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Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

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  • Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

    Hello All,
    I'm looking for some help with instructions on how to use the propex hand expander tool from Wirsbo. I bought one on ebay and it did not come with instructions. Here's how I THINK I use it based on experimentation, and I'm looking for some guidance to straighten me out where I'm wrong:

    1) place expander ring over pex tubing and align with end of tube.
    2) open expander tool handles all the way and insert the tool head into the pex pipe. The tool head will not go all the way into the pipe on the first insertion
    3) compress the handles to expand the pipe and ring
    4) rotate the tool head in the pipe and push the tool head further into the pipe
    5) compress the handles to expand the pipe and ring again
    6) rotate the tool head on the pipe and push the tool head further into the pipe, it should go all the way in at this point
    7) expand again.
    8) insert the propex fitting. All done

    Am I doing this right? I need to use this for 3/8 and 1/2 pex, maybe a few fittings of 3/4. I am guessing I'd need to do more interations of exanding with 3/4 than 3/8, is that correct?

    Also, I see there is a lubricant of some sort, which I didn't get any of in my ebay buy. How is that used and do I have to use the Wirsbo brand, it looks pretty pricey.

    Thanks very much in advance.


  • #2
    Re: Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

    Basically here is how I do it

    Slide the expansion ring over the end of the pipe and slide it so that the expansion ring is about 1/16" exposed on the pipe end. If you push the expansion ring past the pipe end to where the pipe protrudes a little bit past the expansion rings, you may run into problems with the ring sliding back when you try and expand it and the pipe so this is why you try and put the expansion ring just past the pipe end by about 1/16" to even an 1/8" max. Even is fine too and should work.

    Then insert the expander tool and expand the tool all the way, then rotate the head and expand, rotate, expand, rotate, expand, until the expansion head is bottomed out. Then pull the expansion tool out and insert the fitting and bottom the fitting out and hold it there for at least a few seconds while the expansion ring closes.

    A few tips

    1) Keep the expansion rings warm. Have them in your pocket by themselves, or in a warm environment. This will help them close properly and seal the pipe against the fitting. Otherwise if you can't do this, it's not a bad idea to hit them with a heat gun for 5-10 seconds if they've only been in a cold environment before putting water/a test to the system. If you don't do this in most cases it's not that they won't hold, but they will weep a bit of water. Do NOT hit them with a heat gun if the pipe is under pressure. Only do it when they are not under pressure.

    2) A good practice is after you pull the expansion tool out (after it has bottomed out), but before you insert the fitting, quickly put your pinky finger into the pipe end that you just expanded and give it a quick turn and feel for any grooves. If you feel any grooves or irregularity, this means you didn't turn the expansion head on the tool properly or enough, or perhaps the way you turned it somehow the expander part of the tool all lined up for every expansion (happens on occassion). If you feel any sort of groove or irregularlity, insert the expansion tool and pump it up one more time and this should solve it. Again do this very quickly as you only have so much time between the time you pull the expansion tool out, and the time you have to insert the fitting and bottom it out.

    3) As far as grease goes, I grease the tool periodically, but don't just too much grease. You should be able to get it at your local wholesaler - it must be safe for potable water lines, so please keep that in mind. You only grease the tool before you put the expansion heads on. Also another tip is if you want to put the tool away in the case, and still leave a expansion head on, loosen the expansion head so you encounter no resistance when you close the tool up and put it in the case.

    Now if you want some installation tips that's another story but generally try and install the pipe so that you don't put any stress on the expansion rings. This will go a long way to helping the longetivity of the system.


    • #3
      Re: Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

      thank you for the quick reply and information! I already experienced the expander ring sliding back so the guidance on the 1/16 extension is greatly appreciated.

      As for stressing the connectors, I assume this is the same issue as all pex connectors? I am stubbing out with copper and doing copper for all close-in plumbing to all shower/tub fixtures/fittings to help with this issue.

      Thanks again.


      • #4
        Re: Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

        Wirsbo/Uponor now offers expansion rings with stops built in so you don't even have to worry about placement anymore.


        P.S. I have NO hands on experience with expansion sytems. Just familiar with their products.


        • #5
          Re: Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

          I think it is good plumbing practice to try and eliminate as much stress at ALL joints as possible. Supply and DWV.

          In other words don't complete a PEX Tee connection and take one of the outlets end and overbend the pipe to proceed to the next connection. And put enough support in everywhere.



          • #6
            Re: Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

            thanks for all the advice. One more question, I have different brands of pex pipe: 1) Wirsbo 3/8" Pex-a (obviously ok for propex) 2) Zurn Pex 1/2" and 3) Mr Pex o2-barrier 3/4".

            Can I use zurn Pex and Mr. Pex o2 barrier with the propex fittings? I thought somewhere I saw a chart that said this was ok, but I can't find it now. Even if it turns out I 'can' do this, 'should' I? Is there a compelling reasons to stay with wirsbo for all tubing?

            The 3/4" feeds a manabloc which is a compression fitting, but I was planning on propex shutoff valves. It will also be used to feed a hydronic radiant floor manifold and again I was planning on propex shutoff valves.

            thanks again,


            • #7
              Re: Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

              The quick answer is no. You're supposed to think of these pipe & fittings as "systems" and are not to be comingled with other "systems".

              So if you do mix them and you have a problem at one of the joints, you have no reason to seek recourse.

              Good luck.



              • #8
                Re: Propex Hand Expander Tool Instructions

                So essentially even though the various tubing brands comply with the same manufacturing standards if I filed a claim for say a corroded brass fitting that caused a leak wirsbo would tell me that the claim is denied because the brand of tubing I used caused the fitting to corrode? Actually, I'm doubly screwed because as a homeowner who did the install they will tell me that it corroded because I'm a homeowner and didn't go through their class...

                Oh well, it's easy for me to get 1/2" auqupex but I've already got the 3/4" Mr. Pex O2 barrier pex run from the basement throught he finished house and up into the addition. So I guess I'll either use propex fittings on that or use a crimp fitting as I've already got the appropriate tool. Shame, I really like the aquapex system.