Well, first I should say that I'm no plumber, not even close. I'm an IT guy. But I own a old house with well water, and after 33 years, the acidic water had eaten through the pipes to the point where a pin hole leak and burst could happen any day. These often happened at the most inopportune time, though obbiously, no time was ever good. I would turn off the water at the home's main valve to save us from a flood. And aas to have water through at least some of the house, I eventually installed valves on the hot and cold run to the second floor, which bought a bit more time. But having to cut open the ceiling in my kitchen to make six repairs over the past year meant I needed to buy time and find a long term solution.
Replacing the copper with copper could theoretically buy me another 30 years. But that would require a plumber, and these days, both the material and labor would be prohibitively expensive. PVC/CPVC seemed like a good option, but the flexibility of PEX presented a clear advantage in more than matching the bends the original (a true artist) plumber employed.
At first, I went through the normal crimp vs clamp debate that most who shop at the big box stores encounter. Which is better? Well, we all know there's some in each camp. Further research brought me to I look at the more costly means, including this Uponor (Wirsbro) system, this Milwaukee tool supports. Yes, a $400 tool is quite an investment for most people. Especially, if you're going to use it once, and then move on. However, I believe in weighin the value of decisions, and the $400 vs the hiring of a plumber seemed like an attractive proposition. The other obvious and big downside of this system is that though you can buy the tool here at The Home Depot, you cannot buy the PEX-a tubing and fittings there. For that, you'll have to find a local or online seller, I opted for the latter. Before I go any further, I found that though there was a local rep who referred me to several supply houses, neither had the stock or knowledge to adequately support me. I quickly realized an online seller, who always got what I needed to me within one day was the way to go. One huge advantage of this system, however, is that the fittings used in the crimp and clamp methods seriously restrict waterflow, which with a well and not very strong flow to start with, I didn't want to deal with. The Uponor system doesn't restrict flow; more on that later.
Now on to the meat of the matter... This system is simply a pleasure to use!!! The material is easy to work with, the Uponor (made in the USA and Canada) fittings are a beauty to hold and behold, and makes the stuff you find at the big box stores look and feel like the made in China junk it is. In other words, the quality and precision borders on the awe inspiring. Also, the Uponor valves deserve mention for their simplicity, quality, and ingenious way of working. As I previously stated, I'm no plumber, and I'm not even remotely close to being a plumber. But this system will allow anyone of average intelligence and ability to do a beautiful job. You simply cut the tubing where you need, slip on a compression fitting, have ready what you'll fit it to, use the tool to expand the tubing/compression fitting approximately 3 times more than it takes to get it down to the base of the tool, and make the connection within 3 or 4 seconds. Honestly, there is nothing that allows you to work anywhere near this fast or sure.
I did my entire first floor in a day, and most every connection went quickly, smoothly, and easily. Now, the moment of truth. Unlike the time involved in sweating copper or waiting for PVC adhesive to cure, the connection is really to be pressurized more or less immediately. I would not have been surprised to find a few leaks, but I crossed my fingers, as I opened each valve, and all I heard was the very quiet (boy, is PEX ever quiet!) sound of the pipe being pressurized. No leaks at all, not a one! Within a few minutes, I had the first floor online, and remarked at both how much more pressure and volume I now enjoyed and how silent the system was. Again, they do tell you unlike going with the popular crimps or clamps, this Uponor offers no flow restriction whatsoever. I'm here to tell you to take that to the bank. As I said, in fact, I have realized a nice improvement. After now cutting the ceiling out around all of the pipes, I'm about to embark on the second floor conversion, which is a lot less involved than the first floor.
Yes, this $400 Milwaukee/Uponor system represents a real investment. Yes, it seems like it may not make a sound connection when you see the photos or videos. And, yes, there are also other professional (Viega and Rahau) systems on the market. But for the person or plumber who is reading this, I can assure you, this is a fantastic and professional way to go. It's incredibly fast, easy, and sound.
Durable, Powerful, Easy to Use, All In One, Accurate, Good Size & Weight