We have only one plumber where I live, but Bud’s emergency service response time is from 4 to 7…
Steve McGrath

I maintain a healthy stash of push-fit pex fittings and pipe.

This is a topic of an ongoing dialogue between me and my colleagues. This is a very small town, it happens to sit directly astride the State line between Texas and Oklahoma, and neither side does any kind of official inspections of residential work or ever has. You’d think that would make this shyster/fly-by-nighter country in terms of the trades, but the opposite is what I have found to be the case. There are four or five other guys who all do the same multi-trades services I do, and we are all friends and have all worked together at some point or swapped tools or just kept each other informed about things where one guy is a little more up to speed than another.

I take immense pride in being a part of what I see as a brotherhood, among literally some of the very best, highest-quality practitioners I ever had the privilege of knowing. I am older than every one of them, in fact two of them are brothers whose ages combined barely equal my own. But I am also the newest in town and as well the one who has the least experience in the all-trades field, since my experience prior to coming here eight years ago was primarily as a carpenter and supervisor, with more framing experience than all these other guys put together. (There’s a LOT more to that trade alone than anyone who never did it has any clue about.)

Anyway, the pex thing.

Some of the guys (none of us is a licensed plumber, but nobody in town uses one because we all do better work and for way less, also minus the road-time charge to come from the next town where all the plumbing contractors are), have the kits for the custom brass fittings which are in themselves a lot cheaper than the off-the-shelf ones, but I haven’t yet been able to justify the expense for the few projects a year where I use pex.

I started out using the SharkBite series, which are superb and utterly reliable and available here in town at the hardware store, but ridiculously expensive in terms of any project of any scale. A year or so ago I rebuilt the whole water system on my single-wide which I own, and decided to try the white plastic ones called FlareIt at maybe a third the net cost. Those ones have the reputation as mobile-home grade parts, but that is a little silly really, as if a leak were not simply a leak, or as if a damn mobile home itself somehow knew the difference between one fitting and another.

They worked out perfectly. I installed a couple dozen T’s and 90’s in the FlareIts, and have not had a leak yet in two years’ time.

The only thing is, they are a little harder to get on or off than the push-fits. One needs to plan the space around them in order to be able to get a channel-lock around them to turn the tension nut they use, and it takes a bit of back-and-forth and a man’s upper-body strength (that thing making us useful in this women’s world where they need us for so little else…) to force the pipe to expand over the receiving tube.

But when a SharkBite tee is $25 and change, and the FlareIt ones run around six bucks… well, you do the math.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Ron Collins’s story.