replacing copper pipe

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Old 10-09-13, 12:49 PM
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replacing copper pipe

The copper lines in my basement keep getting pinholes probally from the hard water. Well anyway Im tired of replacing it and want to replace it with either pex or pvc or something else. I just sprung another leak coming out of my water softener so I need to start there. I wont be replacing it all but piece by piece as tthe copper goes bad. Anyway, whats the best route for this? Whats the best and easiest to use?
 
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Old 10-09-13, 01:30 PM
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Ok after researching some I see pex is th eway to go. But, If I replace copper that is free standing vertically, how would pex work as it isnt stiff enough to stand up on its own?
 
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Old 10-09-13, 01:36 PM
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When you replaced your copper pipe did you replace it with type M? Type M is more durable than the other types of copper pipe as it is thicker than most copper pipe and can withstand the problems hard water can produce in copper pipe for a longer time.

But is your problem really hard water? It might not be hard water but rather a chemical that was added to the water supply. I am not sure what the chemical was in our area nor why they added it but our water authority WSSC added a chemical that over time caused problems with the pipes. After many complaints and investigations on their part the chemical was removed. So you might get rid of the leak but still have water problems. So some investigation on your part is needed.

I really can't blame you though for wanting to change your plumbing but plastic pipe has been known in the past to burst and cause a great deal of damage. Granted today's plastic pipes are better but I still don't trust them which is why I am staying with copper. Pex is basically a hose but is made better than the average hose as its real name is cross linked polyethylene which means that it has very strong fibers going through it.

Of your two choices that you have thought about Pex is the easiest to deal with and for the most part the average homeowner could even install it themselves. However you can't connect pex directly to a faucet you still need a very small amount of copper to connect your sink to the pex. Also you need a manifold that has shut off valves marked so you can turn the water off in a bathroom etc. So no more shut off valves under the sink and you still need a small amount of copper to connect things in the basement. The manifold is also made of copper too.

If you use plastic pipe then you are talking about cutting into walls and if you have a finished basement a great deal of the ceiling. With pex though not so much because you can run it like electric wire and is something you see used in the great majority of This Old House projects because you can run it very fast through your house. A friend of ours in Tennessee used that for his big garage he had built and so far I haven't heard any complaints about it so I think it is a fairly good product. I hope this helps.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 01:45 PM
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You need to staple Pex to a board or on to the studs if you open a wall. However if you can just snake through the Pex then you don't need to worry about how it is. You can use pex for about anything even boiler water but you need a plumber to give you assistance as you can't use the same temperature as you can with copper. So it is great for radiant heat but much higher temperatures like for baseboard no. As for water heater heat no problem but there again some copper needs to remain. You will though eliminate about 85% or so of copper.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 02:16 PM
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Hedgeclippers made a couple of errors in his posts. Type M copper is NOT the heaviest but the lightest (thinnest) wall copper. Copper tubing/pipe is most commonly of type K, type L and type M wall thickness with type K being the heaviest/thickest.

You cannot use regular PEX for heating boiler water as it will allow atmospheric oxygen to permeate the tubing wall. For heating applications you MUST use a PEX tubing that has an oxygen barrier. Oxygen-barrier PEX most certainly CAN be used for baseboard convectors.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 02:18 PM
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I have well water so no the water isnt chemically treated. The part right now I need to replace is freestanding going from my well pump to my water softener horizonally so I guess I need to use pvc or cpvc. Could I use both pvc on parts that have no support and pex along the joist? Also, Im replacing 1/2" copper. Would I gain any pressure going to 3/4"?
 
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Old 10-09-13, 03:25 PM
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hi panter Ė

Iím no expert, and no plumber for sure, but I have done quite a bit of research and work on my own well based system. I have copper also. Pinhole leaks in copper can be caused by acidic well water, that is, well water with a low ph.

There seems to be no great understanding of what causes these pinhole leaks, but low ph seems to be one cause, and you can in fact rough-test your ph with even a cheap ph test kit you can get from KMart or pool stores etc. (My ph is 5.5, which is low.)

If your well water does have a low ph then you may start to get pinhole leaks in pipes in the walls also, not just in the basement. Thatís what terrified me! (Even though I only sprung a pinhole leak in a galvanized steel nipple in the basement, not actually in the copper piping). So I installed an Acid Neutralizer (AN) filter to correct my low ph problem. Just mentioning that because if you do in fact have a low ph, then unless you are going to change ALL the piping in your house to plastic, you may not be solving the problem.

If you do have a real low ph, then maybe you could think about treating the water to fix it and compare that to the cost of re-piping your house.

Also, are you sure the copper pipe is Ĺ inch? As I said, Iím no plumber for sure, but I would think the pipe from your well pump to your softener would be at least ĺ?
 
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Old 10-09-13, 04:05 PM
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Copper

If you replace all your copper at once. or save all the copper, as you take it out piecemeal it has a fair amount of scrap value. It may even pay for the pex. To get the most out of the scrap. cut off all the tees, and elbows, and of course the brass valves, to sell them separate. So you will have # 1 copper, # 2 copper, and brass. All separate prices, and a little more money for you.
Sid
 
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Old 10-11-13, 06:16 AM
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I would definitely vote for replacing with PEX, and I would do it before you get another leak. Those pinhole leaks are a pain as it takes a while for the leak to show up.

I'm sure you could run PEX from your pump to the softener somehow. Either with a support against the wall or some kind of support from the ceiling. If you take a picture of your setup I'm sure someone here can give you a good idea.

Though the crimping tool is a bit pricey up front, the time you'll save from cleaning and soldering copper will blow you away (at least it did me). And Sid is right on the mark, the recycled copper will probably pay for all the new materials!
 
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