Copper or PEX?

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  #1  
Old 09-14-04, 06:48 PM
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Copper or PEX?

We have old, galvanized pipes in our home and our water pressure is becoming less and less. I'd like to eventually redo the entire system, but I don't want to invest a lot into it.

I like the idea of PEX tubing and using a home-run manifold, thinking that it will be much easier to work with, and I also thought for some reason, it would be cheaper. However, looking more at copper, it seems that may be the cheaper route.

We have a typical 1300 sq ft ranch home with 2 full baths, and a basement for easy access. Any advice on which way to go?

Thanks very much for your help.

Monty
 
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Old 09-15-04, 08:42 PM
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milhouse,

From where I'm at, it's a 'no-brainer' -- PEX ain't legal here. Hmmm... maybe the folks at the bldg. dept. know something we don't, and that's why it ain't legal???

Copper.
 
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Old 09-16-04, 06:47 AM
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Just the opposite here.
PEX is legal and preferred by the local plumbers. They will install PEX unless a homeowner specs copper, especially in a re-plumbing job.
Sometimes building departments don't necessarily keep up with things, or there may be a specific reason that PEX isn't allowed (earthquakes?). See which your plumbing contractor recommends and the cost difference.
Good Luck!
Mike
 
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Old 09-16-04, 09:04 AM
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Thanks to both of you for your response.

My question about the cost is related to me redoing the plumbing on our house myself. I'm trying to decide which way is cheaper since I know either material will be quality (assuming I do quality work).

Is copper cheaper than PEX when you consider the manifold, fittings, buying/renting a crimper, etc? Or is PEX cheaper than copper when it's all said and done?

Thanks again for your help.

Monty
 
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Old 09-16-04, 04:00 PM
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milhouse, Based solely on the one replumb I looked into for a friend last year, (and keeping in mind that PEX isn't legal where I live, but it can be used 30 miles away), here's what I found.

Nobody around here rents the crimpers. My friend would have had to buy it in order to replumb his house. (After that, it becomes an expensive dust collector for him!!) Needed one for 1/2" lines and another for 3/4" lines -- at about $125 a pop. Different brands may be different -- you may find one crimper that can crimp both sizes of line. There is also a 3/8" line -- that means a 3rd crimper. And Brand "A" Pex has to have Brand "A's" crimper -- Brand "B's" wouldn't work on it. The crimp rings are sized differently. (At least this is what I was told at a plumbing supply in an area where PEX is legal.)

Bottom line for my friend -- it was quicker and cheaper to have a plumbing contractor come in from 30 miles away and replumb the house than it would have been to do it himself or have me do it, and the plumber who actually did it traded most of his labor charges for the cabinet work my friend did for him.
 
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Old 09-19-04, 12:10 PM
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One of the reasons in my area it is not permitted is because of the past failures of PB and BlueMax piping.

Even though it is used in other countries with plausible track records, the rule of water quality isn't the same from town to town, let alone country to country.

I am sure eventually it will become code in my area also.....but copper is #1 in this area, then #2 is CPVC which is going to keep me gainfully employed in service repairs when that piping reaches about 12 years old. I will be there for the repipes back to copper. $$$$


If you are doing a repipe, you have to oversize your lines to larger diameter to make up for the sizing that 1/2" pex lacks. Otherwise your shower faucets will not operate correctly.

Pex will require you to run separate home runs to a bathroom. In other words, 5 runs of water lines which turns into a great deal of pipe, instead of 2 normal lines with branch-offs.


GOOD LUCK
 
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Old 09-19-04, 12:34 PM
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Wink

Just do it in copper for sure.

ED
 
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Old 09-19-04, 02:25 PM
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Pex is plumbed in the same as copper, the crimp tool used in PEX RTI system can be used on all sizes up to 1"

Sizing the system is no different then sizing copper.

Sorry Steve, don't mean to rattle anyones bones here, but I've been into pex for some time now, and it is a good system.
 
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Old 09-19-04, 06:53 PM
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Hey Ron,

None rattled here. I reinjured my back this weekend and that is going to put me down for awhile it looks. I kinda think they will approve PEX here eventually since the material is getting some good reviews in some areas around the United States. Another forum I belong to has discussions about the vulnerability to mice eating the material causing holes in the piping. But how often is that going to happen.


Clarify if you could, but I was told that 1/2" pex has a smaller inside diameter than standard 1/2" copper pipe. Are you saying that PEX is not done off of a home run system with a manifold system, or can PEX be ran with crimp connections behind a closed wall? I know compression wouldn't be allowed.
Granted, I hear there are many types of this material; majakdragon posted a PDF file of QESTPEX on a older thread and I was shocked to see that the material only had a 10 year warranty. http://www.pep-plastic.com/manufactu...PEXInstall.pdf
 

Last edited by DUNBAR PLUMBER; 09-19-04 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 09-19-04, 07:19 PM
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Ron, Steve,

Here in Shasta County, PEX or PVC and CPVC are simple not allowed for plumbing inside the perimeter of the foundation. (If it looks like plastic, smells like plastic and bends like plastic, then it's for outdoor use only.) Therefore, I have virtually no experience with it, other than looking into it for one replumb. WHY it's not allowed is probably like you said Steve -- a bad taste left in the mouth of the bldg. officals from things like PB, etc. I do know that it's used pretty extensively around Sacramento, and it hasn't fallen apart yet.

Nobody is rattling cages or stepping on toes here as far as I'm concerned. Whether PEX or copper is better, I have no way to judge -- local code wouldn't allow my to install PEX, so I have no way to compare the two.
 
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Old 09-19-04, 07:22 PM
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Thanks again for everyone's input. I checked into copper tubing over the weekend and found it to be a lot cheaper than I had thought. I estimated needing around 200 ft of tubing, and at $3.98 per 10 ft, sounds good to me. I'm guessing I can do the entire system, supply and drain lines, for under $300.

That leads to another question though. Will 1/2" supply lines throughout be sufficient? We have 3/4" coming from the meter.

I've got some extra tubing laying around the house and some fittings, so I'll be practicing my sweating before I do anything.

Thanks again for your advice.
 
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Old 09-19-04, 08:09 PM
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Hi Mike,

CPVC leaves a taste in the water but not PEX.

Hi Steve,

Yes the ID is a bit smaller, OD is the same as copper, but it has in no way effected the flow rate in all the valves I've installed, i.e. name them, no change.

PEX can be crimped inside all walls no restrictions by code.

QwestPEX is not allowed where I'm at, when I make a repair on this type of pipe, there is a Quest x PEX fitting that is used for the transition crimp x crimp.

Hi milhouse,

Rule of thumb, no more then 2 fixtures on one 1/2" run, other words run 3/4 and branch down to 1/2" for each hot and cold side.
 
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