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Author Topic: questions about pex  (Read 4987 times)
cody
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« on: January 12, 2010, 05:19:56 AM »

Just a couple of questions about pex tubing and sharkbite connectors, I'm seeing  lots of references to the stuff as being very forgiving in  regards to freezing and I'm wondering about it's use in a house setting and the grades available.  I don't know if the grades involve quality or usage, I'm assuming usage but I'm seeing such drastic price differences in the tubing that I guess I figured I should ask and get opinions.  One website lists a 300 foot role of the 3/4 inch water line for around 150 when another website lists a 100 foot roll of the same for 80 bucks, I'm thinking a quantity price break?  Also, they list colors available, I'm thinking red would be good for hot water and blue for cold just to make it easy to tell at a glance.  We've used CPVC for the Skanee house in the past and in the winter we've always had a problem here and there with water lines freezing and breaking, it seems that nomatter how careful you are, some water is left after draining the house for the winter.  I'm thinking that hooking up the pex lines to a manifold and putting an air valve on each one under the sinks, so each could be individually disconnected and blown out and left disconnected for the winter would help solve the problem?  The manifolds where they would be disconnected would be under the house, both the red and the blue lines are listed for potable water, I would want to get the best grade I could find for the lines, also I'm not having any problems finding local suppliers for the pex tubing but when I ask about sharkbite fittings I get a blank stare, is there a particular store name I should be using to ask for them?
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2010, 05:37:35 AM »

Cody,
   "Sharkbite" is a brand name. Go to Lowes and you will find this type fitting in the plumbing department hanging on a rack in little plastic bags near the PEX tubing. Different brand but work the same way. You just push the end of the PEX tubing into the fitting  (after installing the ferrule in the end of the tubing). If you want to remvoe the line, push in on the collar on the end of the fitting while pulling on the tubing.  This type fitting is available in both brass and plastic. The fittings at Lowes are white plastic.
   I used the red & blue PEX, Easier for simple brain to keep track of which is hot water and which is cold water.  Jack
Disclaimer: These fittings were purchased at Lowes in Ft. Myers & Port Charlotte, FL.  All Lowes may not stock them.
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2010, 06:20:35 AM »

I had an old house with galvinized pipe that was closing up replumbed with pex, had seen it used in new houses.   Used red and blue,  a lot easier to work with than pipe.  Get the tool and use crimp fittings if your going to do a house.  Cheaper than copper and not likeley that the crawlspace will get broken into and be stolen.   Plus the old house kinda scared me to have a torch under there. Shocked
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2010, 06:23:23 AM »

Cody , Iam on the same page  as Jack , I had to buy my sharkbite fittings at Ace and they are pricey,However I love them I would use plastic if I could fined them.I forgot to mention I have pex in my house as well makes it nice. FWIW
« Last Edit: January 12, 2010, 06:25:51 AM by Eagle Andy » Logged

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cody
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2010, 06:31:07 AM »

Do the crimp fittings come apart easily for draining?  Also, I'm hearing the pex tubing is very forgiving to freezing but I'm assuming the connectors will freeze and break if they freeze up.  At Menards they have several crimping tools ranging from about 30 bucks to 100, any things to watch out for with them?  From reading the website it sounded like the main thing for pex was to cut the tubing square and insert the insert into the end to get a seal then pushing the tubing all the way into the connector, where does the crimping come into play?  Would the brass be better than the plastic for this application or does it really matter, I'm sure the price for the plastic connectors is somewhat cheaper but I don't want to cheapen the entire project just to save a buck on material, I want to do the best job possible and do it once lol.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2010, 06:38:47 AM by cody » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2010, 06:50:14 AM »

Cody, I have always used the crimp fittings these guys that buy the shark fitting have a lot more money than me and they make a drain to install in the lowest area to drain the system or you can install one shark fitting to break the line but they will start leaking after a period of time of disconnects, it's what ever flips your switch. 



good luck
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2010, 07:05:33 AM »

Sharkbite fittings are different than most plastic fittings.  They actually have a serrated stainless ring that bites into the pipe to hold it.  They are code approved for use in walls and enclosed spaces although I would avoid doing do where possible.  Home Depot is the cheapest source I have found for Sharkbite fittings even comparing against online sources.  Home Depot is also convenient, at least for me.

I used FlexPex brand tubing in my bus.  It is much more flexible than other brands.  You can get it with red or blue lettering.  I bought a 100' roll of each color and now I have a ton left over.  I could easily replumb my bus from scratch again.

Crimp rings are really not designed to ever come off.  I would probably cut the end off and start fresh if I had to recrimp.  Just leave a little slack in the walls.  I had to replace some plastic fittings in my travel trailer and I couldn't get the PEX off the fittings after removing the crimp rings.  Sharkbite fittings are designed to be taken apart with a $2 little plastic tool.

Sharkbite fittings could get pricey for a house.  Crimp fittings could be cheaper, but the crimp tools are not cheap.
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2010, 07:06:27 AM »

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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2010, 07:23:16 AM »

Cody fwiw the HD stores with a tool rental dept rent the crimpers and gauge for 3 bucks a day at least they do in Bullhead AZ

good luck
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cody
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2010, 07:35:44 AM »

We don't have any home depot stores up here, we did get a lowes about 100 miles east of us a year ago tho lol.  I'm thinking of making each line individual to the manifold with an air valve under the sink, that would be a crimped fitting with the other end at the manifold a disconnect fitting, that way I can disconnect each line at the manifold and then just go one by one with the air compresser to blow out each line, there would be about 6 hot water lines and about 8 cold water lines so it may not be a budget breaker to do it that way.
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2010, 08:06:11 AM »

As much bad press has been printed about Qest, I used all Qest plastic fittings and haven't had one leak yet.  And the plumbing was done 15 years ago.  But-I will use the Pex with compression fittings just for convenience.  Pex also makes nice manifolds for hot and cold.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2010, 08:13:00 AM »

Sharkbite is the brand name of a particular type of fitting, and they are made of brass.  They are the last thing that will have a problem with freezing...  They have a ring tool that is designed to release the tube from the fitting, it's more of a capability of enabling repair or if you screw up the install, not to do routine maintenance.  That said, I did drain lines in the bus this winter by releasing a pipe at the lowest points.  I do intend to install drains, just didn't think of it when I was doing the install.  I have to say I am impressed with how much new tech has come up in the mundane world of plumbing in the past years. 

Brian
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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2010, 08:40:49 AM »

The "Sharkbite" type of fitting works so well, it is the preferred way of setting up the air systems on new big rig trucks.  It makes repair a snap.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2010, 09:09:36 AM »

Certainly one should never plan to have to disconnect a PEX line from a fitting on a routine basis.  One should add valves for draining if it there is a need to drain the plumbing.

If the house is winterized, do you blow air through the system to push all the water out?  My father and brother do this with their sprinkler systems here in Minnesota.  They use a small portable compressor to do this.
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« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2010, 09:09:58 AM »

We used the Manabloc manifold system in our bus (http://houseneeds.com/shop/plumbing/pexplumbing/vanguard/pexmanifoldsbuypage.asp).  It comes with the Qest type fittings on the Manabloc.  I used the 14 port version.  When I looked at trying to fabricate my own manifold, it did not make much sense.  I have a SIL in real estate and we looked at several model houses and this the the "standard" in our area for quality houses.

The manifold just makes good sense.  If any line develops a problem, you can simply shut off that line and keep on trucking until you can get the problem fixed (recall that the problem may not be the plumbing, but the "appliance").

Like others, I used the Qest type connectors.  At the time, HD had them.  They can be ordered on line.  Have not had any problems and have had to disconnect various connection and never had a problem.

Jim
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« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2010, 10:15:29 AM »

Cody,

I think you are off on the wrong foot and complicating the water purge procedure.  I have only one air input to the system and that is at the fresh water IN pipe and the air fill stem is left connected.  When I need to purge the system I connect a 40 psi regulated source to my water after turning off the main valve.  I then go to each spigot/faucet and turn on the cold valve till I get air.  I then do the same with the hot.  I repeat at every outlet and then the manifold.  I go back and repeat as many times as is needed to get air at the purge start every time.  I take apart NOTHING but only use the sink valves.  After draining the main tank I push air thru the line going to the tank in the same manner.  The tank is what I drain first and I it is draining while I do the line purges.

It would be nice if all the lines had a natural slope to allow passive draining but alas....


Hope all is well with you Cody.

John
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cody
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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2010, 10:47:20 AM »

All the plumbing in the Skanee house is in a relatively small area but set up like a spyder with the lines going in different directions, each time I tryed to blow out the lines somewhere there was a pocket of water left and I ended up with a busted pipe, I had a plumber come out and blow out the lines the last time and guess what, a busted pipe at a small pocket of water.  I'm just tired of the hassles of closing up the house for the winter cause I can't winter out there anymore and haven't for a while.  None of the lines are very long with the longest being probably 15 ft or so, most of them, like the bathroom and laundry room, are easily within 8 ft of the manifold, what I want to do is unhook the lines and leave them unhooked from the manifold after blowing the water out of them, what I've been doing in the past is chasing water around the system by blowing it out of other areas, thats why I'm doing a complete rethink of the system.  I've had drains all over the crawlspace and I always ended up with a broken pipe somewhere.  Another thing I've got to do is come up with a good way of draining the dishwasher and washing machine, what I do now is actually remove them and take them outside and disconnect the pump and all the lines and drain out the lines then bring them into town and tuck them away in a heated basement.  I don't leave any heat in the skanee house in the winters, so we remove anything that might freeze, can goods etc, everything.
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2010, 11:04:52 AM »

Cody,

I had second thoughts about my post but I thought others might benefit.  I suspected you had been driven to your planned method and procedure.  I also had to repeatedly go from one to the other many times till I no longer got water.  I also found that I needed to have a large air supply to blow all the water up some of the pipes and out the spigot.  Really need to configure all the plumbing to gravity drain....not just the sewer, at the installation phase.

My dishwasher has a chamber in the very bottom that fills and retains water and is the input to the pump.  I suspect that if I poured anti freeze in the dishwasher it would freeze proof the dishwasher......what do you think?  Brief energize on the drain circle to get the pump circulated.  Would be easy to flush it all out.  That would work with my washer if I coupled my drain out let pipe to my inlet cold and hot to circulate the antifreeze mix thru the pipes and pump.

Me,again
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cody
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« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2010, 11:16:13 AM »

John, thats pretty much what the plumber did, used household antifreeze to winterize the dishwasher and washing machine after blowing out all the water he could get, I tasted that antifreeze for much of the next summer, looking for a quicker easier way than removing them and physically opening them up to drain them.
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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2010, 12:07:26 PM »

AMAZING that the taste would persist for that long.  Simply amazing!  But then my surprise doesn't change much.  Really timely info for some I imagine.

The RV stores sell a RV water system antifreeze that is supposed to have no flavonoids in it and completely flushes for safety.  Sales men lie to consumers and I don't have any first hand experience, however.

Your removing the washer and dishwasher annually blew me away.  I hope there is an alternative for you and I realize that the winters in your area art brutal.  Straight alcohol used to be the only antifreeze you could find for a car.  How much is isopropyl  100% and can that be safely purged/rinsed?  You could use "shine" if you could find a way to recover that coveted liquid.  Spit balling here one last time.

Good luck with this,

John
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« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2010, 12:18:02 PM »

I don't really think RV and household antifreeze are any different.  All of the plumbing antifreeze I see in stores is RV antifreeze.  I have known plenty of caretakers and the like who use RV antifreeze for winterizing plumbing in seasonal use buildings.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
cody
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« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2010, 01:16:42 PM »

I think that rv antifreeze and household stuff are the same.  I could tell it was there tho, we've got ice cold well water, our well water comes up at 46 degrees and it's absolutely pure so it took a long time for it to taste the same to me.
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« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2010, 06:10:32 PM »

Cody,

I have about 600 Durapex fittings that I'll make you (or anyone else) a good deal on. When Menard's changed their fittings to the ones they have now that cost $5-$6 each,
I bought 1000 of these at a good discount to do my bus and several others (many said they want them, few came through  Cheesy )  Anyway, they are 1/2" pex with the crimp ring
similar to the previous photo. They are female adapter, which means they can be screwed onto a copper male adapter if you build your own manifold. They can be taken apart. It's
difficult to get the ring off, but not impossible. I have some spare rings, too.

Anyway, if you are interested, I can fix you up with as many as you want for about $1.60 each.   If you just want to try a few, I'll send some up, no charge. Just send me your address.

You can see them in photos on my website, I think.  Look for the fresh water system page....

craig

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cody
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« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2010, 07:31:55 PM »

Craig, I appreciate the offer but I have a 300 foot roll of the 3/4 inch pex now lol, I figure to do it all in 3/4 inch stuff.  The best deal was on the 300 ft roll so I got one.
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« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2010, 08:35:50 PM »

I've had experience with pex and sharkbite as well as pex and copper freezing in the winter.

We have a 1900's house that we remodeled for our daughter. We replumbed it all with pex. It has no basement, only a crawl space so plumbing was a bit of a "challenge". Most of the plumbing is in the walls but water still has to get from the well into the house so a short distance of pex is exposed to the cold. We applied heat tape to this section but the  tape failed and the section of pex froze. It did not split and when thawed out was fine. I read an article where a whole house under construction in Minnesota had pex and froze with no leaks whatsoever. Pex is NOT gauranteed to not split but it doesn't split.

The pex fittings are cheap but you need a special tool to use it. Kinda like a big vicegrips which compresses the ring to effect a seal. The only way to get it apart is to cut the ring off with a hacksaw. Not easy.

I had the opportunity to use sharkbit fittings yesterday to replace a section of old copper pipe in my house which developed a leak.. Part of the problem with old copper pipe is it is hard to solder due to residual water in the pipe and because it is old and worn i.e. thinner- also hard to cut clean with a tubing cutter. But with sharkbite you simply cut the pipe(I had to use a hacksaw rather than a tubing cutter), clean off the burrs and push on a sharkbite fitting. The beauty of sharkbite is you can connect copper to pex as well as to plastic. In this case I replaced a two foot section of copper with pex. Once I got the copper tube cut with the hacksaw it took about 2 minutes to complete the repair. The "problem" with sharkbit is the price. Whereas a copper fitting costs about 75 cents a pex fitting costs about 1.50 and a sharkbit fitting costs  $10. So its a little expensive to do a whole house.

If I was going to replumb anything I would buy the pex tool and use pex fittings EXCEPT where it was difficult to use the tool. In that case I would use sharkbite. I would also keep a small emergency kit  consisting of a few sharkbite fittings for when there are any failures/modifications. This can also apply to those with copper plumbing.

As far as draining, pex is so easy to use I would build in drains rather than take any fitting apart.

p.s. I bought my sahrkbite and pex stuff from Home Depot.

Good luck

Fred Mc.

 
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cody
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« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2010, 07:32:40 AM »

The way I originally set up the skanee house, all the plumbing is easy to get at in and in a relatively small area, with no second floor connections, the water line comes in from the well, it's buried about 6ft deep and straight up under the house where the pressure tank is located, the tank is directly under the bathroom and the laundry room is right off the bathroom with the kitchen directly off the bathroom on the other side, all the fixtures are within 15 ft or less from the pressure tank so it's not a major job nor is it an expensive one to do, even with the sharkbite fittings if I can locate stores that handle them.
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« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2010, 04:32:52 PM »

Quote from: cody
The way I originally set up the skanee house, all the plumbing is easy to get at in and in a relatively small area, with no second floor connections, the water line comes in from the well, it's buried about 6ft deep and straight up under the house where the pressure tank is located, the tank is directly under the bathroom and the laundry room is right off the bathroom with the kitchen directly off the bathroom on the other side, all the fixtures are within 15 ft or less from the pressure tank so it's not a major job nor is it an expensive one to do, even with the sharkbite fittings if I can locate stores that handle them.

Boy are ever in luck! Come on down, yer favorite Union City Lowes has them! Wink
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