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Old 08-28-2011, 11:32 AM   #1
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PEX crimp vs. press on Sharkbite experiences

I am rebuilding a 75 Argosy 22' rear door, with copper plumbing which has been frozen and thus stretched so it is essentially not repairable. I removed all of the copper other than some small amount in the bathroom which was not damaged and very hard to get access to.

At any rate for those of you who may be thinking of copper replacement, or even replacing the gray poly stuff used in the later AS products, here are some things to think about.

I love the press on and reusable Sharkbite (home depot) fittings, but they are somewhat expensive and take up more room in some tight locations. I have another plumbing job to do on my Mobile in AZ this winter, so I could justify the purchase of a $95 crimp tool to use the less expensive crimp fittings.

The main two problems with the crimp tool and fittings are:

a) the space required to open the tool handles up to form the crimp. It will not fit in tight spaces at all. I was able to work around the problem mostly, but there is one area in the rear road side corner of the unit which is impossible to get the tool into. I will have to use the Sharkbite fittings there, so I can press them onto the PEX.

b) the crimp rings must be located 1/4 inch from the end of the pipe, in order to have them cover the two sealing rings on the fittings. The crimp tool is heavy, and hard to position properly on the ring without knocking it out of the 1/4 inch alignment spec. There is very little tolerance for error on the required crimp ring spacing. In essence you are working blind when you close the tool jaws. I had to cut off several rings with a Dremil tool when I found they were out of position.

For those of you close to a Home Depot, you can rent the crimp tool from them for a few dollars a day. That is not an option for me as it is a 200 mile round trip to a Home Depot.

Home Depot also sells a "pocket PEX crimper" about $25. Good tool, but requires you to close it with a set of Vice Grips, and each ring may take several "bites" of the Vice Grips to do. So, not very convenient either.

In my opinion is that if you have the room for the larger press on Sharkbite type fittings use them. The cost is justified and if they are properly pressed onto the pipe (the only caution I have) they seal, work and are a great option for most all plumbing repairs and even some original work.

In a partial rebuild of the plumbing in my 74 Argosy 20' I used the Sharkbite fittings only, and have had no issues in three camping seasons.
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:21 PM   #2
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I use both and have had no leaks with either. I have a $50 crimper for 1/2 inch and the $25 one for tight spots. I have done my trailer and guest house with the crimp ones with no leaks. I find as long as you crimp it on the brass fitting it will not leak. Just make sure it is adjusted right. If it is not tight enough it will leak.

I use sharkbites when connecting to copper or really tight areas I can't get a crimper into.

Both systems are great. the only time you want copper would be for coming through a wall to plumbing. plus like you say: it is hard to brake when it freezes.
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:34 PM   #3
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I used Shark Bite because of the tight space problems. I luv it. For anyone with any plumbing...I recommend keeping some Shark Bite fittings...straight and angles....for that emergency repair. (I use 1/2 in tubing so thats the size of spares I keep.)
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Old 08-28-2011, 02:22 PM   #4
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I use the $40 crimper from Lowes or HD with 1/2" and 3/8" PEX. (I look at it this way, that is less than a Airstream repair place would charge to get theirs out of the tool box and put it back in.) I use the sheetmetal crimps. I do not use the heavy ring crimps. Space is a problem, but generally I can do most of the crimps outside and put it in tight spots as an assembly. Sometimes I use the shark bite fittings if it is really tight. You are not limited to just using the crimp but it is a wonderful way to go. sometimes you can make an assembly and put it in with and extra fitting out in an exposed area. And buy the relatively cheap shear cutter that makes nice, clean ends.
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Old 08-28-2011, 02:50 PM   #5
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Id use both and have keep hose clamps in travel tool box

Quote:
Originally Posted by purman View Post
I use both and .......
I agree with purman. I'd use the "crimp on" where you can reach and Sharkbites where you can't. I'd also keep some hose clamps in my travel tool box and way to heat the Pex. Not that there is a problem with what one has fixed but if one gets out and has a water leak, or your buddy has a water leak it can save a weekend. I heat source, and nut driver with a hose clamp works wonders on a leak, for a on-the-fly repair.
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:40 PM   #6
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Crimp ring spacing fix

[QUOTE=idroba;1038809]

b) the crimp rings must be located 1/4 inch from the end of the pipe, in order to have them cover the two sealing rings on the fittings. The crimp tool is heavy, and hard to position properly on the ring without knocking it out of the 1/4 inch alignment spec. There is very little tolerance for error on the required crimp ring spacing. In essence you are working blind when you close the tool jaws. I had to cut off several rings with a Dremil tool when I found they were out of position.

Just recently redid some of the lines in my Bambi. When I went to buy the PEX fittings I found a type of crimp ring that solves the spacing problem. They are labeled "pro crimp rings" made by Vanguard and have a sleeve on them that catches the end of the pipe and puts it in the exact spot it needs to be. It can't move lower that it's supposed to go. There were about 4 places that I would never have been able to get it done correctly if I hadn't found this type. Just wasn't enough room to get the tool, tubing and my hands in there to hold the fitting. They are more expensive that the regular rings but worth every penny. Bought a bag of 10 @ Lowes.
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:40 PM   #7
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With my experience as a plumber, I will make the suggestion of using solid copper PEX crimps wherever possible.


The expansion method is great, but overkill and tools are extremely expensive.

Solid copper crimps are the 'best' in terms of durability, and are the most affordable in the long run. However the tools used to crimp them are somewhat expensive and do not work well in confined areas. Imagine a pair of large bolt cutters (you need a pair for each pipe size you plan on using) that needs to be opened about 165 which needless to say is more than tricky in confined areas. You may need to assemble as you would play chess (think 10 steps ahead) for example you may make a connection, then slide the whole assembly under a cabinet then make your final connection down the line.

Next on the list is what some people call "Watts" style or "HydroPEX" clamps, which would somewhat remind you of a band clamp. They made of multiple pieces and are compressed with a tool that is easier to use in a confined area, and 1 tool can compress any size ring. The rings however, about 3X the cost of solid copper rings and I'm not too sure how they would hold up long term in a flex/vibration scenario like when installed in an RV.

Third is the Sharkbite, they don't use any tools and are extremely expensive fittings. Be sure to only use Sharkbite compatible tubing or else you will have leaks. I wouldn't even consider using them in an RV at all. They are more headache then what they are worth. If it takes me an extra minute per fitting to compress a ring then so be it, better than a leak a few years down the road.

So to summarize;

Solid copper if you want 'the best' or when redoing an entire trailer, see if you can rent the tools.

Stainless Watts clamps for confined areas or doing a small amount of work.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:07 PM   #8
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I bought the copper rings and crimper. I am a totally inexperienced re-plumber, and I did my 66 in no time with a good bit of planning. Leak free. I crimped mostly outside and then assembled the parts inside.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:41 PM   #9
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Take a look at Flair-it fittings. They can often be found at the local hardware store or online (iPlumb.tv - PEX Fittings Flair It Bulk ). These use a nut to tighten the pex down on a barb, are much less installation critical than crimps, and cheaper and less obtrusive that the sharkbyte. They need no tools and can be reused.

The other option is Quest, which can also work with copper like sharkbyte but are a bit more expensive and need more adapters that flair-it does.
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:41 AM   #10
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I have used both pex crimp method and sharkbites in my cabin and my airstream with no leeks or problems. Simple to use but prefer sharkbites because you can remove them easily for repairs and installing new equipment.
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:02 AM   #11
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Go Pex

I am with NickSimcheck's camp. Crimping gives you professional results. The $25 vice grip tool allows you to crimp in confined spaces. Sharkbite are for repairs or where crimping is not possible. Also, good planning is essential to get a professional looking job.

Dan
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:29 AM   #12
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I have used the "Shark Bite" type fittings for many years in industial settings and they work great - for a time. Over time (5 to 10 years) they tend to leak and since they are O-ring sealed the O-rings will dry and crack. I agree that they are perfect for repair work and limited space but I like the crimp fittings for long lifetime work.

Jay.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:13 AM   #13
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I actually like pex-al-pex rather than regular pex because it keeps the shape you bend it to. The pex and a crimp will outlive us all. A sharkbite o- ring will not.
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:44 AM   #14
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Off topic just a bit- Can I use pex and crimps to attach a new outside faucet to my copper on my house:? The old one leaks and is soldered on
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