Clipless PE Fittings For The Coffee Water Line
"Copper pipes over time, develop pinholes due to corrosion and water velocity and then leak."
My neighbor Gary Bauman, a retired master plumber and a pretty decent guy, stopped over last Saturday, because I asked him to help me install a coffee maker water line kit I picked up online from Umjava. I seem to call Gary for advice, ever since we moved into this old house (about two years ago). He looked at the kit instructions and told me I could do it myself, but he would be happy to stick around and supervise.
I pulled the refrigerator away from the wall and he noticed an old stain on the floor. Gary commented, "Copper pipes over time, develop pinholes due to corrosion and water velocity and then leak."
I quickly pointed to the clear PE tubing running from the wall to the refrigerator and said, "But this isn't copper?" He explained that the prior owner had replaced the copper tubing with the PE tubing a few years ago. There was a similar stain in the bathroom ceiling, but Gary assured us the house had been updated with modern day PEX. He knew it, because he was the guy who did it.
He went on to inform us that many new homes today have steered away from soldering and copper pipes and now feature polyethylene, abbreviated PEX. It all started happening in the 80's and became popular and prevalent in the 90's. This coincided with the introduction and popularity of push to connect, push to fit, easy- connect, PE fittings.
"They don't corrode over time. That's why we see them used so often in today's refrigerators, ice -makers, R.O. filtration systems, aquariums, restaurants and commercial applications," he said.
In deed, most of the first generation of push fittings featured a collet at the end of the fitting, with a signature blue clip wrapped around it's opening, like a snap-on plastic horseshoe. The blue clip mainly provided peace of mind from accidental release of the tubing. Today's fittings, like the ones we see in the Umjava Coffee Maker Water Line Kit, use fittings with push-in-and-go technology. They do not require a blue clip.
We followed up on Gary's expertise with our own query, just to learn more. According to Bret Behling, a researcher of applied technologies, "The clip was added as a safe guard to prevent an unintended tube disconnect and tampering release. It's no longer needed, with the advancement of the double seal innovation of many of these new fittings. They are now built with a stainless steel ring of teeth that grabs the tubing and a separate O-ring seal, for double protection. In order to release the bite, you would need to push in the collet towards the fitting, at the exact same time as you pull the tubing out and away from the fitting. It's not going to happen unless you intend to make it happen"
We asked him if he has ever seen one leak and he said, "If we sat in a room with 100 people and asked them to insert the tubing into the fitting and then we tested for leaks, about five out of 100 might experience a leak at installation. Of those five it is almost always because they didn't push the tubing all the way in, until it was fully seated, or they didn't cut the tubing squarely and cleanly to begin with. If they would then make a new, clean cut and push it in all the way, it would fix it. Then if we came back one year later, all the 100 fittings would still be operating leak free. Many years later we would find no pinholes or corrosion"
So the coffee maker water line we installed has no blue clip. And now we know why.