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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
*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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
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?
 

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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?
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.

:thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Better late than never

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
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
GaryZ,

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
This pic shows the blue 1/2 inch out to the "problem" hose bib, going to the right. it is literally the first fixture after the meter. If you look on the very right of the pic you can see new line, which runs from a secondary meter which is in series after the primary water meter, so both bibs are flowing through the primary meter.


As for fixtures, I've already "updated" them to wife's liking, so they've been cleaned and inspected for debris and whatnot. I agree with the statement above that it's PEX done by a copper guy. That was my first though when I saw it, but didn't really think it was a "bad" thing... obviously since i bought the place. :laughing:

The rest of the mechanicals look well installed, no concerns there (besides the couple spots where the cold air return blocking was creaky, but fixed that with some screws and a little extra blocking).
 

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This pic shows the blue 1/2 inch out to the "problem" hose bib, going to the right. it is literally the first fixture after the meter. If you look on the very right of the pic you can see new line, which runs from a secondary meter which is in series after the primary water meter, so both bibs are flowing through the primary meter.
From your description it appears that your two hose bibs are connected like this:

Code:
 E=Elbow, T=Tee, = is 1" pex, - is 1/2" pex.

(Primary Meter)===(1" T)===------(E)---(E)---(E)---(T)----
The diagram is meant to show:
Primary meter out is 1" line, to 1" tee which feeds secondary meter. The other 1" tee output is necked down to 1/2" pex which is followed by three 1/2" elbows and a 1/2" tee. One output of the 1/2" tee feeds the problem hose bib. If the diagram is correct, with nothing else in the line to the problem hose bib, then yes, it must be the pex fittings restricting the flow to the problem hose bib.

In case this info can help you, when I was doing research for my pex installation, I measured the ID of a 1/2" crimp style pex fitting and it was about 3/8". It appears that a "rule of thumb" for crimp style fittings is that the ID of the fitting is one size smaller than the ID of the tubing. IOW, 3/4" fitting has 1/2" ID and 1/2" fitting has 3/8" ID.

OTOH, the ID of Uponor pro-pex expansion fittings are larger. For instance, The ID of a 3/4" pro-pex fitting is about 5/8". So Uponor pro-pex has less water restriction than the crimp style pex. --- Also, here's my personal take on crimp verses expansion fittings. With crimp style fittings, the edge of the fitting sits below the ID of the tubing creating additional water turbulence. With the Uponor expansion fittings, the tubing is expanded over the fitting so when it contracts, the ID of the tubing is about even with the ID of the fitting resulting in less turbulence. Just my personal take on this since I never read it anywhere for confirmation.

But I never knew how badly the crimp style fittings can restrict water flow until this thread. I guess with low static water pressure (like your 43 PSI) it is imperative to use 3/4" pex for all trunk lines with only bends at turns and not elbows.

Thanks for taking the time to post all of your pictures. Very informative thread!
HRG

EDIT: Oh BTW, where are the shut off valves located? Is there a separate shut off valve for the 1/2" pex lines and another shut off valve for the hose bib line that works well?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
From your description it appears that your two hose bibs are connected like this:

Code:
 E=Elbow, T=Tee, = is 1" pex, - is 1/2" pex.
 
(Primary Meter)===(1" T)===------(E)---(E)---(E)---(T)----
The diagram is meant to show:
Primary meter out is 1" line, to 1" tee which feeds secondary meter. The other 1" tee output is necked down to 1/2" pex which is followed by three 1/2" elbows and a 1/2" tee. One output of the 1/2" tee feeds the problem hose bib. If the diagram is correct, with nothing else in the line to the problem hose bib, then yes, it must be the pex fittings restricting the flow to the problem hose bib.

In case this info can help you, when I was doing research for my pex installation, I measured the ID of a 1/2" crimp style pex fitting and it was about 3/8". It appears that a "rule of thumb" for crimp style fittings is that the ID of the fitting is one size smaller than the ID of the tubing. IOW, 3/4" fitting has 1/2" ID and 1/2" fitting has 3/8" ID.

OTOH, the ID of Uponor pro-pex expansion fittings are larger. For instance, The ID of a 3/4" pro-pex fitting is about 5/8". So Uponor pro-pex has less water restriction than the crimp style pex. --- Also, here's my personal take on crimp verses expansion fittings. With crimp style fittings, the edge of the fitting sits below the ID of the tubing creating additional water turbulence. With the Uponor expansion fittings, the tubing is expanded over the fitting so when it contracts, the ID of the tubing is about even with the ID of the fitting resulting in less turbulence. Just my personal take on this since I never read it anywhere for confirmation.

But I never knew how badly the crimp style fittings can restrict water flow until this thread. I guess with low static water pressure (like your 43 PSI) it is imperative to use 3/4" pex for all trunk lines with only bends at turns and not elbows.

Thanks for taking the time to post all of your pictures. Very informative thread!
HRG

EDIT: Oh BTW, where are the shut off valves located? Is there a separate shut off valve for the 1/2" pex lines and another shut off valve for the hose bib line that works well?
Scratched together a "diagram" that hopefully should explain the config:


Y'all are great, thanks for the feedback!

Should also mention that the 1" out to the sprinkler system has copper sweeps for 90 degree elbows, just for comparison.
 

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Scratched together a "diagram" that hopefully should explain the config:
Missed the 3/4" lines before. Understand now.

1. What are the actual connections in the circle labeled "Meter"?

2. I don't see any shut off valves in your diagram. Where are they located?

3. What do the hexagon shaped symbols represent?

Maybe the info might help others understand your diagram too.
 
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