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Old 11-10-2010, 02:33 PM   #1
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


What is the general opinion on Apollo Pex fittings? Are they safe to use? I know that there has been problems with certain manufacturers, but I haven't heard anything either way about Apollo. It's handy b/c I can get it at Lowes, but if it's not safe...

thoughts?

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Old 11-10-2010, 03:51 PM   #2
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


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What is the general opinion on Apollo Pex fittings? Are they safe to use? I know that there has been problems with certain manufacturers, but I haven't heard anything either way about Apollo. It's handy b/c I can get it at Lowes, but if it's not safe...

thoughts?
I ordered the materials and tool for my upcoming PEX replacement for copper lines (one of which is leaking under the slab.) After much research I came to the conclusion that the Wirsbo/Uponer expansion joints method is the best for me. It seems to be the most foolproof and reliable method. A large number of high rise building contractors use this method which seems to vouch for its reliability and ease of installation. The expander tool is VERY expensive but pexsupply.com has them on sale right now for $289.

The copper crimp method seems to be the least reliable method. I learned that the crimping tool needs to be re-calibrated periodically to insure proper crimps. This method should only be used with a totally compatible pex system meaning pex tubing, fittings, copper rings and crimping tool all from the same manufacturer or the manufacturer's recommendations for reliable joints. --- The copper crimp system is the one that Zurn had the big class action suit for joint failures. It's said that Zurn corrected the problem but that law suit and the fact that the crimp tool should be re-calibrated periodically just goes to show how critical those joints can be IMO.

The stainless steel cinch method seems better but I believe it also needs to be compatible with all of the parts used to be reliable.

The Wirsbo/Uponer expansion system also needs all parts to be compatible but that's easy since Uponer is the only company that sells the expansion system AFAIK. The other thing I like about the expansion system is that the tool does not have to fit in tight spaces. The expansion is made where there is a lot of room and then the tubing is put over the fitting even if the fitting is in a tight space. When the tubing and expansion ring contract due to the material memory, it automatically makes the correct joint. No "Go, NoGo" tool is requried to double check the crimp like the copper crimp ring method requires. Also, the expansion system ONLY uses PEX-A quality tubing which is the highest grade PEX tubing so no need to do research to insure getting the best tubing. And finally, the ID of the expansion fittings is larger than the ID for crimp fittings which allows more and smoother water flow. Note that the ID of a fitting for a 1/2" Pex tubing "copper ring crimp system" is about 3/8". Compare that to the ID of 1/2" copper pipe which is 1/2" since copper fittings fit on the "outside" of the pipe. The expansion system has many pros going for it.

Pex tubing blowing off a fitting can result in catastrophic flooding so I'm going with the best regardless of cost. But that's just me. Your mileage will vary.

HRG


Last edited by Homerepairguy; 11-10-2010 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 11-10-2010, 05:01 PM   #3
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


I second that! Wrisbo/Upnor is the best way to go. The expander is expensive, but it does give you peace of mind about your joints. Also you can buy it used then turn around and sell it for what you paid.
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:39 PM   #4
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


I have the Wirsbo system, I used it to install all the PEX in my house. While the system is good, it is far from foolproof. Let me give you a few examples of things to be careful about with this system:

1. You can get either brass or plastic fittings (tees, elbows etc.). When I first started using Wirsbo, only the brass was available. I have not been happy with the brass fittings, they seem to corrode if they get wet, which they often do in the summer in my basement due to condensation on the cold water line. The plastic (polysulfone) fittings have none of these problems, I have switched entirely to plastic fittings now.

2. If you need to remove a fitting for any reason, it seems to be effectively impossible to reuse the male end of the old fitting, since the only practical way I have found to remove a fitting is to cut the PEX ring off with a knife, then cut the tubing down to the fitting with a knife. This typically nicks the fitting, and a nicked fitting is going to leak most of the time. If I need to replace a fitting, I simply cut the whole fitting out, and add a piece of PEX using a joining fitting. This cost several dollars more since the old fitting is junk, but it avoids leaks.

3. I have the hand expander tool. There have been occasions where I simply could not get the tool in place to expand the PEX (tight spaces like in a wall under a sink). If you can prefabricate the run, this works well, but if you cannot fit the expansion tool in place, you either need the compact air activated expander (very expensive), or you need to use a crimper or sharkbite, neither of which I like, but the expander is large, and needs space to operate.

4. Occasionally you will get a situation where the ring slips out of position during the expansion process. It can be very difficult to get it back in position. Murphy's law, this is going to happen after you have cut the PEX to length and are making the final connection. If the ring slips, you really need to get it back to the proper location, else you risk a bad joint. This can be very frustrating, since occasionally that ring simply will not hold still when you expand the pipe.

In general, a good system, but as I say not perfect, and there is a bit of a learning curve.
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Old 11-10-2010, 07:17 PM   #5
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
I have the Wirsbo system, I used it to install all the PEX in my house. While the system is good, it is far from foolproof. Let me give you a few examples of things to be careful about with this system:

1. You can get either brass or plastic fittings (tees, elbows etc.). When I first started using Wirsbo, only the brass was available. I have not been happy with the brass fittings, they seem to corrode if they get wet, which they often do in the summer in my basement due to condensation on the cold water line. The plastic (polysulfone) fittings have none of these problems, I have switched entirely to plastic fittings now.

2. If you need to remove a fitting for any reason, it seems to be effectively impossible to reuse the male end of the old fitting, since the only practical way I have found to remove a fitting is to cut the PEX ring off with a knife, then cut the tubing down to the fitting with a knife. This typically nicks the fitting, and a nicked fitting is going to leak most of the time. If I need to replace a fitting, I simply cut the whole fitting out, and add a piece of PEX using a joining fitting. This cost several dollars more since the old fitting is junk, but it avoids leaks.

3. I have the hand expander tool. There have been occasions where I simply could not get the tool in place to expand the PEX (tight spaces like in a wall under a sink). If you can prefabricate the run, this works well, but if you cannot fit the expansion tool in place, you either need the compact air activated expander (very expensive), or you need to use a crimper or sharkbite, neither of which I like, but the expander is large, and needs space to operate.

4. Occasionally you will get a situation where the ring slips out of position during the expansion process. It can be very difficult to get it back in position. Murphy's law, this is going to happen after you have cut the PEX to length and are making the final connection. If the ring slips, you really need to get it back to the proper location, else you risk a bad joint. This can be very frustrating, since occasionally that ring simply will not hold still when you expand the pipe.

In general, a good system, but as I say not perfect, and there is a bit of a learning curve.
Great post! Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences.

1. I've ordered all plastic fittings so am good to go there.

2. I've read that it's possible to remove pex tubing without nicking fittings by cutting the ring and then heating the tubing. Maybe this was only valid when using brass fittings. Don't know if it would work with plastic fittings. This would also mean that there needs to be enough slack to cut off the heated end of the PEX tubing and reconnect to the fitting. I planned to put a "movement" loop in every line for the natural expansion and contraction of the PEX tubing so should be able to cut ends off and still have enough.

3. Learn something new every day. What I read before seeing your post was that it's easier to work in tight spaces using expansion fittings since the tubing can be slipped on the fittings in tight spaces. I'll try to make sure I leave a lot of slack in the tubing to be able to have the ends in open spaces.

4. Great info. Were you rotating the tool and/or the tubing between each expansion crank? I read that that's very important. I'll be sure to mark every ring and tubing with a felt pen before I start the expansion process. Also have some tape handy to hold the ring still if necessary.

Thanks much!
HRG
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:28 PM   #6
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
I have the Wirsbo system, I used it to install all the PEX in my house. While the system is good, it is far from foolproof. Let me give you a few examples of things to be careful about with this system:

1. You can get either brass or plastic fittings (tees, elbows etc.). When I first started using Wirsbo, only the brass was available. I have not been happy with the brass fittings, they seem to corrode if they get wet, which they often do in the summer in my basement due to condensation on the cold water line. The plastic (polysulfone) fittings have none of these problems, I have switched entirely to plastic fittings now.

...snip
Daniel,

When you switched to all plastic fittings, how did you handle the adapters from the metal water line coming from the city to your pex system? And also metal to pex going into and out of your water heater? Did you use brass "copper to pex" fittings for those adapters?

I'm about to start my switch over from copper to pex and hope to get your input on this before I start.

Thanks,
HRG
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Old 11-16-2010, 09:28 PM   #7
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


Yes, I am very careful to rotate the tool with each crank. This is particularly important when working with larger pipe like 3/4 inch or 1 inch.

Copper to PEX and PEX to copper works fine, I use the Wirsbo brass connector in this case, with a male PEX on one end and a female copper fitting on the other end. this is the only time I use brass fittings.

I have also heard that you can heat the PEX and remove it from a fitting, however I have tried it several times with no success whatsoever. I tried using boiling water, a heat gun etc., in no case would the pipe come off the fitting without slicing the pipe with a knife, which of course is going to nick the fitting.
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Old 11-16-2010, 09:51 PM   #8
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
Yes, I am very careful to rotate the tool with each crank. This is particularly important when working with larger pipe like 3/4 inch or 1 inch.

Copper to PEX and PEX to copper works fine, I use the Wirsbo brass connector in this case, with a male PEX on one end and a female copper fitting on the other end. this is the only time I use brass fittings.

I have also heard that you can heat the PEX and remove it from a fitting, however I have tried it several times with no success whatsoever. I tried using boiling water, a heat gun etc., in no case would the pipe come off the fitting without slicing the pipe with a knife, which of course is going to nick the fitting.
Daniel,

Thanks for your great REAL WORLD info!

Did you buy the expansion tool without the rotating head? (I think that's what I bought but am waiting for the expansion tool since it's on back order.) If no rotating head, did you just rotate the tool in a back and forth motion on each crank? About how much rotation at the actual pex tubing per crank? Especially for 3/4" tubing. Please teach me your technique.

I bought the brass Wirsbo copper to pex couplers that you mentioned so am good to go there. They will be the only brass fittings in my system also.

Well so much for heating the pex to remove it from the Wrisbo fittings. Looking at it in a "glass half full" way though, I guess that's a good thing since it's so hard for the pex to come off the fittings.

Thanks again,
HRG
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:19 PM   #9
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


it took me about a month before i could get a fitting off and be able to reuse it. I used my torch. score the ring with a knife, heat teh ring evenly around using a fast sweeping motion (so it doesn't boil, if you boil the pipe or the fitting it will leak) take your channel locks and rip off the ring, now the hard part, do the same thing without putting any cuts or scores on the fitting. It takes time to get it right, in my opinion if your diong it for a job don't do it, just cut it out and get new fittings. You'll waste more time than it's worth, and if you have to get it inspected it will leak (so says murphey)
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:27 PM   #10
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


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it took me about a month before i could get a fitting off and be able to reuse it. I used my torch. score the ring with a knife, heat teh ring evenly around using a fast sweeping motion (so it doesn't boil, if you boil the pipe or the fitting it will leak) take your channel locks and rip off the ring, now the hard part, do the same thing without putting any cuts or scores on the fitting. It takes time to get it right, in my opinion if your diong it for a job don't do it, just cut it out and get new fittings. You'll waste more time than it's worth, and if you have to get it inspected it will leak (so says murphey)
So when you got the pex tubing off the fitting, did cut the heated end off? If so, how many inches did you find you needed to cut off after heating it?

Thanks,
HRG
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:39 PM   #11
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


I forgot to specify to cut the pipe as close to the fitting as possible (it will take off about 1") then do the heating thing
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:11 PM   #12
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I forgot to specify to cut the pipe as close to the fitting as possible (it will take off about 1") then do the heating thing
That makes sense. Why didn't I think of that?

Thanks,
HRG
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:49 PM   #13
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


Well I guess I never tried heating a fitting with a torch, however unless I am in totally dire straights, I will simply continue to replace fittings rather than try to reuse them. I can visualize burning down the house trying to get a 50 cent fitting loose.

As for the expansion tool, the head on mine rotates. I typically rotate it about 1/4 turn per crank on the handle. For 1/2 inch pipe, it only takes 3 or 4 cranks to fully expand the pipe, for 3/4 inch it takes at least 8 cranks, and for the one inch pipe, well that takes 12 or more cranks. In my experience, it does not pay to try to reduce the number of cranks, it only results in an incompletely expanded pipe, which may not fully seat over the fitting, which is TROUBLE. By the way, my tool came with a tube of grease, you need to grease the tool occasionally to keep it operating smoothly.
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:52 PM   #14
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Apollo Pex Fittings?


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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
Well I guess I never tried heating a fitting with a torch, however unless I am in totally dire straights, I will simply continue to replace fittings rather than try to reuse them. I can visualize burning down the house trying to get a 50 cent fitting loose.
I envisioned removing pex tubing on a leaking manifold fitting where redoing all of the other manifold fittings would be a lot of work. Even on a "T" fitting, I wondered if one joint was leaking, if it might be possible to remove and redo just the one leaking joint rather than have to cut and redo all 3 joints. The cost of replacing a fitting did not enter into the equation at all for me.

Quote:
As for the expansion tool, the head on mine rotates. I typically rotate it about 1/4 turn per crank on the handle. For 1/2 inch pipe, it only takes 3 or 4 cranks to fully expand the pipe, for 3/4 inch it takes at least 8 cranks, and for the one inch pipe, well that takes 12 or more cranks. In my experience, it does not pay to try to reduce the number of cranks, it only results in an incompletely expanded pipe, which may not fully seat over the fitting, which is TROUBLE. By the way, my tool came with a tube of grease, you need to grease the tool occasionally to keep it operating smoothly.
Thanks for sharing your expansion technique. Hope the expansion tool I receive has a rotating head also. How much did your expansion tool cost? I ordered one from pexsupply which is on sale now for $289.

Thanks,
HRG
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:59 PM   #15
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I envisioned removing pex tubing on a leaking manifold fitting where redoing all of the other manifold fittings would be a lot of work. Even on a "T" fitting, I wondered if one joint was leaking, if it might be possible to remove and redo just the one leaking joint rather than have to cut and redo all 3 joints. The cost of replacing a fitting did not enter into the equation at all for me.

Thanks for sharing your expansion technique. Hope the expansion tool I receive has a rotating head also. How much did your expansion tool cost? I ordered one from pexsupply which is on sale now for $289.

Thanks,
HRG
i'm pretty sure all of the heads rotate. the rotation has nothing to do with the tool, the head screws on separately, and the pieces inside the head are held together with a spring. last house i did in uponor i borrowed the electric tool, and used the heads that came with the manual tool. btw... i totally recommend the electric tool. its cordless, much easier to get into tight spaces, and does it so much quicker

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