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Discussion Starter #1
hi, all.

i'm working on a bathroom remodel. this is my first time doing plumbing so i'm learning as i go. my existing pipes are copper. is there a way to transition from copper to pvc or pex without needing to sweat the pipes? i've never soldered before so it would be one less skill to learn and less tools to buy. i've never worked with pex or pvc either but feel more confident about not burning my house down. :)

i know i can use a sharkbite fitting but want to know if anything else is out there. this will be enclosed in a wall so i really prefer not to use them if possible. a lot of people seem cautious of them and they're more knowledgable than i so....

any feedback is welcome.

thanks.
-djr
 

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GC/Master Plumber/Mech
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1,517 Posts
I prefer sweating copper but when I'm on a late night service call or when in a big hurry I use sharkbite. Don't know when your educated friends are cautious of them...If you are uncomfortable sweating pipe hire a plumber or use the shark's
 

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General Contractor
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Sharkbites are fine and they are rated to be closed up in a wall. I agree with 101 though its better to sweat the copper and the tools to do so are not a major investment. I don't care much for pex because the flow is reduced in the fittings and most people don't bother to double check their crimp rings with a gauge. Not to mention the crimping tool will cost you more than pipe cutter, rosin tape, torch, flux, and sodder all combined.
 

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Civil Engineer
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The comment that the "flow is reduced in the fittings" as related to PEX is incorrect. The flow through the line is the same unless there is a branch. The comment can only mean that the OP believes that a PEX fitting produces greater reduction in head than a copper fitting of the same type, i.e. a 90 degree PEX is less efficient than a 90 degree copper.

First of all, the losses in either type of fitting are essentially identical, since the smoothness factor for the two types of pipe are nearly identical, and the geometry of the fittings is effectively identical. Further, most PEX installations use fewer fittings than copper, since you can bend PEX, and you cannot bend hard copper. Finally, the total losses in a typical plumbing system are relatively small compared to the total head in the system, so the discussion is essentially irrelevant as far as normal residential use is concerned.

As far as the cost of tools, absolutely it costs more to buy a PEX ring installer and PEX tubing cutter than a torch, paste, copper tubing cutter, and solder. If you know what you are doing, copper works fine. However, sweating copper is a royal pain in the ass if you cannot get the pipes dry, or your are uncomfortable using a torch, or you have acidic water which is likely to damage copper piping and fittings. PEX goes in faster, and if you use Wirsbo or similarly high quality pipe and fittings, you won't have any leaks. But hey, my house has some copper, and some PEX, either one works as I say, but don't claim that somehow the copper fittings have less losses than PEX, simply not true.
 

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Plumbing Contractor
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Sharkbite fittings are absolutely fine to use inside the wall. You cannot however use PVC. For water you can use CPVC which is an entirely different animal or you can use as you mentioned PEX. Most PEX tools, whether crimpers or expanders, can be rented at most rental yards.
 

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GC/Master Plumber/Mech
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The comment that the "flow is reduced in the fittings" as related to PEX is incorrect. The flow through the line is the same unless there is a branch. The comment can only mean that the OP believes that a PEX fitting produces greater reduction in head than a copper fitting of the same type, i.e. a 90 degree PEX is less efficient than a 90 degree copper.

First of all, the losses in either type of fitting are essentially identical, since the smoothness factor for the two types of pipe are nearly identical, and the geometry of the fittings is effectively identical. Further, most PEX installations use fewer fittings than copper, since you can bend PEX, and you cannot bend hard copper. Finally, the total losses in a typical plumbing system are relatively small compared to the total head in the system, so the discussion is essentially irrelevant as far as normal residential use is concerned.

As far as the cost of tools, absolutely it costs more to buy a PEX ring installer and PEX tubing cutter than a torch, paste, copper tubing cutter, and solder. If you know what you are doing, copper works fine. However, sweating copper is a royal pain in the ass if you cannot get the pipes dry, or your are uncomfortable using a torch, or you have acidic water which is likely to damage copper piping and fittings. PEX goes in faster, and if you use Wirsbo or similarly high quality pipe and fittings, you won't have any leaks. But hey, my house has some copper, and some PEX, either one works as I say, but don't claim that somehow the copper fittings have less losses than PEX, simply not true.

Dan I think you have been misinformed. Pex does reduce flow and the fittings further reduce, yes not much but it does. For example install pex from a delta shower valve to the spout and you will have a shower head that will drip ALOT. Delta states that pex is not allowed for this reason and recommends only copper
 

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Discussion Starter #7
wow, lots of good responses. i love this place. :thumbup:

plumber101: it was on another forum i was reading. they didn't seem to like sharkbites at all.

ari001: yeah, the crimp or expansion tools are pricey. soldering tools look like ~$60 or so. i'm on a $2000 budget for the project so every dollar counts. depending on how many sharkbites i'd have to use, it might end up being more expensive.

daniel holzman: good info. i'm a mechanical engineer so i love that stuff. :) is wirsbo the preferred brand? i've seen a couple out there.

jdc: good catch. hadn't thought about renting the pex tools. hmmm....

it's good to know the options as i get through this. i'm just about done with demo. the fiberglass shower is out, the floors are down to the plywood, the vanities are out and being refaced, and some of the walls are opened up. time to start building it back up.
 

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Back to the basics guys. Sharkbite fittings are not allowed in all areas by code and are still a compression fitting. PVC is used on cold water lines while CPVC is usually required on hot water lines. Sounds like a call to the local Code office is in order for the OP.
 

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Yes, the place where you can learn what is, and what is not, permitted in your specific area.
 

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We pick these?
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Indy

I asked my local building inspector as he was signing off my under-slab drainage to be covered if he was okay with sharkbites/push fittings to be inside finished walls. He said they weren't disallowed by our local code thus he would approve them, so I'm using a bunch of them to tie in new pex with old copper and to replace some failing soldered fittings that were previously concealed.

I've seen no compelling evidence that these fittings aren't as good or better, installed properly, as any other connection. A poorly executed solder-joint vs. a properly installed sharkbite... I'm no plumber but I know I can install a push-fitting, thus a clear choice for me.
 

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As stated, local code rules. No matter what, it doesn't make the product any better or worse, just legal. I was amazed when I learned here that the wax seals with the plastic funnel were not code in Oregon. Guess I am just "old school" and after 35 years of doing it by code, I accept it, even though I don't always agree with it.
 

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Heck if you look on ebay you can buy the crimping toll for around $60 the cof of 6 or 7 sharkbites and then use pex fitting and crimp rings which will save you more $$$ than buying sharkbite fittings
 

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Discussion Starter #14
i was wondering about those ebay pex tools. i'll rarely use it so as long as it makes a good crimp, i don't care much about durability of the tool. i'm leaning towards sharkbites to connect into the old copper and cpvc for the rest. i'd be most comfortable working with it and no expensive(ish) tools required. i just need to check on those SBs to see if they're kosher in my area. anyone know off hand?
if i'm feeling adventurous, i might just do it all in copper. it DOES yield a nice looking end result and i can appreciate the proven longevity. i'll just need to practice a few times first.
 

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transition

you could hire a plumber to sweat a couple adapters on the lines and finish the job yourself. just a thought. breid
 

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djrussell I dont know what the codes are for your area but in mine when I first started useing sharkbite they were neither allowed or dis allowed i guess they were waiting for more testing ? but I used them anyway now they are approved so I have had them in for over 4 years now and a couple are transitioned from copper I have had to move several a few times due to reconfigrations( wife wants thing different after I get half way done go figure) any way I have had zero leaks even in the coldest of winter so dont be worried about useing them I love em if they are allowed in your area just make sure you get the pex all the way in
 

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Discussion Starter #17
thanks for the extra advice. i just talked with the plumbing inspector about a few things. i got his cell number. cool. :)

sharkbite fittings aren't allowed behind walls in my county. cpvc or pex fittings need to be brass. no plastic fittings behind walls either. i'm also relieved to find out that i don't need a permit to do this. the ordinances read like i would but not so. if i'm changing from a tub to shower though, he recommended pulling one though since the drain size is different. tubs are 1-1/2" (what's in there now), showers are 2". i can glue some ABS together though and slope it just fine so i'll probably skip that inspection.

so it looks like i'll need to get some transition fittings sweated on. what would you all say is a fair price for a plumber to do that? i have a feeling that after the "trip charge" i might as well just do it myself. and if that's the case, i'll just do the rest in copper too.
 
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