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Old 07-22-2008, 04:53 AM   #1
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Shark-bite Pex components.

Hi all;
Being way past my scheduled date of completing my Argosy, we had no time to test our plumbing system before departing on maiden voyage on July 11th. The time allowed for testing was consumed by repairing of a crack in blue tank. Having my plumber friend's assurance that brass Shark Bite type Pex fittings never leak, we set of for Promised Land State Park in Pa.
After arrival and set up, I have turned on my Max Sensor which refused to stop pumping. Thinking that the hot water tank was filling up, I proceeded to bleed air from all spigots. By the time I have realized what is going on water was everywhere. It turned out that five out of twenty four connections leaked. We wound up shutting the system down, and upon my return following Monday I have called my plumber buddy. According to him during the initial phone conversation I have made mistakes inserting the tubing into connectors. Forty five minutes later he arrived ready to expose my mistakes. Two hours later he still had same number of leaks. After two hours I requested that they are replaced with crimp on connectors. While all water was cleaned up, and although my aluminum clad floor did not absorb any moisture, my level of embarrassment at the camp site was enough to ruin my weekend. Now most of connections are crimped. Remaining eight will be changed soon.
I want this post to serve as a warning that brass Shark Bite fittings do leak despite any warranties. Now with the system tested, we are off on July 25th. back to Promised Land State Park to do some catch and release fishing. Thanks, "Boatdoc"

P.S. Our Arg tows steady as in a dream.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:46 AM   #2
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Thanks for the info, as I was considering using them. I think I will look into Swagelok instead.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:16 AM   #3
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boatdoc,

Sounds like a dreadful experience. Hopefully the grand time you have on your next trip will wash away the bad memory.

Did you plumber friend has any explanation for the leaks? Surely he was surprised and chagrined.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:18 AM   #4
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Mine on PVC/CPVC haven't leaked but I'll keep an eye on them. My brother is a plumber and he loves them. You do have to be careful and slide them in to the correct depth.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:13 AM   #5
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WOW!

This is an eye-opener for sure!

I have been using Sea-Tech fittings for 4 years now and haven't had a failure. I have had a couple of leaks, which were traced to insufficient insertion of the tubing into the fitting, but the leaks stopped immediately when the tubing was inserted properly.

I do know that any lateral pressure or side-ways strain on the tubing (as not being inserted squarely into the fittings) will cause them to weep, which requires you to have a clean, perpendicular entry into the fitting. I clamp the tubing near the fittings to accomplish this.

Something to watch in the future
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:49 AM   #6
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Boatdoc,

What brand and type of PEX did you use?

Considering the shear number of failures and the inability of your plumber to get them to stop leaking, I would assume that the problem is caused by a dimensional incompatibility of the PEX and the fittings.

The Cash-Acme site states that the Shark-bite fittings will only work with PEX that meets ASTM F876, CSA B137.5 specification.

Sorry to hear of your difficulties, that would ruin my weekend too.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byamcaravanner View Post
Boatdoc,

What brand and type of PEX did you use?

Considering the shear number of failures and the inability of your plumber to get them to stop leaking, I would assume that the problem is caused by a dimensional incompatibility of the PEX and the fittings.

The Cash-Acme site states that the Shark-bite fittings will only work with PEX that meets ASTM F876, CSA B137.5 specification.

Sorry to hear of your difficulties, that would ruin my weekend too.
Hi Steve; Tubing is ZURN CL/TD-ASTM F876/F877-B137.5UPC-Hot/Cold. Fittings are CASH ACME 1/2 CU/CPVC/PexcUPCIGC188. There was very little of linear misalignment in tubing, because the tubing is naturally coiled. This in itself will cause some directional force on the fitting. Since the tubing comes coiled the manufacture should have designed the fittings with this in mind. Another plumber told me that unless high water pressure hits the fitting instantly the "O" rings may seep at lower pressures and prevent them from fully sealing the connection. As I stated previously the tubing was inserted properly. I will replace the rest of them with crimp on connectors in the near future, but from this upcoming Friday I am going camping. Thanks for your comment Steve. Regards, "Boatdoc"
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatdoc View Post
Another plumber told me that unless high water pressure hits the fitting instantly the "O" rings may seep at lower pressures and prevent them from fully sealing the connection. As I stated previously the tubing was inserted properly. I will replace the rest of them with crimp on connectors in the near future, but from this upcoming Friday I am going camping. Thanks for your comment Steve. Regards, "Boatdoc"
Thanks for the info... I'm glad I opted to spend the bucks on the crimper and the crimp ringes rather than buy the shark-bites and avoid the expense of the crimper. I do not relish the idea of having to re-do what I have just re-done.

Good Luck! ...and relax doubly hard on your next trip.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:59 PM   #9
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I have had no problem with Sea-Tech fittings. I probably used 25 of them to replumb my entire trailer.
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Old 07-22-2008, 07:58 PM   #10
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I have replaced all my copper with blue/red pex and shark-bite fittings.
So far so good....

Sorry to hear about the leaks.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:01 PM   #11
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I don't know which fitting I have but I haven't had any problems with them. These are the fittings that are all plastic and go inside the pipe and have a twist on ring that deforms the pipe and clamps everything together. I tighten them down with a Channel Lock style wrench making sure I don't deform anything, just using up all the threads. The dealer told me to crank them down until they squeak, I go a bit further. I also make sure that the cuts are clean.

Related to the crimp style, we did have a nasty event with our new house. Apparently the plumber's crimper went out of calibration while finishing the plumbing and one of the outside faucets decided to leak. We didn't find it for about 2 months, by then the closet had moldy carpeting and a lot of drywall damage.

My approach with the PEX is to make sure the fittings don't have any lateral pressure on them by anchoring the PEX tubing to whatever I can. I have also only used tubing that says PEX on it. For holding the tubes in place, I use the official plastic clamps, I would worry about abrasion with metal clamps. I also charge the system using city water before I close it up and let it sit for a day or so and check for leaks during the test. (if you can't tell, I have had really bad luck with plumbing and the AS project hasn't been an exception).

So my recommendation is to test it before proceeding. If you use the crimps, invest in the gauge and make sure everything is meeting specification.

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Old 07-22-2008, 10:38 PM   #12
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If you want to test your water system with no potential for water damage.....you can do a leak-down test using pressurized air. I usually seal any outlets, add an end cap with a Shrader valve and pump up the system with air to whatever the system's weakest component specifies (generally around 65 PSI).

I also have a gizmo that attaches to the Shrader valve that has a large dial pressure gauge on it and wait 24 hours to see if the pressure has dropped. If it has......you got a leak, and I then go around the system with soapy water solution (just like testing an LP line) to find the leak. No water leaks this way........just air
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:51 PM   #13
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Hi Lew,

I need to recheck my plumbing system, and your air check method will be ideal.

I recently had a water system check on my 23 ft '70 Safari at a local RV dealer. I was told that there were a couple of easy to fix leaks and a new hot water heater was needed. After installation of the water heater they charged up the system and are now saying numerous leaks are appearing ($1200 worth).

In your opinion, would the leaks have been apparent even without the installation of a new water heater? Seems like the RV dealer would have had a better way to test for leaks before beginning the installation of new parts. Or would the leaks not have appeared without on operable water heater?

Thanks,
Tim
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:34 PM   #14
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My Sarkbite fittings are great. However, I did NOT use the PEX that came coiled. I used the straight stuff. There is a little give to it to manuever by some obstales but for angled corners I used the Sharkbite. Perhaps the 'give' in the coiled PPEX product isn't making for a solid connections.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTsafari View Post
Hi Lew,

I need to recheck my plumbing system, and your air check method will be ideal.

I recently had a water system check on my 23 ft '70 Safari at a local RV dealer. I was told that there were a couple of easy to fix leaks and a new hot water heater was needed. After installation of the water heater they charged up the system and are now saying numerous leaks are appearing ($1200 worth).

In your opinion, would the leaks have been apparent even without the installation of a new water heater? Seems like the RV dealer would have had a better way to test for leaks before beginning the installation of new parts. Or would the leaks not have appeared without on operable water heater?

Thanks,
Tim
WOW!!

$1200 is a whole lotta leaks!!! I could probably re-plumb your entire water system for that!!!

I would think that leaks of that magnitude would have presented themselves on the first inspection. Usually, if there is any question of leaks, the air leak-down method is used to find the problem areas. I would be suspicious!!!
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:13 PM   #16
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Yeah, my eyes bugged out when I heard the cost, especially when I thought I was going to pick up my silver spud in working order. Now I'm the proud owner of a new hot water heater, but no use of the hot water....

I took it to a very reputable RV dealer, so I thought. Lessons learned. Now I'm going to be learning some lessons in plumbing leak repair, certainly not my area of expertise, so you may hear from me again.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions.
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:24 PM   #17
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I used multiple sharkbite fittings in my '72 GT, with coiled pex, and a couple of transitions from copper to pex. No leaks.
Boatdoc, it's a bummer you had so many, and that it happened in such a public way. Good luck with it.
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Old 11-05-2008, 03:32 AM   #18
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MTSafari, the leaks should have been apparent before the installation of a new water heater. The water heater actually functions as a large pipe in the middle of your system. If the system's continuity was complete ( every valve open , etc.) any leaks would have been found assuming they used the same pressure on the first test as the last.
I wonder if the original test pressure was lower or they had a valve closed somewhere in the sytem then opened it later. Possible the hot water shut off valve? Seems like the RV place screwed up $1200 worth for you. Frankly make them a proposition, you will pay for the material to fix the system maybe ($200)and they absorb the labor($1,000). If not, go to small claims court for their error.
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Old 11-05-2008, 03:35 AM   #19
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the RV dealer screwed up. $1,200 can replace the entire system.
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Old 11-05-2008, 07:00 AM   #20
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Not to ask a silly question, but why not stay with copper plant? I realize the PEX has a number of advantages including a bit of flexibility but this is not the first horror story I've heard about fittings.
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