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ProPress vs Sweat

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lza
lza Member Posts: 40
I'm sure this is a topic that will inspire varied opinions.

I have a friend who just bought a condo that has an isolation valve (a 35 yo crap gate valve) that is leaking by and the packing is spewing out water. I told her that I would like to see a Nibco sweat ball valve as the replacement. Well the one plumber who checked it out flat out refused to solder a ball valve in, saying they only do ProPress. Whatever.

I don't want to seem like an old curmudgeon--I haven't even hit 40 yet, but I just don't trust an o-ring over a soldered joint. I also don't think ProPress plumbs up very well. Luckily I left commercial construction several years ago and now work in facilities maintenance, because I know ProPress has become the standard in commercial construction for both plumbing and hydronic systems.

I know that when soldering was first introduced, journeymen lamented the death of threaded pipe. The same with Victaulic and welded pipe (though trying to make Vic pipe come out looking good--its a PITA). I don't doubt press technology will improve more and more, but I still prefer soldered joints, and it is what I would choose for my own house.

Am I just a close-minded Luddite?
Solid_Fuel_Man
«13

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
    edited February 2015
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    If the old gate valve is leaking, why not just repack the leaking stem, and leave it in place, or why not just put a new threaded connection valve in? Remember that 35 years ago, the variance of quality in valves and fittings was not as great as now!
    I will be interested to see what answers come up about the propress versus soldered connection question!--NBC
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    No you are not closed minded.I myself am not a fan of the pro press either .I don t think i ve seen to many jobs where unless hide in a wall or done by some one who regular posts hereit s never looked great .Aside from that i really don t dig how alot of the joints i ve seen seemed squared out maybe it was just the installer who over pressed.Plus i ve asked at the supply house i deal with who have a working line of mod con piped to a over head main with pro press fitting when asked about the squared pipe and a few noticeable green marks and evidence of minor leaking they stated that it was normal and not a leak I know if i had a solder joints that looked that way i won t leave it that way.Aside from the cost when i have done any repairs on systems where they used propress you end up just cutting them out and tossing them.It just seems that those who do use them at least where i do service work never set up there piping that anything that needs to be replaced you end up having to cut that crap out .I know that alot and i mean alot of guys who punch out the work use them and love them me i m old school still sweating and not much of a pex heat nor pex water guy either with all the extra supports and time it takes to make it look like a tool didn t do it its not worth it for myself .I do have the tools and will do it when requested but other wise i solder .I use he pex for radiant in concrete and pex al pex for home run panel rads systems and other wise it s copper.But it is the way of the future but even though they won t sweat a main valve in if your boiler was steam they would do it all in copper and sweat it all LOL peace and good luck clammy ps ur not closed minded maybe just old school
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    jonny88Solid_Fuel_Manvaporvac
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Pro-Press is a wonderful thing. Especially if you need to install something in a copper line that you can't stop the water flow.

    The other advantage I have seen is that when they freeze, they never split or the copper nearby never splits. It just blows the Pro-Press fitting right off the end of the pipe. If you have room and spring, you can always spring the pipe back and solder a copper fitting in place.
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,416
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    Press all the way, I'll give you a few good things I have encountered. I was working in a condo, the condo neighbor had a hvaç guy working on his HVAC equipment, well he didn't shut the fire alarm off and set off a few sprinklers and flooded that condo and the condo under it. The condo's needed new floors, new cabinets and walls. Not to mention the condo owner had to be in a hotel for almost a month while being repaired.
    Another incident, I was at a warehouse were the forklift hit a water pipe, it was just a 1/2 pipe but there was no shut off to be found and the water was just pouring out. I installed a press ball valve and was able to shut the water off within 5 minutes of having the tool out.
    The press machine just makes things go quicker like real quick. If the main is leaking it doesn't stop me at all. I have press copper from 1/2 inch to 2 inch, I have press pex from 1/2 inch to 1-1/2 inch, I have press for steal ( gas pipe ) from 1/2 inch to 2 inch.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,256
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    No doubt press is here to stay. There will always be room for sweat and those that prefer it.

    I get that Viega Voice mailer every 1/4. It always shows very professionally installed jobs from small to large, it can be done neatly.

    I was in Montreal last week and visited a handful of suppliers and reps that had incredible training rooms.

    Surprisingly every one was piped in threaded black pipe, recently, and they were a work of art.

    Here is a "Google" tour thru one of the finest training labs I have ever seen at a Master branch near Montreal. Four rooms and a lounge dedicated to Hydronics, VRF, HVAC, and Clean Room equipment.
    Even a small walk-in cooler for beverages :)

    http://www.master.ca/golab


    So many options, not to ignore all then new thermal plastic systems going in like the AquaTherm system.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    It's wonderful. Many places I have soldered in will not accept a Pro-Press machine. As long as you have the room to work them, fine.

    Don't quit your torch.
  • lza
    lza Member Posts: 40
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    Nicholas,

    It is a sweat gate valve, and there is no isolation upstream of it until the main shutoff for all 18 units. It is also leaking by so makes doing work in the unit difficult.

    Like victaulic overshadowing welded pipe, I know that Propress will phase out soldered joints (even if it's harder to plumb square and level). But it's good to have a skeptic's mind.

    And I still wouldn't plumb my own house I propress.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    FWIW, if possible, if there's room, sweat some tubing to a new copper ball valve, shut off the valve that is leaking bye, cut the pipe after the leaking valve, leave the old one in place, Press the new valve in place, and you can then do whatever you want without water flowing. Its wise to use a valve with a waste hole or put a drain in so you can leave it open. If you don't, when you get to the last fitting, the air/steam pressure inside the pipe will blow the solder out of the fitting. Unless you can Pro-Press the whole repair.

    At least that's my experience.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    I don't have the press tools. Yet. I will before long though. I see how they can be both practical and profitable.

    With that said, I love soldering and the near 100% reliability of it.
    Steve Minnich
    Dave0176
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,416
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    Nice ice, press after the leaking valve I did that at a friends house one day because the original valve wasn't able to turn off all the way.
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,416
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    Iza, I'm almost positive when the pentagon had the aircraft damage the building and redid all the plumbing it was done in press.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Snowmelt said:

    Nice ice, press after the leaking valve I did that at a friends house one day because the original valve wasn't able to turn off all the way.

    I did that in a 44 bed nursing home where a high temperature DHW went into the kitchen. Turning the entire building off and draining it could have been a very long day.

    It took me longer to round up the tool and parts than it did to do the actual change over.

    I REALLY liked my Milwaukee PEX expander tool too. Beats the snots out of my old hand expander. Especially on 1" PEX.

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,256
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    I've heard hydraulic lines on modern aircraft use some version of a press fitting?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • JWH
    JWH Member Posts: 3
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    There is no such thing as an o-ring that lasts for ever, thats what scares me.
    Solid_Fuel_Manluketheplumber
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,256
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    I guess you could say nothing lasts forever.

    Really what should a reasonable life expectancy be for a hydronic connection or fitting be? 50 years, 100 years more?

    O-rings don't often fail for no reason, especially in a static environment with no wear or movement, stable fluid quality, not exceeding design temperatures.

    When they excavate old dump site, it's the rubbers, plastics and composites that are still in about the same condition as when they were buried.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    kcoppGordy
  • bob_46
    bob_46 Member Posts: 813
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    ask the astronauts on the space shuttle Challanger about the reliability of o-rings .

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    I'm always a little gun shy about using new products because my name is on the line and that reasoning has worked out well for me so far. I've avoided a lot of nightmares. My customers won't care that Gadget A failed. They'll see it as I screwed up so I wait...but I'm done waiting on press fittings. I'm a believer. As soon as the CFO (my wife) says go, I'm pulling the trigger.
    Steve Minnich
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,256
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    bob said:

    ask the astronauts on the space shuttle Challanger about the reliability of o-rings .

    I think the commission determined the design was not appropriate for that type of seal.

    Any seal that is mis-applied or not serviced has a greater potential to fail.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    icesailor
  • matt_sunwaysolar
    matt_sunwaysolar Member Posts: 61
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    I am the lead service tech at my company and use both propress and solder. I usually make my choice between the two options by considering a combination of the following:

    *Can I fit a progress gun in the area I'm working?
    Oftentimes, I cannot. It is an awful feeling to work yourself into a corner and realize you can't press the last fitting. Propress fittings also have longer radiuses and take up more room; also something to keep in mind.

    *Can I get a positive shutoff of the water upstream of the valves/ fittings?
    If not, progress is an AWESOME solution. It has gotten me, and several techs I know, out of sticky situations quickly and effectively.

    *Temperature Ratings:
    Most Propress gaskets are rated pretty nebulously when it comes to high temp. ratings. I service a lot of solar water heating systems and I never use propress on the solar loop, as temperatures can exceed 250F. However, I have no qualms about using them on standard hot water delivery systems/ temps. I would not likely recommend there use extremely close to a heat source. I'd probaly get nervous at about the 180-200F range.

    *Time
    If I have more time than $$$, I usually solder. If I have more $$$ than time, I usually propress.

    A couple of other things that I've noticed:

    Propress fittings can be hard to "square up" or install "plumb, level, square." Ultimately, when you press them, no matter how much fidgeting you do with them, they will align where they need to align to make positive seals. This can be frustrating, but generally, it's not a big deal or unacceptable. With solder, it is much easier to manipulate your fittings for a nice looking job.

    Typically, you can fix a bad solder joint (resolder), but not a propress joint. If your gun is not correctly situated, you will ruin the fitting when you press it and need to cut out that fitting, and possibly several others, depending on the proximity of other fittings. Occasionally, a properly pressed propress joint does not seal. In those cases, you can sometimes get it to seal by repressing it, but not always.

    Also, a good idea to mark your fittings with a sharpie after they have been pressed. They can hold pressure and pressure test without being pressed sometimes. My company had one project where a fitting was left unpressed for 2.5 years before the propress fitting finally gave and leak ensued.

    I think that's mostly it, from my perspective.
    Gordykcoppicesailor
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,416
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    Mat, you most of had an old fitting now they make there fittings so they leak when not pressed. Another thing I do is I press as much as possible before its on the wall. I try to look ahead and know where the press gun won't go.
    Press will always be cheaper because it's quicker to get out of that job.
  • Robert O'Connor_12
    Robert O'Connor_12 Member Posts: 728
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    I first used Pro-Press when we did the Prudential Center in Newark. Heaven knows how many joints were pressed there and with nary a leak. I cut in a 4" ball valve once on the fly 40+ feet up with the water on. I did shut the pumps off though...
    Although, I've never used it on my own house. I do prefer a good soldered joint. Heck, with the introduction of new tools & materials, this work now can be done by anyone now.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
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    hot rod said:

    I've heard hydraulic lines on modern aircraft use some version of a press fitting?

    AFAIK http://reflok.com/ came out of the aircraft industry.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    "" Heck, with the introduction of new tools & materials, this work now can be done by anyone now. ""

    Mechanical/Hydraulic excavators replaced Manual Labor, the third world, unskilled guy with a 5' banjo, playing in the earth Band.

    Where will it end?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
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    The DIY craze hit the streets way back when the big boxes started hitting the arena. Remember when every town had a couple of lumber yards. Now they are gone just like when Walmart hits the town the grocery stores start disappearing.

    So long as people have the source to get the product, and the tools to do it, or read how to do it rented or otherwise. It's going to be here to stay.
  • Robert O'Connor_12
    Robert O'Connor_12 Member Posts: 728
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    Gordy said:

    The DIY craze hit the streets way back when the big boxes started hitting the arena. Remember when every town had a couple of lumber yards. Now they are gone just like when Walmart hits the town the grocery stores start disappearing.

    So long as people have the source to get the product, and the tools to do it, or read how to do it rented or otherwise. It's going to be here to stay.

    I guess I'm wondering why we must maintain so many licenses & certifications.
    I once said at a local master plumbers group...
    "Why hire the licensed Master plumber? If you hire the off duty cop or fireman, you get a toilet that flushes & a shower that actually gives you hot water at half the price!". I can't compete with that. Someone unlicensed, un bonded & uninsured, doesn't get required permits & inspections & gets their health benefits from the municipality.
    Going to have to start the revolt! lol

    IronmanGordyicesailorkcopp
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,379
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    I am the lead service tech at my company and use both propress and solder. I usually make my choice between the two options by considering a combination of the following:

    *Can I fit a progress gun in the area I'm working?
    Oftentimes, I cannot. It is an awful feeling to work yourself into a corner and realize you can't press the last fitting. Propress fittings also have longer radiuses and take up more room; also something to keep in mind.

    *Can I get a positive shutoff of the water upstream of the valves/ fittings?
    If not, progress is an AWESOME solution. It has gotten me, and several techs I know, out of sticky situations quickly and effectively.

    *Temperature Ratings:
    Most Propress gaskets are rated pretty nebulously when it comes to high temp. ratings. I service a lot of solar water heating systems and I never use propress on the solar loop, as temperatures can exceed 250F. However, I have no qualms about using them on standard hot water delivery systems/ temps. I would not likely recommend there use extremely close to a heat source. I'd probaly get nervous at about the 180-200F range.

    *Time
    If I have more time than $$$, I usually solder. If I have more $$$ than time, I usually propress.

    A couple of other things that I've noticed:

    Propress fittings can be hard to "square up" or install "plumb, level, square." Ultimately, when you press them, no matter how much fidgeting you do with them, they will align where they need to align to make positive seals. This can be frustrating, but generally, it's not a big deal or unacceptable. With solder, it is much easier to manipulate your fittings for a nice looking job.

    Typically, you can fix a bad solder joint (resolder), but not a propress joint. If your gun is not correctly situated, you will ruin the fitting when you press it and need to cut out that fitting, and possibly several others, depending on the proximity of other fittings. Occasionally, a properly pressed propress joint does not seal. In those cases, you can sometimes get it to seal by repressing it, but not always.

    Also, a good idea to mark your fittings with a sharpie after they have been pressed. They can hold pressure and pressure test without being pressed sometimes. My company had one project where a fitting was left unpressed for 2.5 years before the propress fitting finally gave and leak ensued.

    I think that's mostly it, from my perspective.

    Some good observations, but I would like to note that the standard O ring in Viega's fittings is rated for at least 230* if memory serves me correctly. And you can get a higher temp O ring to install if your doing solar.

    This was the very thing that nudged me over into getting a ProPress: I had a large solar job to do on a 12/12 roof and a lot of the panels were not able to be close coupled due sky lights and other obstacles. Buderus won't warranty a solar install unless the field supplied copper fittings are silfossed - not soft solder. If you can imagine trying to stay on a slope like that and keep both hands free, then you realize the futility of even considering using a torch. We did the job in ProPress using the high temp O rings which Buderus approved and haven't had a leak or lost any pressure on the system in 3 years.

    As far as the pipe "walking" when the fitting is pressed: we learned that lesson the hard way early on. You have to secure the piping in place before pressing.

    Like any other system, PP has its quirks that you have to learn to work with, but so does soldering. We just don't give that much thought because we're used to doing it for so long.

    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    ProPress fittings all have an insert depth. They will fully insert before pressing. Some installers put a "Witness mark" on the tube before pressing. You can see if the fitting has moved BEFORE you press. You can "Witness mark" copper solder fittings before you solder. Or squeeze the tube just enough to keep it from backing out before the solder solidifies and you are soldering something else and it slides back when you aren't looking at it.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,289
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    I'm not in love with either.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    My first year in the business my boss (a frustrated volunteer fireman) used an oxygen acetylene torch to soft solder a 1/2" copper joint on an inside corner of fin tube baseboard. Lit the whole wall on fire and proceeded to kick in all the walls and had me run for a bucket of water.

    Press fittings would have been perfect for that lunatic!

    Sometimes you learn as much from what NOT to do.
    Steve Minnich
    Zman
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,416
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    Or the guy that didn't turn the fire alarm off, that's still my best story.
  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,048
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    I take a great amount of pride in my solder work, but press when done properly,,,,,, looks and works great too.
    Tinman
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    My first year in the business my boss (a frustrated volunteer fireman) used an oxygen acetylene torch to soft solder a 1/2" copper joint on an inside corner of fin tube baseboard. Lit the whole wall on fire and proceeded to kick in all the walls and had me run for a bucket of water.

    Press fittings would have been perfect for that lunatic!

    Sometimes you learn as much from what NOT to do.

    You can fit Pro Press jaws on an inside corner of #30 Slant Fin?

    Do they make a Jet Tee fitting in Pro Press? How much does it cost if they make them. Do they make 3/4 PP X 1/2" FPT X 3/4" PP adapter tees? I used them all the time. If they don't make that fitting, I still need my torch. I used a lot of Van Hangers to keep pipe away from finished surfaces so it wouldn't get burned. Will PP jaws fit around 3/4" copper and not mar the finish paint? So someone doesn't have to do touch up?

    I just got a Text Message from my son. He told me that there are so many freeze up's and broken pipes, that both supply houses ran out of Shark Bite fittings and slip/repair couplings.

    I want to watch some helper that never learned to solder, go 30' in a nasty dusty crawl space with a box of PP fittings and dragging the PP presser to fix broken pipes in a crawl space. When you don't even know what is broken, or if you have the fittings you need. All I needed was a cardboard box with an assortment of copper fittings , odds & ends tools, a hand torch, paste, solder, sand cloth and a rag. While you're crawling back to the truck to look for fittings you never have, we old solderer's will have the leaks fixed and be on our way.

    I hope the Snow Farm is open so the aircraft can fly in with needed parts. I'll bet that repair couplings are in short supply in New England tonight.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    I don't know? I don't have a press tool yet. I still use my torches for everything. It's an art form I still enjoy.
    Steve Minnich
    Gordyjonny88icesailor
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,416
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    They do make a 3/4 x 1/2 female tee.
    They also make 3/4 X 1/2 x 3/4 & 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/2 female.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Good to know. I'll bet they aren't cheap though.
  • bmwpowere36m3
    bmwpowere36m3 Member Posts: 512
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    time is money...
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,416
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    Nothing Viega is cheap, but I will say this. The nj rep dave is right on top of things, he will track down a oddball fitting if you don't have one. He will also bring it to you if you have time. If your press machine is down he will lend you one. If you needed a jaw he would lend you a jaw. He's the man, he is also a nice guy. I went to one of his houses and put in a few fittings for him obviously I couldn't charge him so we bought me lunch.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Like I said. PP is a wonderful thing.

    Maybe not as practical if you live and work in the backwaters of New England where the suppliers don't stock a big inventory of PP parts or PP repair equipment. In some places, they have no equal. In some places, they are a useless hindrance.

    Just saying.
  • BigRob
    BigRob Member Posts: 322
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    The problem with soldering is there is too much unskilled labor in high cost of living areas. It's so easy to blow a joint on large pipe when you are working fast and getting paid little. Propress is so easy and repeatable. Even with this in mind, humans make mistakes, and the products with the fewer human steps will tend to win. I do think the press tool itself is absurdly overpriced and limiting. If it was a 200 dollar tool like it should be, a lot of people would be out of a job. Look at PEX and Romex. Don't fight progress; embrace and move on. Push fittings are awesome, too.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    If there was a bigger market for the press tools, more tool manufacturers would throw their hat into the ring making things more competitive and eventually lowering prices. I didn't do well in any of my Econ classes but I think I got that right?
    Steve Minnich
    icesailor