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Bluefin manifold 3/8 fittings too small -- leak

TAG
TAG Member Posts: 489
When my installers went to purge the newly installed plate system for my upper living room ... all the compression fittings supplied with the Bluefin manifold leaked ..... I'm using 3/8 Viega O2 PEX.

Happen to have a 3/8 compression fitting sitting around from a previous system -- the old one is larger in diameter and fits snug into the tubing. The Bluefins are both undersized and short .... they are not clamping the pipe

I used Cross for the other 3 manifolds -- they use a crimp ring. No leaks ///

Wondering what is the best move forward ... ?

Looks like a standard manifold thread --- but. have not confirmed it is

Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,015
    Lack of quality control on the fitting and or tube.
    Get a Caleffi assembly and see it it matches. The thread are standard R-20, but the taper varies.
    The Caleffi used a tapered brass to handle Id tolerance issues.
    The segmented olive handles od issues. The face O ring makes a seal without over tightening. The brass insert has a taper bore to lessen pressure drop.

    It really is a universal fitting as far as fitting inconsistent tube.

    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Caleffi-680503A-3-8-PEX-Fitting-for-Manifolds?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlI-FlpWV7QIVQZyzCh2hfwNAEAQYBCABEgKrOvD_BwE
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 489
    edited November 2020
    Hot_rod: Not sure what to think -- since they are all that way it seems that's how they are designed/ produced. I'm using a quality pipe ... Viega.

    Bluefin does call it a EK20 fitting

    The only other 3/8 compression example to test is one I had from an Embassy manifold system. Same basic design -- larger OD on the fitting and longer --- fits snug into the Pex.

    See the Caleffi have an "O" ring for the regular tubing . I did see them at supply house ..... I'm going to have to order something on Monday

    Are the Caleffi designed for a specific manifold? The Embassy have been around for a long time (red and blue plastic blocks) -- the compression fittings are common .. same as what's on the bypass valves for the Buderus panel radiators ...
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,015
    It has to do with the engineered design, and the quality control, of the fitting and manifold. Some manufacturers put more emphasis on that.

    The Caleffi fitting was designed to address all the issues you brought up. Most tube uncoils as an oval shape to some degree. The internal and external parts of this fitting can account for much of that. The tech sheet will show the + - tube dimension that the fitting can handle.

    The "A" pex tends to be a more consistent tube. B pex is crosslinked after it is coiled, so it tends to want to stay coiled and out of round :) "A" pex is crosslinked as it is extruded so it tends to be easier to work with, both uncoiling and roundness.

    Simple enough to buy one and try. The main difference will be how the fitting matches into the manifold. The O-ring can adjust for some mis-match into the manifold port, again, to a certain degree.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,362
    I really like the Caleffi olive design. Never had a leak with Caleffi manifolds.

    I had a job where the pex was an odd size. Caleffi has dimensional ranges for their fittings and the pex id was out of that range. I ordered EPDM o-rings and replaced the Caleffi o-ring with a size that put the pex within that range. It worked like a charm.
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 489
    Hot_rod .. so the Caleffi is the same threads ... as the EK20. The literature is confusing ....

    I can see how it is a nice design
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,015
    EK is Eurokronus fitting, I’m not sure if it is compatible with our fitting. I’ll see if I can get more info from Italy on Monday.

    Mr Pex and others offer EK fittings, not sure if the quality is better. Assuming it is the fitting not the tube. Or operator error🤔
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 489
    The Embassy 3/8 fitting looks to be the same design -- or should I say the Bluefin looks to be a copy of that design. The nut of the Bluefin is about the same quality but the actual fitting and lock ring are not as robust. The main problem is the smaller OD ... the Embassy style holds the tubing very tight when you push the tubing onto the fitting .. the Bluefin is loose.

    I'm wondering if I can use the Caleffi 3/8 fitting/ lock ring and the nut from the Bluefin.

    My memory is Embassy is made in Italy as well. Since I have the manifolds in two houses I keep some parts around ....
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 489
    Called Supplyhouse .... no help with Bluefin. There is no technical support ... ordered a couple of possible fixes.

    Hope one works.

    Really don't think this is a problem with the actual manifold -- Had I ordered the Manifolds from Warmboard vs using the Cross ... they sell Bluefin. The branded AlPex is Bluefin as well.

    Seems lots of manifolds use the same parts ...

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,015
    I would say most of the tubing companies buy a manifold and put their label on it.
    They do not usually have the fabrication facilities, foundries or forging capacity.
    I'd guess China is the go to for those tubular stainless types. Generally the tooling goes out of spec and tolerances start to slip, and lack of quality control to catch it soon enough.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 489
    Update: Supply House sent me both a replacement set (22) of Bluefin 3/8 fittings as well as the only other option available from them -- Caleffi. There was no difference with the replacement set of Bluefins -- so no point in even trying. The Caleffi sadly did not work either -- the nut looked to be the same and it went on to the manifold w/o issue but the angle of the actual Pex fitting was different and the "O" ring did not match up to the manifold. Nice quality w/ the Caleffi and the fitting did grip the 3/8 tubing a bit tighter .

    Ended up having to order the Embassy brand 3/8 fitting --guys got them installed yesterday. The Embassy 3/8 fitting really gripped the Viega 3/8 tubing -- hard push to get the Pex onto the fitting. They solved the problem.

    It took me two weeks to get the Embassy. You can still buy the Embassy Manifold parts ... put them in a bunch of houses years ago. Did have one of the manifolds leak a couple of years ago on the old high temp system .... manifolds are plastic modules that you put together with end blocks to make the size you want.

    In my quest to find a solution it's clear that the vast majority of the rebranded manifolds are all variations of the Bluefin / Rifeng from China. Since they match up to the Embassy -- China has copied a design from many years ago. Warmboard uses Bluefin PEX -- the Manifolds they sell are clearly Bluefin as well. They must have no problems with the 1/2 fittings.

    The Cross Manifolds only seem to come in 1/2 -- the fitting supplied all have double O rings.

    Be careful if using 3/8 Pex when ordering manifolds