watts or zurn pex fittings

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Master Brian, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Ok, I know there is a class action suit against zurn about their pex fittings.

    My question is, are the watts fittings better or has anyone had trouble with them? I thought I read somewhere they are the same and they look almost identical. Which should I use or is there a better alternative that would use the same brass crimp tool? I also thought I had read somewhere that someone said to use the Watts over the Zurn.

    I have a very good friend whom builds rentals for himself and he is a licensed contractor, he says he has the zurn in about 60 of his houses and has NEVER had an issue, but he said his plumber has started using the plastic fittings.

    I'm just a DIY'er with lots of construction background, and am using the PEX to update and remodel my house. I am trying to do things correct, but am also on a limited budget.

    I'm not sure what the local plumbing supply house has, but they are somewhat tough for me to get to because of hours. Lowes and H.Depot carry the Zurn, another place carries the Watts brand. I also started with Zurn with a handful of connections, but am thinking of ripping them out and returning them to Lowes.

    What about Watts brass manifolds? I am doing homeruns and leaving the connections in a utility room, but wasn't planning on using a manifold with shutoffs, since it's so easy to cut, splice and repair.

    Thanks in advance....
  2. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    I'm not familar with Zurn but they seem to have a dark cloud over them. I have gone to the watts class and made several joints and I have to say it is very cheesy and IMO far from professional ... I would never put them in my house. The concept was taken from the automotive industry for radiator clamps etc. Check out the Wirsbo.
  3. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
  4. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I have seen that video, thanks! I will admit, I am somewhat looking into that option, but there is a lot higher cost for the tools and I'm not sure that is in my budget.

    From what I can tell, the Zurn and Watts fittings are the same connection. Can I ask why you think it is not a professional connection? I would think if it were similar to the auto industry, it would be a good thing. I say this in thinking a radiator on a car is definately subject to more extremes than a house. Difference being a clamp breaks on a car, it most likely doesn't add up to thousands of dollars.

    Not at all trying to be argumentative, just informed, but to me wirsbo seems like a weaker joint than one with a crimped fitting. Of course, I haven't attended schools on this, which is why I'm here asking....
  5. try the finger test....

  6. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    lol @ master plumber mark
  7. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt it is a good joint.

    Sounds to me like both, the plumber and the electrician weren't too smart. I also know my finger wouldn't go into the 1/2" pipe without expanding it, so why would I stick it in the pipe once expanded, when it is designed to compress again??? With that said, I couldn't insert my pinky into the pipe and crimp a fitting on either. There is a bit of a difference! One is designed to sinch down on a 1/2" OD piece of material(the wirsbo), the other is designed to sinch down on a piece of 1/2" ID matherial(the crimp ring).

    Like another poster said, this is obviously a very hot topic and I'm not at all doubting the wirsbo fitting, I am just curious if the watts fittings are better than the zurn and if they are likely to fail like the zurn has been said to fail. My understanding is that it isn't the crimp connection that is the problem, it's faulty metal and a weak connection where the fittings hub meets the barbed part.

    I just don't have $300-$400 to invest in a tool to plumb part of a house, if the tool I already have will work fine with another brand of fitting. I also am not tearing out lathe and plaster walls to re-run 3/4" copper where a previous plumber ran 1/2" for multiple fixtures. I can snake PEX, which is why I am trying to learn more about it.

    If for some reason, I decide to go with the wirsbo, can the Zurn Pex tube be used with that or do you have to use the tube for the brand of fitting?
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2008
  8. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    I can't understand why, if you are going to all the trouble of doing a home-run installation, wouldn't you install a mainifold(s) with shutoff valves. The value of shutoffs for each line is that you can shut down that damaged line or fixture without affecting the rest of the home....like if some fool hangs a picture or shelf and drills in the stud cavity with the intention of using drywall anchors and accidentally drills into a water line...you could shut down that line and take the time to repair it properly without having to worry about the rest of the house needing water service. You can also shut down the line going to the garden hose in the winter and not have to worry about freezing.

    I don't trust the watts system (if we are talking about the stainless steel clamps), and I don't trust the zurn fittings since who knows if have actually changed their quality control measures. I would try to find a plumbing wholesaler who will sell you a reputable brand like Bow or Vanguard.

    The Uponor system is pretty good, I can't say that I trust it any more or less than a crimp system.
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I use Watts with the SSC rings no problems here.
    I do repair work so I have to work with whatever the cards deal to me.
    If I was doing new construction I probably would use Wirsbo/Uphonor.
    Watts and Zurn are 2 different companies with a night and day difference in quality. Using the SSC system in my situation makes sense. I can connect to more different brands of PEX than anyone with that method. I'm not going to carry 2 or 3 different systems for PEX on my truck... Crimp on!
  10. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    The watts system is a crimp or clamp. I'd use the crimp, as it is the tool I have.

    The reason, I am not planning on doing a manifold, is two fold....
    1) I was told by several they didn't trust the plastic ones.
    2) Price for the copper ones isn't cheap. A 4 way copper manifold with shutoffs is $50+. A 3/4" in, 3/4" out with four 1/2" outs is about $7.

    I guess in the end I wondered, is it worth $40 per 4 fixtures to have independent shutoffs at the manifold, when I have shutoffs at the fixtures and the fact it only takes a matter of minutes to fix a problem area and if the repair is longer, it can be capped off quickly.

    With all that said, if I switch to the watts system, I will probably install their copper manifolds with shutoff, because the supply house that carries this brand didn't appear to have the other option.

    Do you know if the Bow or vangaurd systems are compatible with the zurn crimper and tubing?

    Thanks!
  11. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Do you know if I can use the Zurn Crimp tool, zurn Pex Tube and Zurn Crimps on Watts fittings?

    I thought you were the one saying Watts was ok, but couldn't remember.
  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Yes it was me saying that. The ASTM standard is the same for all SSC rings so the tool is the same. The fittings is what zurn had a problem with. Wrong brass alloy machined improperly.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,032
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    fittings

    Given that the plastic fittings have a much thicker wall, meaning the opening is much smaller than the brass ones, and that plastic can crack under stress, I have avoided them in the few instances where I have needed PEX.
  14. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Redwood, thanks for the reply. Like I said, I only have a handful of connections installed. I think I'll return the ones I haven't used, maybe even one or two I have used, to Lowes and go and buy Watts fittings.

    I sure don't want to sit and wonder. I am trying to install all fittings in easily accessable locations, but particularly with this bathroom I am currently working on, there will be 3 fittings buried beneath sheetrock and beadboard planks that I don't want to tear out later. I am actually thinking of just running brass down to the joists and running pex from there, worst case, I have to tear out a ceiling to make a repair at a later date.

    Am I correct, if the connection is not visible and someone might come in a solder on it in the future, the pex should be 18" from a solder joint? Also, are those Watts, brass 4-6 port maniblocks(?) with valves good?

    hj, I am obviously no expert here, but that would be my thought as well. I was a bit suprised by my friend saying his plumber was using them after he told me not to get the manifolds because they are plastic.

    Thanks once again for all the help, I will sleep better now....
  15. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I like these...

    [​IMG]

    I ususally install mini manifolds for bathroom groups install with extra unused valves and use one of the extras for hot recirculation.
  16. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Those are the ones I was looking at. Now I have to learn about this hot recirculation thing. Thanks!!
  17. AcidWater

    AcidWater New Member

    Messages:
    123
    Location:
    .
    Redwood, what brand is that manifold? Does it come with the PEX end on it or do you have to sweat it on a copper stub?
  18. burleymike

    burleymike New Member

    Messages:
    118
    Location:
    Idaho
    About 14 months ago I put a master bathroom in my house. I bought zurn pipe and fittings. After reading about the lawsuit and all the failures I decided opening walls and replacing all the zurn brass would be better than risking ruining hardwood floors.

    The first few fittings I removed were fine, then I started seeing white spots and pitting in a lot of the fittings. I will post some pictures when I get some time to cut the bad fittings in half and take pictures.

    When I installed everything I did not buy enough fittings at the home center so I went to the supply house in town. They sell Viega/Vanguard. The Vanguard fittings I removed were fine. The brass is even a different color inside then the Zurn brass.

    I read that a lot of the failures with the Zurn fittings had used the SSC clamps. One study said they can become brittle and crack. I decided to go with the copper crimp rings this time. I probably wasted my money buying a copper crimp ring tool though. As far as I can tell none of the failures have been due to the SSC rings just bad brass alloy.

    SSC rings are used in a lot of indstural applications and have been for a long time.

    Here is a website that shows the different connection systems and their compatibility.

    http://pexinfo.com/#fittingchart
  19. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    That is a watts manifold and the fittings are on it.
  20. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I picked up two of those manifolds last night and installed them. So far they are great! I actually got the ones with 6 ports, so I can run a few more things off each one.

    Thanks for the watts recommendation! They do seem like a nicer fitting than the zurn.
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