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Old 08-13-2010, 12:21 PM   #1
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


*Disclaimer - I have no practical plumbing experience, just common sense (i think)

So we moved into a brand new home a few weeks ago, which is plumbed trunk & branch style using 3/4 and 1/2 PEX. We moved about a mile from our old home which had GREAT pressure and volume, so the city supply is fine. Problem is at the new place, the volume is horrendous. Upstairs tubs flow at a trickle, and yes I've opened all the valves all the way. I believe the culprit is that upon closer inspection there are a myriad of 90's, and couplings all over. The idea that you save on fittings with PEX was lost with this plumber. Compound all those fittings by the fact that they're ALL PLASTIC, then I think i see whats going on here. I'm squeezing the flow all through the with the tiny I.D. of those plastic fittings.
I'll be taking pictures of what I think is outrageous this weekend, but in the meantime, I was hoping to get some opinion if my theory is correct. I'm going over options for alleviating the problem, which basically is;
1. Redo with PEX correctly using sweeps, solid lines to fixtures and brass fittings
2. Retro fit all the plastic fittings with compressions like SharkBite
3. Go big and go copper wherever i can reach.

I can easily get to everything on the 1st floor, but upstairs will have to wait until a later date since sweetheart is not going to be happy with the drywall coming down in her living room to reach the upstairs baths.

On a related bit; I had a 2nd water meter installed for our sprinklers and they plumbed a 1 inch tee (I have 1 inch main) after the main meter, but before the PEX. The outside hose bib on that line powers the kid's water wiggle sprinkler no problem. The outside hose bib immediately upstream (first fixture actually) on the original plumbing can't make the little hoses move at all. They just stand straight up. Awful.

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Old 08-13-2010, 07:43 PM   #2
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


Get a pressure gauge and post your readings along with your pictures. I assume you don't have a pressure regulator.
Plastic pex fittings are not new either but it sounds like a poor layout. As for your list of options- avoid the sharkbites. I have nightmares about them blowing off.

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Old 08-13-2010, 10:17 PM   #3
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


Changing from plastic to brass fittings isn't going to change anything. Just so ya know. Agreed also on not using sharkbites....
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:18 PM   #4
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


P.S. around here, you can move a mile, and be on a completely different branch of the city water system.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:56 PM   #5
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


If the hose bibb that is connected before the pex starts is also affected, then it should be upstream of that tee. Check your main shut off, make sure its not jammed up with crud or has a broken gate, check the screen on the inlet of the water meter, and then make sure the curb stop at the street (if you have one - water dept will know) to make sure its all the way open
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:13 PM   #6
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


Quick update, checked the pressure on both bibs, and much to my surprise, they're just about even: just under 40 psi with nothing else open, and drops just below 35 when another bib is opened. I'm thinking a call to the city is in order. My father, who worked for the city who built the supply infrastructure used by all the suburbs here considered 45-60 psi "normal" and was surprised by my results. grrrr.
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Old 08-30-2010, 03:31 PM   #7
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Update 2 - still no pics, but the city came out and told me my situation is "normal":

Static pressure = 44 psi
Residual pressure = 34 psi
6.14 Gal/Min Flow

Not excited about what's "normal" here....

Guess that 3 head shower attachment is going to have to wait until i find a solution. Booster pump like on a well system perhaps?

Last edited by GaryZ; 08-30-2010 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:10 AM   #8
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryZ View Post
Update 2 - still no pics, but the city came out and told me my situation is "normal":

Static pressure = 44 psi
Residual pressure = 34 psi
6.14 Gal/Min Flow

Not excited about what's "normal" here....

Guess that 3 head shower attachment is going to have to wait until i find a solution. Booster pump like on a well system perhaps?
A lot of people around here are doing that. City water into a storage tank using a bob valve to control flow, then suction line out of the bottom into a booster pump.

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Old 01-03-2011, 09:05 AM   #9
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


Got some time over the holidays, took some pics. First: where the water enters the house. That's three 90's and one tee before it gets to the first fixture... and every fitting is plastic.


Next along the way is 1 of 3 spots I found with mismatched colors. I know it doesn't make a difference functionally, but it screams lazyness and/or no pride in workmanship to me (my favorite is in the bathtub where they make an "X" because they were stubbed on the wrong sides and have to cross over to make hot and cold correct - not shown).


Finally, my favorite. The area above the water heater and supplies off to the 2nd floor and to the utility room. Again, note the mismatched stubs. The brass fitting and valve is my handywork from a humidifier install. Figured i might as well cut out one of those plastic Zurns where i could.


This is my first experience living with PEX, but it seems to me with my combination of "lower" water pressure, all these plastic fittings in 3/4 main lines and 1/2 branches is not doing me any favors, particularily in the volume department. I would like to know if this is "normal". To me it seems there are excessive fittings. Every fixture has a short "stub" from the fixture, then coupled to the branch. I haven't taken the time to count how many 90s, tees and couplings there are just in the main supply before the water heater, but its at least a dozen. I'm leaning towards doing a piece by piece replacement of the mains (that I can get to) one size up; 3/4 to 1 inchh to at least get a little more volume in there. That still won't address what I can't see going upstairs - which is a 3/4 going vertically into what i imagine is another abyss of a million plastic fittings and splices. BTW - I'm on quality city water so corrosion is not a consideration

Last edited by GaryZ; 01-03-2011 at 09:07 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
So we moved into a brand new home a few weeks ago, which is plumbed trunk & branch style using 3/4 and 1/2 PEX. We moved about a mile from our old home which had GREAT pressure and volume, so the city supply is fine. Problem is at the new place, the volume is horrendous. Upstairs tubs flow at a trickle, and yes I've opened all the valves all the way. I believe the culprit is that upon closer inspection there are a myriad of 90's, and couplings all over
If this is a brand new home it should be under warranty. Obviously this is poor workmanship. I wouldn't waste any of my own time re-plumbing it. I would raise hell with the builder and demand they have it fixed. You probably need to up-size for more volume since you have minimal pressure. I think plastic fittings are garbage. If the crimper wasn't properly calibrated, there could be hidden cracks in those fitting you may not be aware of yet. The only reason they would have used that many fittings was to make it look good cosmetically. As I'm sure you know, PEX hangs like spaghetti. I would say; less fittings, more hangers.
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Old 01-03-2011, 03:44 PM   #11
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


Shouldn't the city have caught the RED/BLUE mix use and brought this up during inspection, and even failed it? It definitely looks like it was done on the "cheap" instead of the "quality" side of the spectrum.
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:06 PM   #12
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Got some time over the holidays, took some pics. First: where the water enters the house. That's three 90's and one tee before it gets to the first fixture... and every fitting is plastic.
Ok, here's the one I can't figure out. You've got more expense in fixtures than in pipe. It looks like someone may have been padding the bill.

Next, I lived in a house where the hot water side had a dozen of these ells and tees in about a 2 cubic foot space and hot and cold flows were so different, it was impossible to have a comfortable shower.

I'm thinking of using PEX using the home run philosophy. That's the one where you use a central manifold and everything radiates from that common point. I've spec'd out a Viega Manabloc unless these members have some evidence to the contrary. The rule is going to be "to not have a break from the manifold to the fixture." All direction changes will be handled by bend supports and there will be no sub outs and only connections through escutcheons directly to the fixture. Tubing will be supported with Talon clips with adequate expansion and contraction loops along the way. I would appreciate comments on this philosophy, especially from those who have used this method.

As for the "fixture method," given the PEX manufacturer's instructions, I cannot see why it's used today.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:03 PM   #13
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New House + PEX + Plastic Fittings = ?


IMO it looks like a plumber who was trained using copper and attempted to run pex as though its rigid pipe, this would maybe explain so many fittings? And there is nothing wrong with plastic fittings. They are code compliant and are becoming more common. Perhaps it's because Zurn had issues with earlier brass fittings failing.
If the plumber would have known the city pressure he could have sized it properly. Unfortunately a lot of plumbers don't know how to properly size water pipes, they work off a "rule of thumb" formula. In your case it looks like he messed up. And red pex is the same as blue or white pex, especially if your color blind. Not a code issue but it does shout poor craftsmanship.
I'm curious though, if the plumbing looks like this, how is the gas piping, venting, HVAC, electrical, etc. look like? I'd be talking to the builder.
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:45 PM   #14
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Being a new house, have you checked the valve cartridge at the tub ( only fixture you mentioned). It's possible they are contaminated. Some you can't clean and need replaced.the tub would be my choice to open up a value to bleed the water heater, or any fixture on the 2nd floor
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:26 AM   #15
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GaryZ,

-----
You said:

1. On a related bit; I had a 2nd water meter installed for our sprinklers and they plumbed a 1 inch tee (I have 1 inch main) after the main meter, but before the PEX. The outside hose bib on that line powers the kid's water wiggle sprinkler no problem. The outside hose bib immediately upstream (first fixture actually) on the original plumbing can't make the little hoses move at all. They just stand straight up.


2. Quick update, checked the pressure on both bibs, and much to my surprise, they're just about even: just under 40 psi with nothing else open, and drops just below 35 when another bib is opened.

-----


My take is that doing pressure tests cannot isolate your problem. Static pressure everywhere will measure the same just due to hydralics. Your problem is "volume" not pressure.

In post-1 above you said the outside hose bib on the newly plumbed line powers the kid's sprinkler no problem. Yet the other hose bib can't work the same kid's sprinkler. Your problem is there is something restricting the flow between those two hose bibs. You won't be able to find it by taking static pressure readings.

Is there a shutoff valve or water pressure reducer between the two hose bibs?

HRG

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