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Old 01-29-2011, 09:34 AM   #1
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Canadians, take note! Viega Manabloc


Hi All:

Back on Jan 4, I asked for opinions and suggestions on a Viega Manabloc. I got no responses but more than a few people seemed to be interested. I still have no idea whether or not I've made a good decision. Only time will tell.

However, if you're in Canada and you're thinking about using PEX and the Manabloc for your installation I'll recount my findings and you can add this to your own knowledge base so you can make a more informed decision.

Like others on this forum I have lived in a house where PEX was installed using a year's production of elbows, tees and lord knows what other restrictions added for fun. I swear, you give the family contractor (my brother in law) a crimping tool and he sees dollar signs and goes nuts. I suffered so I'm putting in my own "homerun" installation.

Ok, so I go looking for competitive prices for the Viega/Vanguard Manabloc in Canada. The importer, Waterline Products of Mississauga put me in touch with wholesalers that carry Viega products. I called them and none had heard of, nor knew anything about a Viega Manabloc. I called back to Waterline and they put me onto the distributor for my region who's response was "it's not worth my time for a mere $125." He didn't have one and if he could get one he would wholesale it to my retailer at $216. US retail price is $129 for a complete kit. My response to him is this article. Suffice to say, that I couldn't find competitive Canadian prices.

Just in case you think I'm nuts, and maybe I am, but, I completed my DWV install and found $150 difference on the final price of $228 of ABS product in 5 stores in a 30km radius of each other. Vendors have got to figure out that the world is now the marketplace, not their neighbourhood. Further, I'm not going to buy a yacht for them, I'm going to buy one for me first.

I was forced to become an importer. Before I go any further, be aware that if you are a business, the rules change dramatically. What I say below is a homeowner importing a US-made product for my use in my own home. I am not doing this for profit. I'm doing it for my comfort.

I ordered a Manabloc and supporting PEX products that I couldn't find in stores in Canada. I ordered from PEXSupply near New York City. There was a supplier nearer to me in Vermont but they didn't answer my initial e-mails.

I didn't order the PEX. I could buy that here with confidence and competitive pricing but I'm using the bending philosophy, not the fixtures philosophy. To support that, I had to order product from the 'States. It was not available in Canadian stores. It seems that stores here only think that PEX should _never_ be bent.

To wit, I ordered:

1 - Manabloc 18 x 1/2" ports, compression ports, 3/4" crimp supply
1 kit - Valve stem replacement kit (2 extra valves and a "special" tool, and an extra key)
1 pc - Manabloc Wrench for Compression Lock-in Nuts
2 pcs - 3/4" PEX Crimp x ManaBloc Supply Adapter with nuts
2 pcs - Lock-in Nut for Compression Manabloc (1 size fits all?)
5 pcs - 1/2" Lock-in Insert for Compression Manabloc
5 pcs - 1/2" Insert Stiffener for Compression MANABLOC
5 pcs - 1/2" Ferrule for Compression MANABLOC/MINIBLOC

My thinking was that not much will go wrong with the Manabloc. It has few moving parts and once properly connected should be totally static. I did allow that I could screw up connections if I weren't careful so I ordered 2 extra lock-in nuts (they're pretty beefy and robust) just in case I stripped one. I also ordered 5 each of the other consumable parts, again just in case. Remember I'm far from my supplier.

I also ordered:

2 pcs - Toilet swivel adapter 1/2" PEX x 7/8 ball cock
10 pcs - Faucet swivel adapter 1/2" PEX to 1/2" NPSM

60 pcs - 1/2" plastic bend supports
20 pcs - 3/4" plastic bend supports
50 pcs - PEX tubing Suspension Clips
100 pcs - Tube Talon tubing support clips
50 pcs - 1/2" tubing Single Escutcheon

Ok, the swivel adapters were a bit cheaper than the Canadian price. Just enough to make it worth while but were that the only thing I order, I wouldn't.

The bend supports are critical. I want one connection at the Manabloc and one at the appliance, i.e. directly into the faucet, no other breaks or points of failure. The supporting clips are also highly recommended, although equivalents are readily available. However, I couldn't find the suspension clips anywhere else so I had to get them from the 'States. I think they are unique to Viega and supports tubing that goes through studs and allows expansion and contraction without abrading the tubing.

Now for the interesting part - money. I can't give you exact figures because over time prices change and you are in a different locale than me. PEXSupply typically uses UPS for their shipments to Canada. If you haven't dealt with UPS, they nickle and dime you to death when you bring something through customs. It cost me more than $40 in brokerage fees to import a $23 part from the US and that didn't include duties (none) and taxes (GST & PST.)

I had my Manabloc order shipped via United States Postal Service. (just to clarify, it is the US equivalent to Canada Post.) I had two packages totalling 13 lbs and they charged about $41 US for postage. Canada Post charged $5 for brokering the package through customs and I paid GST and Provincial Sales Tax.

I put the order in on January 20 and I received it January 28. The order was delayed two days for an item on back order. Actual delivery time, 6 calendar days. By comparison, I ordered 200 feet of 1/2" PEX in two colours on the same day I ordered the Manabloc and my local big-box store doesn't have it in yet.

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Old 05-21-2013, 11:31 AM   #2
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Canadians, take note! Viega Manabloc


Hi, I live in Ontario and have been thinking about using the Manabloc system for my house. How have things worked out for you with you bloc? Would you do it again? Thanks for your post.

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Old 05-21-2013, 04:11 PM   #3
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Canadians, take note! Viega Manabloc


Quote:
Originally Posted by 9Fingers View Post
Hi, I live in Ontario and have been thinking about using the Manabloc system for my house. How have things worked out for you with you bloc? Would you do it again? Thanks for your post.

Hi 9Fingers:

Ok, I'm about half-way through the installation. Everything is working well and I'm pleased with the installation. There is one point that I'm not pleased with and it has nothing to do with the Manabloc. At the end of the feed line, I had ordered (from sharkbite) a right angle between PEX and the toilet infeed. I regret this. Instead I'd recommend that you use the old stainless-braided feed pipe with a local shut of valve in place of the direct PEX to toilet connection. (I hope I got this straight ;-)

Yes, I would recommend this to all but my worst enemy. That said, tips include:
- I had to replace my water heater and some of the crud from the old water heater traveled down the PEX and got caught in my new kitchen sink faucet. That involved several weeks of swapping parts and the kitchen faucet has never fully recovered. It seems that if there were copper pipe, the crud would get caught on the irregular surfaces in the pipe. In the PEX, there are no irregular surfaces so the crud made it all the way down the longest feed in the system.
- At no point in my system do I use joints, elbows or "T"s. Instead, I use the "round corner technique" with "bend supports". This provides an excellent consistent and balanced flow throughout the whole system. SKU: A5250500 at pexsupply.com
- The 3/4" feed from the municipal supply is excellent for a family of 2 and up to 20 guests at a time.
- I have also identified another problem in the faucets for my old bathroom shower. There is a temperature balance in the old shower control? It will need recalibrating. The velocity of water in the pex is greater than in copper so your shower will get hotter quicker.
- I also installed all of my water sub-system in a column. My two bathrooms are stacked one on top of the other and the ManaBloc is built into the wall next to the downstairs bathroom. This keeps the feed lines as short as possible. This is a philosophy that I highly recommend.
- I had to install my new sewer line at the same time that I was installing the Manabloc. I built an under-slab feed from the municipal supply to the location of the Manabloc. It was a pain to do. I had to cut a trough across the full width of the basement floor. It was well worth it. My objective is to keep all hot and cold runs the same length and as short as possible and it is working beautifully.

This is all I can think of for the moment. If I can think of anything else, I'll ad it, then.

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Old 05-21-2013, 08:35 PM   #4
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Canadians, take note! Viega Manabloc


Thanks for the update. Glad to hear you're happy with your choice and that some of the problems you've had we're because the pex has worked so well.
Could you tell me how you got your stuff into Canada. When I spoke to pex supply, they said that they didn't ship to Canada. I saw that you used the U.S. Postal service and then Canada post, but could you give me a couple more details so I could do the same?

Thanks for your help. I wish that this stuff was available at reasonable prices here across the border. Even on Amazon.ca the prices are inflated and the shipping time was 1-3 MONTHS!!
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:07 AM   #5
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Hi 9Fingers:

Well, interesting developments huh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 9Fingers View Post
Thanks for the update. Glad to hear you're happy with your choice and that some of the problems you've had we're because the pex has worked so well.
Yup. Can't complain ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 9Fingers View Post
Could you tell me how you got your stuff into Canada. When I spoke to pex supply, they said that they didn't ship to Canada. I saw that you used the U.S. Postal service and then Canada post, but could you give me a couple more details so I could do the same?
Ok, I went and checked the PexSupply.com website and they have changed their Canadian policy. Here`s what I think is happening: US retailers will sell anywhere to anyone. The only exception is when someone with clout puts the fear of god into them. The Canadian distributor (probably the one that charges 4x the US retail price) probably complained to Viega that US retailers were cutting into his profit margins and would sue if US retailers continued to ship to Canada. I`m not surprised. If you pay $50 for something, add $50 in shipping and excise costs and sell it for $400 wholesale, you`ll fight to keep your markup.

There had to be some real threat for PexSupply to stop selling to Canada. It was a major part of their business. I bet when that edict got passed down from on high more than a few people lost their jobs and the profit margin took a significant drop. Talk nice to them and I bet there's a solution -- see below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 9Fingers View Post
Thanks for your help. I wish that this stuff was available at reasonable prices here across the border. Even on Amazon.ca the prices are inflated and the shipping time was 1-3 MONTHS!!
Now, you`ve got to get creative. There are forwarding organizations all along the border. Are you located within an hour or so drive of the border? Buy in the US, ship to the forwarder address in the US, go picke it up or they will transship to you in Canada. There are several in Ogdensburg, NY and I'm sure all along the border. Also, plumbing supply houses in US centres all along the border are quite prepared to assist Canadian clients. That's how many of them are surviving at the moment.

Failing that, I searched "us forwarding to canada" in google and came up with a variety of options all vying for Canadian business. A RedFlagDeals thread specifically discusses cross-border shopping.

Interesting. I'll have to talk to the people at PExSupply and see if I can still get support.

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Old 05-22-2013, 09:46 AM   #6
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Canadians, take note! Viega Manabloc


Did you install the pex right up to your hot water tank, or did you leave a few feet of copper between them?
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle2k View Post
Did you install the pex right up to your hot water tank, or did you leave a few feet of copper between them?
Hi Seattle2k:

Normally, I would use a >12" riser above the hot water tank. However, I consulted local "experts" and they recommended direct attachment. I'm using 3/4" ID PEX to and from the water heater. I also have no inspectors to deal with which is a separate nightmare.

Be careful when you connect to the water heater. I used bend supports to reduce the stress on the water heater connections. It might also help to use a steel pipe to reduce bend stress if necessary. If you have to go this route, make sure you don't chafe the PEX or allow the PEX to abrade when it expands and contracts. Also note that the hot line will move differently than the cold one.

HTH

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Old 05-23-2013, 10:59 AM   #8
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Hi Allthunbs!

I'm about to re-plumbing my entire house, replacing all of the galvanized and copper pipe with PEX tubing and adding a 36-port manifold. I'm waiting on a new water heater to show up first before I start. One might as well replace everything right?

When you did your homeruns from the bloc did you add any air chambers (thus introducing crimps and tees)? From what I've read, they are not necessary with PEX as it will flex enough to avoid any hammering. Currently, I have air chambers on the showers below the fixtures and for the sinks, they are continued above. I'd rather keep the connections as simple homeruns.

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Old 05-23-2013, 08:02 PM   #9
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Canadians, take note! Viega Manabloc


Hi Hitlines:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HitLines View Post
I'm about to re-plumbing my entire house, replacing all of the galvanized and copper pipe with PEX tubing and adding a 36-port manifold. I'm waiting on a new water heater to show up first before I start. One might as well replace everything right?
Ok, if it ain't broke don't fix it ;-) That said, when I didn't replace my water heater, it crapped out and sent crud through my lines anyway. Maybe it's a good idea to replace the water heater, especially when it's >6 yrs old.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HitLines View Post
When you did your homeruns from the bloc did you add any air chambers (thus introducing crimps and tees)? From what I've read, they are not necessary with PEX as it will flex enough to avoid any hammering. Currently, I have air chambers on the showers below the fixtures and for the sinks, they are continued above. I'd rather keep the connections as simple homeruns.
Yes, I did. I soldered up a copper "T" with an inlet for PEX, a valve for the washing machine and a hammer arrester. In spite of the PEX, when I turn on and off the bathroom sink faucets, I can still hear slight hammering.

Now, I am curious. I have a 18-port manabloc which is perfect for two three piece bathrooms and a kitchen. I take an outside tap off of the kitchen cold water feed and dishwasher off the hot water feed. Are you controlling two houses? In which case I would use two 18s rather than a 36.

HTH

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Old 05-28-2013, 01:47 PM   #10
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Canadians, take note! Viega Manabloc


Whilst it's not broken, the last service date written in sharpie on the side of the tank was 1996. I've replaced a few elements and valves since then so but it's time for a new one.

I was looking at a Bradford White MI5036FBN-337 50gal NG from Amazon for $500 shipped. The reviews seem mixed on Amazon but much better on pexsupply. Anyone have good or bad experiences with BW?

Thanks for the note about hammering. It's something I will consider.

The house is a good size with an attached mother-in-law unit off of the back. For the main house, the kitchen alone will use 7 ports. I treat it like an electrical box and don't want to run out of space. I might as well have room for expansion.
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Old 05-29-2013, 03:52 PM   #11
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Hi Hitlines:

Quote:
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Whilst it's not broken, the last service date written in sharpie on the side of the tank was 1996. I've replaced a few elements and valves since then so but it's time for a new one.
If you have soft water, check your anode. The date of manufacturer should be on the ID plate. Normal White water heaters up here have followed that rule for years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HitLines View Post
I was looking at a Bradford White MI5036FBN-337 50gal NG from Amazon for $500 shipped. The reviews seem mixed on Amazon but much better on pexsupply. Anyone have good or bad experiences with BW?
Quote:
Originally Posted by HitLines View Post
Thanks for the note about hammering. It's something I will consider.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HitLines View Post

The house is a good size with an attached mother-in-law unit off of the back. For the main house, the kitchen alone will use 7 ports. I treat it like an electrical box and don't want to run out of space. I might as well have room for expansion.
Yes, you but you have to remember, adding an electrical circuit is a hell of a lot easier than adding a plumbing fixture. You're not likely to add a bathroom on a whim. Besides, if you add an addition with separate bathrooms, you'll more likely want a sub distribution panel near the bathrooms/in the addition. You might also want to create local tankless water heaters rather than a central tank. I'd be more prepared to spend the money on a small 3/4" distribution panel at the municipal service entrance and distribute to smaller local panels in water columns throughout the house.

Hope this discussion helps.

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Old 06-04-2013, 10:44 AM   #12
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An old friend of mine has been a master plumber for about 45 years. He told me that in every case when he removed the cap in an old galvanized pipe used to suppress water hammer, it was full of water. Basically he thought they were BS.

I have a manifold home run system with no water hammer chambers, and I have no water hammer. You don't only not need them, they represent a potential leak, IMHO.
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:40 PM   #13
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Hi Jagans:

Quote:
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An old friend of mine has been a master plumber for about 45 years. He told me that in every case when he removed the cap in an old galvanized pipe used to suppress water hammer, it was full of water. Basically he thought they were BS.
Ok, a bunch of stuff here. I agree, a hammer arrester can be a waste of time. However, I'm over a thousand miles and an international boundary away from any support. I put in hammer arresters (manufactured ones, not galvanized pipes) to provide some additional insurance that any shocks would not get to the Manabloc.

Quote:
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I have a manifold home run system with no water hammer chambers, and I have no water hammer. You don't only not need them, they represent a potential leak, IMHO.
There is another aspect of this and that is the PEX tubing will also act as arresters or at least shock absorbers. Except, in my case, I kept all of the PEX runs as short as possible. Some (the laundry room sink and the washing machine) are as short as 5'. Given the speed at which the washing machine can open and close its' valves, a bit of insurance is no waste. Also, I can't remember the cost of the hammer arresters that I bought but I think they're actually cheaper than a chunk of galvanized pipe.

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Old 06-04-2013, 04:59 PM   #14
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Here is a little read on arrestors. Notice point #15
http://www.siouxchief.com/Resource_/...FAQ%204-04.pdf
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:01 PM   #15
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Here is a little read on arrestors. Notice point #15
http://www.siouxchief.com/Resource_/...FAQ%204-04.pdf
Thanks E, Number 4 shows what people used to do, which is what my friend ran into. I guess the souix chief hammer arresters would work. As far as I know the only valves that close suddenly, as described for being the cause of hammer are dishwasher and clothes washer valves. I would think that unusually high water pressure could cause it too.

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