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Re-Plumbing #1: PEX advice?

Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 03-14-2012 03:19 AM 4021 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Re-Plumbing series Part 2: Holes in the walls, but the water flows »

So I crawled underneath the house the other day to replace a thermostat wire that wasn’t conducting very well, and discovered a big ol’ puddle of water in the crawl space.

Guess replacing the galvanized steel pipe has just moved up the to-do list.

So… after some long deep reading on the environmental effects and various substances that leech out of PEX vs copper, I think we’re going to go with PEX.

Probably ¾” from the service entrance to the hot water heater, and from there to a manifold in the center of the house, where I’ll run short ½” lines to the various appliances. With some Ts over by the hot water heater to feed the clothes washer and utility sink in the garage.

I know I’m going to have to buy a clipper and a crimper, and, depending on the type of crimp material I go with, a ring-cutter. Anyone got preferences for one over the other besides picking a local vendor who’s likely to carry everything I need?

Thanks!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/



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Dan Lyke

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8 comments so far

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Pman

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posted 03-19-2012 12:37 PM

I stopped in at Lowe’s this week, and saw that they now carry PEX. They have it in 1/2×100’ ($26.00) and also in 3/4” (49.00). The crimper was $59!! I am not sure that I am comfortable with a pinching ring that is relying on band pressure to hold the pressure over the years. Also, here in WA you have to install inspection plates over all of the joints inside the house to bring it to code. In a crawl space that would not matter.

I have also seen some couplers that do not require a crimper, but instead use brass compression fittings that tighten with a wrench. I might go with the internet couplers and get the pipe from Lowe’s to save on shipping (and its really cheap!). Best of luck.

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Grandpa

140 posts in 1302 days

posted 03-19-2012 06:30 PM

I think in my area the crimp bands are far less cost that the compression fittings. I would probably buy the crimp tool and try to sell it for half the cost when I finished. I would also go with the largest PEX diameter I could afford unless you use the manifold and home run system. Then 1/2 inch is okay. I don’t know of any crimp bands failing. I am sure it happens but never heard of it. Also in my area you can rent the crimp tool for $24 from ACE hardware. I am sure other stores do the same. I think that is one time payout on the $24 and not by the day.

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Dan Lyke

308 posts in 2453 days

posted 03-20-2012 02:02 PM

Yeah, I figure I can re-sell the crimp tool, or just keep it. There’ll be about $250 in PEX specific tools for this project, I’m guessing.

The run is mostly in crawl space, so I don’t have to worry about access hatches. I am a little concerned about the run up to the shower, I may put a few loops in the crawl space for now and patch into what’s there until I have the guts to tear open that wall.

I think I’m going with a ¾” run from the intake to the house to the hot water heater, and from there to a manifold on the wall shared by the kitchen and the bathroom. I’ll do ½” runs from there. We already have a hot water recirculator, so we can go big on the hot water run without wasting a lot of water, and that should give us the advantages of a big feed from the water heater without too much waste.

Luckily, the house is small, which I hope will make this task simpler. I hope.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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Grandpa

140 posts in 1302 days

posted 03-22-2012 02:05 AM

I have the hot water recirculating pump so I went with a large trunk line and then smaller branches. The disadvantage is if I have a problem I have to shut off the water to the entire house for a small gasket or something.

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Steve187

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posted 03-26-2012 12:03 AM

Have you considered placing your PEX in the attic? Where do you have the most “wiggle” room—under the house or in the attic? (Keep in mind you have to limit the exposure of PEX to UV light).

Some friends of mine recently completed construction on their home and the plumber placed the PEX water lines in the attic. I would have thought long and hard on that decision, but PEX has a good track record for not bursting due to freezing. And my copper water lines are under the slab of my house and a few years back I had a leak under the slab. Now I have a 3/4” copper water line in my attic!

I recently re-piped a residential rental I owned and I used PEX. It was extremely easy to work with. (A plumber I am not!!! My nephew the plumber backed out on me and left me hanging).

-- Steve (North Louisiana, near Ruston)

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Grandpa

140 posts in 1302 days

posted 03-26-2012 02:37 AM

PEX doesn’t burst when it freezes. I have not heard of it. It might in the Arctic. We run some in the attic but it is usually a re-plumb in a slab on grade home. If it is new it is common to put it under the floor in PVC sleeves so it can be replaced. 4” PVC with long sweep elbows (electrical).

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Dan Lyke

308 posts in 2453 days

posted 03-26-2012 01:57 PM

Well, as of this morning I’m up and running with the Upinor ProPEX fittings, plus a few SharkBites ‘cause the pro plumbing supply place wasn’t open on Sunday. $400 for the attachment tool, gulp, but there we are.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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Dan Lyke

308 posts in 2453 days

posted 04-02-2012 04:57 PM

I’ll take some pictures and post a blog entry as I continue, but the house is up and running on PEX. A few notes:

  • I need to get back to the plumbing supply place, return the hose thread fittings they gave me, and replace those with some pipe thread fittings that I thought I bought and figure the right way to mount things to finish up the water heater attachments.
  • I also need to get the city to come by and unstick the meter valve. I still have 4’ or so of galvanized pipe coming in to the house because I didn’t want to risk unscrewing the segment of pipe just after the house shut-off; it’s extremely corroded.
  • I also need to tie in the exterior faucet and irrigation system hook-ups at the rear of the house, which will involve some soldering and fittings similar to the water heater stuff.
  • And, finally, I need to use a better fixture for the shower faucet valve. I bought a fairly high end Moen from the plumbing supply place, but had some trouble soldering in the PEX connectors, so at the last minute on Sunday night drove to Lowe’s and picked up the highest end valve core they had. It’s one of those “only on or off” things and it sucks and I’ll pull it out and replace it with the two-axis one shortly. I may, however, ask someone else to solder the valve together for me.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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