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Old 10-10-12, 06:26 PM
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More PEX questions

Are there any locations or situations where copper is chosen over PEX? I'm planning to completely re-plumb a cottage next spring. Location is northern Michigan so score 1 for PEX if it's more freeze tolerant. Most of the piping will be run in an unheated crawlspace, and one part of the cottage is on a slab so I will be hammering out a trench leading to the future laundry area. Is PEX OK to bury or encase in cement? Is PEX a problem for winterizing...given that it sags between clamps on horizontal runs?

And will I be dollars ahead outfitting a new PEX toolbox with the money saved on copper--for which I already have the tools & experience?

Another question: Since I'm unfamiliar with PEX and initially won't recognize bad supplies vs. good stuff--do the Borgs stock good tackle or will I be advised to shop at plumbing outlets?
 
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Old 10-10-12, 06:40 PM
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Moved your post to its own thread.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 05:12 AM
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I only know of a couple places where copper is better than PEX and it's a rare situation. You do not want PEX directly feeding a steam generator for a steam shower/sauna or on the steam generator's output. When feeding a steam generator I come out of the generator for a foot with copper before connecting to PEX. On the output side I run the entire distance in copper and insulate. But, not the sort of issue you'll have with most summer cottages.

Nothing special is needed for winterizing PEX. It readily expands and contracts with the ice without harm. I just leave the water in the lines but if you can slope everything to a low point for draining that would be best, but difficult to accomplish.

The worst thing are the fixtures. I turn off the water and relieve all the pressure in the system. Leave all faucets and valves in the full open position. Drain or sponge out all the water from the toilet bowl and tank and put antifreeze of some type in the toilet bowl trap. Also, don't forget to drain the sink traps or pour antifreeze into them as well.

One common "gotcha" is the riser pipe between the tub faucet and shower head and any water that may be trapped in the shower head itself. Turn the shower diverter valve or make sure the lever/knob is pulled out to the tub position, allowing the water in the riser pipe to drain. Most simple shower heads drain on their own but fancy massaging/pulsating ones can trap water and need to be removed and shaken until you get the water out.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 05:36 AM
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I don't want this to be another winterizing topic--that part I have figured out. Just wanted to know if PEX could split if water froze in the low spots (sagging) or any other special considerations. There was a comment in the thread I posted in from another PEX user who had frequent leaks after the winter.

I'd also like to know if the tools I will need for working with PEX will pay for themselves right away or over many small jobs.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 06:04 AM
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Just wanted to know if PEX could split if water froze in the low spots (sagging) or any other special considerations.

Its more forgiving then copper. I have had pex freeze solid and not split, but anything can happen.

The person who had frequent leaks did not specify where the leaks were. It was a broad statement. Possibly improper fitting/crimping? Tool out of adjustment? many factors that were untold.
I'd also like to know if the tools I will need for working with PEX will pay for themselves right away or over many small jobs.
Basic tool kit is around $120 buck. Pays for itself the first job you do. Cuts labor down substantially. Plus factor in copper $ vs pex $ for material and you will see what I mean.



 
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Old 10-11-12, 10:34 AM
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There was a comment in the thread I posted in from another PEX user who had frequent leaks after the winter.
That was my thread
I can't comment on their specific leaking issues as I had not seen it firsthand. It was second hand news I received during a water cooler/coffee pot discussion at the office.

As with yourself, I am redoing my entire house (non-seasonal), and putting down the torch and replacing it with crimpers will be something new to myself.

As for where to use copper over PEX... I have heard the first 12-18" of the exiting (hot pipe) from a domestic hot water tank should copper. I think it may be a building code item in some areas.
I also believe color coded PEX is code in some areas (hot = red, cold = blue). This is not code here, so I'm going white (cheaper) and marking with colored electrical tape where beneficial.

In the end, if you don't have a whole lot of valves to replace, you could possibly break even or even to the good if you resell your copper that you remove.
I don't think I'll break even as I pretty much have to replace all the really old valves.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 10:41 AM
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I'm only looking at material (and initial tooling) costs since labor is free (DIY).

And that other question: Are PEX tools & supplies at the Borg fine or will I be sorry?


I really can't believe I'm considering mobile home piping in my cottage...but I'm a practical man.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 10:49 AM
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I'm not sure what a Borg is...maybe a regional thing? And why you would call it MH piping...I dunno. Most new homes are using PEX for all the reasons listed previously...cost, speed of install, flexibility, reliability, resistance to bursting, etc.....
 
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Old 10-11-12, 11:12 AM
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I'm only looking at material (and initial tooling) costs since labor is free (DIY).

And that other question: Are PEX tools & supplies at the Borg fine or will I be sorry?


I really can't believe I'm considering mobile home piping in my cottage...but I'm a practical man.
The more time you save doing the work, the more beer and fishing time you have (worth more then money in my mind).
Not sure what or where the Borg would be. The tools at the big box hardware store will do the job.
When looking at the cheap starter kits vs. the slightly more expensive ones... The cheaper ones can/will work, but might be a one job tool, where the more expensive ones will last more then the one job.
The cheaper ones may also be slightly harder to use then the more expensive ones. I believe the two crimpers I'm looking at, the more expensive starter kit (~$90) has a ratchet type crimper which makes squeezing a bit easier. If your working all weekend at this, a bit easier on the hands might be worth it.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 12:19 PM
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Borg: "Big Box" store that swallows up all smaller & unique stores while offering uniform sameness to consumers. "Resistance is futile...you will be assimilated".



About those ratcheting crimpers. I'm pretty sure they have a ratchet mechanism to prevent short-cycling (under crimping), but they aren't a multi-squeeze handle that takes less effort. Get the longest handle you can.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 12:43 PM
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PEX, definitely. The time savings is enormous and the materials savings makes it even better.

The next plumbing job I do I'll probably switch to copper and sweated shutoffs where the piping exits from the wall. I don't really like how the PEX just sort of 'hangs' out of the wall. But, that's a minor pet peeve of mine. Certainly no issue, especially considering most shutoffs are in a cabinet never to be seen by anyone but me anyway.

The HD's around here carry all SharkBite PEX supplies (not to be confused with the slide-in connectors). They seem to be of reasonable quality, haven't had any issues.

I've heard PEX is more resilient to freezing, but I would still do my best to drain the system so there are no worries at all. But again, that's just me.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 08:04 PM
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So for a run in an existing slab it's ok to lay it in a trench and cement it in?
 
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Old 10-11-12, 08:31 PM
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Section 11 here

https://www.ppfahome.org/pdf/PEX%20H...t_rev_2008.pdf

For water pipe I believe you keep it below the cement, unlike radiant heat. Also must be sleeved were it exits the slab.

I always did it like that for the poly service lines.

Are you jack hammering? Why not go up in the attic and down?

Anyway when you winterize you use a compressor to blow the lines out.
 
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Old 10-12-12, 07:37 AM
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Gotta install a laundry sink drain anyways so might as well go into the floor. I prefer to keep it simple so I don't want to use a pump on the laundry sink. Plus I've been told by the previous owner that they used to store all liquids in the crawl space because it never got cold enough there to freeze. Up & over would definitely be more risk, and more damage if something goes wrong.

I was reading over the requirements to sleeve the entrance/exit into a slab or foundation, plus laying PEX on a smooth surface before backfilling. Seems to me all these would be easily accomplished by running the tubing through conduit or PVC pipe with a wide sweep elbow where it comes up behind the sink. I like that the PEX wouldn't be sealed in the cement. Is that OK?

I'm going to be doing this the old fashioned way--with a sledge. The slab is only 9 feet across. Unless there's some clever way to "sneak" the tubing & drain under the slab between 2 access holes?? (maybe that should be another topic?)
 
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Old 10-12-12, 07:56 AM
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Gotta install a laundry sink drain anyways so might as well go into the floor. I prefer to keep it simple so I don't want to use a pump on the laundry sink.

What? Jack hammering is keeping it simple....?

Get a liberty pump. This is what I do. I only jack hammer when I absolutely have to. Then just run the drain along the wall and into the crawl. Tie in to the main. ( Cant get any simpler...)

Studor vent but check your local municipality if they are allowed.

Liberty Pumps : Drain Pumps

Plus I've been told by the previous owner that they used to store all liquids in the crawl space because it never got cold enough there to freeze. Up & over would definitely be more risk, and more damage if something goes wrong.

Are you winterizing this cottage? Just blow the lines out with a compressor. You will never have a issue.



But if you like sledge hammering....Let me know hot it works out. Have you ever tried to sledge hammer 4" thick cement????


Just trying to save your back brother!!!!!!







 
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Old 10-12-12, 09:09 PM
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I appreciate the thought but there is an entrance door on that wall and thats why the current drain exits in the corner and drops down the wall outside. It comes back in somewhere underground to tie into the main drain in the crawl. No hope of winter use with the current setup.

I have thought this out and going through the slab is the best...not easiest...way.
 
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