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DonM 10-17-2007 10:08 AM

Need Help with PEX replumb
 
Iím thinking of re-plumbing my potable water needs with a PEX system. I have an aggressive water condition that is pitting my copper pipes (22 year old home), plus my water pressure isnít the greatest. Iím currently afraid to try and increase the pressure with thin (schedule M) pipes that tends to pit as it is.)

My plumbing skills are limited- I can solder, however if Iím going to replace the copper- I donít want to use copper again even with a better (thicker) pipe since eventually they will leak again- plus, I donít relish the thought of soldering in tight places.

Everything Iíve read about PEX seems to work for me. It will not be affected by the aggressive water, and can be easily installed. (I do have some concerns about mice eating at the PEX??)

My first set of questions regard the different methods for joining the tubing to connections. Itís my understanding that the different systems are unique and must be used consistently. I was thinking of using the Wisbro system of compression and expansion. Does one tool do both? Can it be used in relatively tight spaces (under sinks)? Do I have to get special PEX tubing for this system?

My current game plan is to modify my current copper plumbing with PEX. I have a two story home with an exposed basement ceiling. I can clearly see where the ĹĒ copper pipes branch off the ĺĒ main to the separate sites of the kitchen and Ĺ bath above on the first floor. I am considering disconnecting and sealing off the current ĹĒ pipes that feed to the kitchen and re plumb PEX from a manifold to each fixture using the same holes through the floor above. The ĺĒ copper would then be connected as a separate line in the manifold as well to continue to supply water to the second floor.

The reason Iím not thinking of redoing the 2nd floor plumbing immediately is because it presents some major obstacles for my limited plumbing and carpentry skills. The current pipes are hidden in the walls and ceilings, and I donít know exactly where they are.( Ideally if I knew where they were I could cut them out and replace them with PEX tubing, fishing them through the same holes in the walls and joists.) Instead Iím considering a new route maybe through closets etc. to reach the upstairs fixtures.


Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Thanks,
Don

scorrpio 10-17-2007 03:31 PM

Copper is some pretty darn tough stuff. My house got copper pipes 50+ years old, and they are still in perfect condition. If your water eats copper, I am scared to think what it does to you and your family. You really should consider putting in some kind of water treater instead of thinking of replumbing.

With that, Wirsbo ProPEX expansion style connections are considered better, but tool is expensive and each size requires its own expander head. Since you expand before seating tube on the fitting, it works well in limited spaces.

Marlin 10-17-2007 04:54 PM

First you should smack whoever used M for supply lines.
I've never heard of mice eating pex but I suppose they could if they ever had the urge. I've used the pex with the stainless crimp rings as that's all that's available here. The only failures I've seen have been from not fully criming the ring.

Their is no reason you couldn't keep your 3/4 risers and just re-plumb the lower level. I would bring 1in pex to the 3/4 risers. The reason is according to code, you can not increase the diameter of the pipe as you go down the line. 3/4 copper has a larger inner diameter then 3/4 pex.

I also would advise against running pipes through closets. When you're ready open the walls and do it right. If nothing else it's going to de-value your house.

DonM 10-17-2007 05:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scorrpio (Post 68630)
Copper is some pretty darn tough stuff. My house got copper pipes 50+ years old, and they are still in perfect condition. If your water eats copper, I am scared to think what it does to you and your family. You really should consider putting in some kind of water treater instead of thinking of replumbing..

Thank you for reply and concern. My water is fine for consumption, it's just that the particular water chemistry is slightly aggressive to copper. It's really a combination of many factors (ph, temperature,dissolved solids,calcium ion concentration, and thin copper pipe). I've been reassured by the health official in my town that it's safe



Quote:

Originally Posted by scorrpio (Post 68630)
With that, Wirsbo ProPEX expansion style connections are considered better, but tool is expensive and each size requires its own expander head. Since you expand before seating tube on the fitting, it works well in limited spaces.

Do I need two different tools?? One to expand the tube and the other to compress?

DonM 10-17-2007 05:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marlin (Post 68649)
First you should smack whoever used M for supply lines..

Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind. My home was originally a spec house, and even though everyone I've spoken to had basically the same reaction you had, M is code!!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marlin (Post 68649)
I also would advise against running pipes through closets. When you're ready open the walls and do it right. If nothing else it's going to de-value your house.

I'm glad you mentioned this, but I'm curious why going through the closets would devalue the home?

Marlin 10-17-2007 05:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DonM (Post 68652)
I'm glad you mentioned this, but I'm curious why going through the closets would devalue the home?

Because the pipes are typically inside the wall. Running them through a closet to avoid opening a wall is really a hack job. I'd imagine anything that isn't done right is going to devalue a home.

scrapiron 10-17-2007 07:48 PM

We do alot of old house replumbing using pex with the copper crimp rings, but you need a different set of crimps for each size. I know a guy that uses the stainless rings so he only needs one crimper. Both types seen to work well. You might consider using the sharkbite fittings to go from pex to copper so you can avoid using a torch in the tight flammable areas. So far no problems with mice but did have a situation where we found someone had run a sheetrock screw into pex and it never leaked until the screw was backed out.

Marlin 10-18-2007 06:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scrapiron (Post 68683)
So far no problems with mice but did have a situation where we found someone had run a sheetrock screw into pex and it never leaked until the screw was backed out.

Same thing happens with copper quite frequently. The only way you could avoid that is to go with galvanized.

RippySkippy 10-18-2007 07:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DonM (Post 68651)
Do I need two different tools?? One to expand the tube and the other to compress?

No. The wirsbo system uses a ring of Pex over the pipe and when you expand it, you have "x" seconds before its memory returns the pex tube to a point where its smaller than the fitting and makes a water tight seal on the fitting. The tool has an expander similar to a funnel that fits inside the pipe.

In my house I used a copper crimp system from Sioux Chief, it handles both 1/2" and 3/4" tube. It's been very easy and didn't have any leaks after I crimped pressure checked. I really liked the ability of being able to assemble the whole system then go back and crimp which you cannot do with the wirsbo system.

From what I've read, people have their favorite, and are downright feisty and willing to battle to the death about their preferred style. I think as long as you have square cuts, take time to align the fittings, and make sure you don't crimp the tube on corners, all will work.

DonM 10-18-2007 08:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RippySkippy (Post 68780)
No. The wirsbo system uses a ring of Pex over the pipe and when you expand it, you have "x" seconds before its memory returns the pex tube to a point where its smaller than the fitting and makes a water tight seal on the fitting. The tool has an expander similar to a funnel that fits inside the pipe.

Thank you, now I understand the difference between these "systems"

Quote:

In my house I used a copper crimp system from Sioux Chief... I really liked the ability of being able to assemble the whole system then go back and crimp which you cannot do with the wirsbo system.
This point you make escapes me. Why can't you assemble the entire layout with Wirsbo, while you can with the crimp system?

Thanks,

Don

RippySkippy 10-18-2007 10:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DonM (Post 68783)
This point you make escapes me. Why can't you assemble the entire layout with Wirsbo, while you can with the crimp system?


when you put the Wirsbo system together, meaning expanding the tube and putting the fittings in, when its done contracting its done. You can rotate the fittings, but you cannot easily dis-assemble with out cutting the tube removing the collar, and re-expanding.

With the copper crimp, as you cut your tube, you put the copper collar on the end near the fitting, building the run as you go. IF you need to shorten a piece, slip it off the fitting, you can. I've found it handy if I need to re-route a section, I didn't have to cut the tube. USUALLY it's not a big deal either way...in tight locations, it can be a tad easier. BTW if you or anyone uses the copper crimp, I HIGHLY recommend the ring splitter.

Here's a nifty little PDF of Pex plumbing...scroll down to page 23, and it shows the splitter in action. I haven't looked at the whole document, but initially it looks good.

scorrpio 10-18-2007 11:27 PM

Some points:
In general, you want to minimize number of fittings. In most cases, it means an unbroken run from manifold to appliance. Sometimes, you run a larger diameter PEX to a sub-manifold, and distribute from there. So, not really sure what is meant by 'building the run'. 'The run' should be a single piece of PEX, using bend supports instead of elbows. As with electric wire, where PEX goes through framing, it should be protected by nail plates.

I prefer Wirsbo ProPex expansion system because of three reasons:
1. It is considered the most reliable.
2. You EXPAND the tube before putting it over fitting, whereas with crimps, you COMPRESS it after putting it over fitting - means ProPEX fittings are larger diameter, giving better flow.
3. You crimp a ring/tighten a clamp when tubing is over a fitting in its place. And you need ample access space on at least one side of the tube. Sometimes, working in tight quarters, you might not have enough clearance for the tool. No such issue with ProPEX - you expand the tube before placing, meaning you can go into VERY tight places.

That said, ProPEX tool set is the most expensive - a tool with full set of heads runs almost $350. Too rich for a one-time job. However, you can usually sell it on ebay for almost its original price. OTOH, CinchClamp system uses one tool for all clamp sizes.

DonM 10-19-2007 08:01 AM

Pex Unroller?
 
Hello Again:

Do I need an unroller, or is there a technique that I can use to properly "unroll" the tubing??


Thanks,

Don

RippySkippy 10-19-2007 09:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DonM (Post 68920)
Do I need an unroller, or is there a technique that I can use to properly "unroll" the tubing??

No need to purchase an unroller for plumbing. Rig up something where you can have a center support to slip the roll on, and unwind it, the roll is standing vertical. I've used a 3/4" Pony bar clamp, clamped on to a near by 2x4, another close by stud kept the roll from working it's way off the end of the pipe, it worked well. Don't just flop it on the ground an pull, you'll have a mess in no time.

DonM 10-19-2007 05:39 PM

Manifold Question:


Can I gang together two manifolds of the same size copper pipe (using a large diameter say 1-2 inches would be better?)that would have different sized pex terminals i.e. mostly 1/2" but at least one with 3/4"?

This is the type of manifold that I would sweat two together but they would have different sized terminals:

http://www.pexsupply.com/categories.asp?cID=519&brandid=

Would this cause any problems?
Thanks
Don


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