went to the http://Uponor-USA.com website and even THEY don't say where I
can buy their products or the expander tool. All they say on their website
is that website visitors like me can request that a local installer contact
them -- no "find a dealer", no plumbing supply places, etc.
I live in New Jersey (South Jersey), and I tried going to my local plumbing
supply place this afternoon. It's one of those walk-up-counter-type
plumbing supply places where plumbers go and get what they need They don't
sell any Uponor/Wirsbo expander-type PEX tubing, parts, or tools. Two
plumbers there said that no plumbers that they know of use it. They said
they all use "regular" PEX with crimp rings. The plumbing supply store only
stocks Viega (used to be Vanguard) PEX, fittings, and tools or (for use with
the same Viega PEX tubing) stainless steel clamps and the tool for that.
Then I went online again and searched for plumbing supply stores in my area.
Only one even mentioned the brand Uponor (or Wirsbo -- apparently Uponor's
former name). I'm going to check out that one store in person tomorrow to
see what they say. None of the other plumbing supply places carry any
expansion-type PEX systems, tubing, tools, etc.
After seeing the PEXsupply.com video which said that almost all professional
plumbers use the Uponor/Wirsbo expander-type system and tools, I am stunned
to find that it is virtually impossible for me to find a place to buy the
stuff (except for online).
I bought my house and it had Vanguard pex. Contact Ferguson Plumbing
for some information. Vanguard was bought-out some months or years
They can rent the crimper tool, for a day.
That's funny. I haven't heard that one in a long time. Exit 5. (For those
who are curious, it means what Exit of the New Jersey Turnpike)
I am looking for the Uponor/Wirsbo PEX which is used for the expander-type
system as opposed to the crimper system. Vanguard is now Viega.
Thanks. They have a new Cherry Hill location which is near me, and a
Turnersville location which is not too far from me. I just called them and
they said they do sell Uponor (which I found out is pronounced
"EW-pa-noor"). I'm going to go there in person later today to get more
I didn't get to go there today, ironically due to a plumbing problem in the
property where I want to start doing PEX plumbing (except this was a problem
with getting the new PVC drain/sewer lines installed).
If they are open on Saturdays, I may get there tomorrow.
I am not too concerned about the tools because I am willing to buy what I
need (except for the battery-operated expander tool -- too many bucks for
now, but if anyplace actually rents the battery-operated expander I would
definitely rent one and try it).
I went to a different plumbing supply place today that has a broken link on
their website to Uponor (which made me think maybe they sell the stuff), but
they looked at me like I was from another planet when I asked about AquaPEX,
Uponor, Wirsbo, etc., and they said they don't know anyone who stocks it.
Plumber's Warehouse in SoCal carries Wirsbo/Uponor tubing, fittings &
tools...they didn't carry any PEX supplies a few years ago.
The Californina plumbing code that was adopted by the state Jan 2009 &
goes into effect later this year has finally ok'd the use of PEX for
residential fresh water. Prior to this about 180 cites allowed the
More & more professional plumbing supply houses carry PEX in
California. The couple of professional plumbers that I know use
Wirsbo & and have the battery powered expanders. In tight quarters,
the battery expander is hard to beat, its a one handed tool.....any
lever style expander or crimper is at a great disadvantage where space
I researched PEX for a long time before I made the choice of the
Wirsbo expansion system.
I did get to talk with a person yesterday who said he was doing a large
plumbing job where the job specs required that they use Uponor (Wirsbo)
AquaPEX with the expander, and that he had never used it before. He said
that one negative in his opinion was that in 40-degree weather the expanded
fittings have a hard time returning to their original size to complete the
connection process. But, otherwise, he thought it worked pretty well. I
won't be doing any work in 40-degree weather, so that is not an issue for
me. He also mentioned what you said -- that with the crimping systems, it
is sometimes a problem getting the tool into tight spaces where in it needs
to go. But with the xpander, you just do the expansion on the PEX tubing
end out in the open and then just plug it into place over the fitting end
even in tight spaces. He also metioned that the Uponor fittings have the
same internal diameter as the AquaPEX tubing which allows better water flow.
With the crimping systems, the fittings go inside the PEX tubing and
therefore are a smaller diameter than the PEX tubing -- so the fittings
actually reduce the water flow below what the tubing itself could allow.
Based on the research I have been doing, I agree with your choice and I want
to do the same. I almost gave up and went with the regular PEX (not PEX-A)
and crimping system. But, now I think I can find a local supplier who does
stock Uponor (Wirsbo) AquaPEX tubing, fittings, and tools.
I just ran across a link regarding a Zurn PEX class action lawsuit which
claims that Zurn PEX fittings and connections are failing. Here's the link:
I have no idea of the current staus of the case or the validity of the
I'm going to post this as a new thread called "Zurn PEX Class Action
Lawsuit" instead of continuing it here.
Here's the lin;
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