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Old 09-07-2016, 03:47 PM   #1
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1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


Hey there, I am hoping to get some advice on best practice and exactly how deep I should go into this repair, if a "repair" is even necessary. We bought this house recently, it runs off of a well. It is a small bungalow home, but me and the wife have never been impressed with shower pressure, or overall flow really (although it was tested to 5+gpm during inspection). I did adjust the well pump pressure, and tank pressure, which helped and makes it bearable, but I thought there was more I could do. So I got to digging, ended up removing some insulation on the main water lines in the cellar, and found a bottle neck in the system, way to many fittings in a foot of space (atleast I think) and it takes the entire 3/4" system down to 1/2" for one fitting. Im thinking this may improve flow if I can eliminate this?

I am new to plumbing, have done some copper, but never pex, I do own both a 1/2" and 3/4" ring pex crimper and a pex cutter though. My question really is were do I start and stop. Ill post an overview pic of my main lines, and then the mess of fittings, but also there is some weeping from the lines that go from the UV lamp, to the filter, which slightly makes me want to re-do it all, but it may not be neccessary?

I believe I should cut the 3/4" copper line just below the RED handle of the shut off, and the other cut should be on the 3/4" blue line just before the 90*, only cutting about a foot of the system out, and replacing with 3/4" pex and a new shutoff valve. Will it be difficult to find a 3/4" copper -> 3/4" pex ring crimp fitting? I dont quite understand why this bottle neck and mess of fittings is even here to being with.

And then theres the lingerring question do I simply replace it all? The bladder is of unknown age, the T fitting coming out of it doesnt appear in the best of shape. I believe a new tank and T is something like $200? Should I replace it all now or do I potentially have 10 more years out of the tank??

Any advice in general would be great here, I will get some serious brownie points if wifey can have some shower pressure like we used to in the city, Id like to stick to the ring crimp pex system fittings as I already have the tools, but Im quite open to learning and taking advice. Thanks for the time, Ill post pics in the next post it isnt letting me upload from my phone
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Old 09-07-2016, 03:51 PM   #2
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Hope this works, silly technology
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:01 PM   #3
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


I'll start off by saying that I hate the sharkbite style press fittings but that aside I don't think you will gain much as far as shower pressure by increasing the size to 3/4". The velocity is greater in the 1/2" but it's for such a small run that it's not going to cause much friction loss and when running a shower you are not maxing out what the 1/2" can carry.

I'm only guessing but it seems to me that it's a pressure problem with the well/pump system. If your well is rated to flow 5gpm then it's a pump issue. I have zero knowledge of well systems but I assume you can increase the pump size or add a booster pump. If it were me, I would add a tee right after the pump and another after the equipment and put on a hose bib to attach a pressure gauge or just put a gauge in permanently. This will show the initial pressure and the pressure drop across the various devices and piping shown. You will need to see what the pressure is while running the shower.

The sweating is from the cold water in the pipes being below the dew point in the space. Add insulation to pipes or a dehumidifier is space is damp.
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Old 09-08-2016, 05:54 AM   #4
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


Thank you for the reply, the pump is old aswell, unknown age but you can tell by its look that its 5, maybe even 10+ years old. So sooner or later I will be replacing that aswell.

There is a gauge installed on the pump, my pressure is 60high and kicks on at 40 low. I tried to adjust the pump to say something like 46-66 and the pump seemingly ran forever trying to build that pressure so I put it back to 40/60, tank bladder pressure is @ 38psi
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:22 AM   #5
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


Overall flow at fixtures may be severally reduced by blockages. Check the shower head for flow restricters or sediment in the head openings and all aerators for sediment. Check actual flow at an unrestricted outlet like a hose bib.
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:34 AM   #6
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


Did you change the filters? If they are clogged, or the wrong filters, that will effect your flow. I see atleast one in the pics, maybe two. Check those first, but based on what your are describing its sounds like you have a pump problem or a pressure switch problem.

I see all the pex around the equipment, but did the PO chance the plumbing in the entire house? As Colbyt said there could be an obstruction.

Last edited by ZTMAN; 09-08-2016 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:17 AM   #7
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


A 3/4 pipe will have almost twice the flow of a 1/2" line.
http://www.pexuniverse.com/pex-tubing-technical-specs
Picture standing on a garden hose, pressure will remain high in the whole hose at rest, but as soon as you open the nozzle pressure on the nozzle side drops off as well as flow.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:00 AM   #8
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


A well system set at 40/60 should give you plenty of pressure and volume at a shower head. As others have said remove shower head to insure that it is not clogged and remove any flow restrictor.
How is pressure at other faucets?

Replace all filters.
What is that chrome cylinder device on the wall? Is that a filter or some kind of conditioner?

You said
Quote:
tank bladder pressure is @ 38
Tell me how you determined that.
Do you understand how a bladder tank works?



A 5 or 10 year old pump is not "old".

Last edited by hkstroud; 09-08-2016 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:56 PM   #9
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


I do beleive sediment could be an issue in all our lines, the laundry tub faucet has a TON of flow, fills a bucket very fast, but the shower head is very low flow. There is no restrictor behind it, but I do believe there may be blockages in the lines from hard well water buildup. The entire house after the hot waer heater is fed with PEX plumbing.

The silver canister is a UV bulb. There is only one filter, it was changed this past month, I change them about every 3 months. My manual says to buy the 5 micron ones though, they do sell 20 and 50 micron version if that could cause water to be restricted.. took the tank pressure @ 38psi by completely draining the system/tank/lines and then using an accurate pressure gauge to check and adjust bladder pressure.

Both my neighbours mention they go through well pumps every 5-7 years (they are both quite old, lives here decades) which is why I say my pump is likely around that age judging by condition aswell. It does seem to work perfectly fine, Im assuming they just dont work one day when it goes bad.

I suppose if this 1/2" piece isnt a huge deal I should start checking for blockage or clean the piping somehow? I will pull the shower head.

One reason I suspect blockage is because we have a terranium aquarium, I built a simple dripper system for it to drop water, basically a 2 gallon bucket dripping 1 drop per second out of a 3/16" ID vinyl hose. The hose literally needs to be changed monthly due to a white slime/sludge buildup internally. So Id imagine the same could be happening to the PEX internals? Maybe less dramatic as there is pressure to wash it away vs a drip going through
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:09 PM   #10
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


Remove shower head and see what volume you have.
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:31 PM   #11
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Re: 1/2" Bottleneck on main line in new to me home. First time plumbing w/ pex, pics*


You are on the right track. I would stay with the 5 micron filters as they have minimal flow restriction and a looser weave (20-50) would let to much sediment through.

The pex won't collect much if any blockage but any galvanized pipe for sure will cause restrictions.

Try taking the shower head off and letting water flow from just the pipe. I would guess that it would fill a 5 gallon bucket in a minute. If it does then just replace the shower head. You can even open up the flow restrictor to get a huge flow but your hot water will be depleted fast. If it seems like low flow then I would remove the shower filler arm from the wall and make sure that it's not clogged. If not then you will have to look for blockages either in the shower valve or the piping between the pump and the shower head. Look for any galvanized pipe as that can clog until it's totally blocked. Check the flow without the head attached switching between hot and cold and see if any difference. That can narrow down the issues- if low on both hot and cold then it's a restriction either before the water heater or the shower valve or piping from the valve to the head. If it's the head that came with the house I would guess that's the culprit but check the flow without it just to be sure. If low then let it run for a while without the head to see if you can dislodge anything. I doubt it but worth a shot.

Regarding the pump- It can just stop if the motor is the issue but many times the bearings go bad and/or impeller wear can reduce it's capacity.

Last edited by Daltex; 09-08-2016 at 06:37 PM.
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