Paranoid now about PEX pipe install?

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  #1  
Old 04-14-18, 10:38 PM
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Paranoid now about PEX pipe install?

Hi.

I need to have some copper water pipe replaced in the basement due to some pinhole leaks. House was built in 1971, so the copper I would assume is from around then. I've been reading all these things about PEX may have chemicals that can leach into the water and stuff.

I was told by a plumber that I should use PEX since it's cheaper and quicker to put in, etc.

What should I do? Copper or PEX?

Is it best to just filter at the tap and not worry about it? I'm a paranoid type I guess.
 
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  #2  
Old 04-14-18, 11:34 PM
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Your water mains are plastic.
 
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Old 04-15-18, 01:41 AM
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Mains are not always plastic...in fact that would probably be a very small minority.

Don't worry about the PEX. You ARE being very paranoid. Copper (esp old soldered copper) releases more stuff into the water more than likely, esp if you have bad water. PEX is very inert under almost any water condition. It may cause some smell and taste issues, esp when new but those should fade with use and could likely be rectified with a simple activated charcoal filter, either tap mounted or pitcher.

I bet I can find waaaay more articles about steak being bad for me than you found about PEX. Am I going to stop eating steak...no way in [email protected]#$!
 
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Old 04-15-18, 04:03 AM
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Now if you had what we have here you could be paranoid. We have asbestos cement water mains.
 
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Old 04-15-18, 06:05 AM
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I was told by a plumber that I should use PEX since it's cheaper and quicker to put in, etc.

Cheaper and faster do not always mean better. Personally copper is at the top of my short list for water systems.

Maybe a follow up question, why are you seeing leaks, is there a water quality issue?
 
  #6  
Old 04-15-18, 08:15 AM
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I've been using Pex ever since it came out and never had an issue.
Only time there was an odor or taste issue was because of the water or a bad anode tube in the water heater, not the Pex.
I can not think of a single good reason to use copper or CPVC anymore.
When you have those old copper pipes removed and see what's inside you'll be amazed what you see and soon forget about those false post about PEX.
 
  #7  
Old 04-15-18, 09:25 AM
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If you read the internet long enough you'll find examples of how everything in life is out to kill you. I wouldn't give another thought to plastic pipe, it's been safely in use for years and is where all commercial, residential, and supply piping is going.
 
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Old 04-15-18, 01:58 PM
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where all commercial, residential, and supply piping is going.

To each their own but for this old school I would never, ever, use plastic in a house I build for my clients or myself.

As noted it may be cheaper and easier (for somebody), but that is not always the right way!
 
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Old 04-15-18, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Marq1 View Post
Cheaper and faster do not always mean better. Personally copper is at the top of my short list for water systems.

Maybe a follow up question, why are you seeing leaks, is there a water quality issue?
The leaks are some pinhole on the cold water lines I was told. They're from 1971 I assume, so maybe they're just getting old? The majority look good to me though. It's a small house, so there's not a lot of piping, save for the ones going to the baseboard heaters and those all look clean from what I can see.
 
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Old 04-16-18, 08:04 AM
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The copper used was most likely the wrong type. It should have been type L, but many builders cheat and use thinner(and cheaper) type M . The pinholes are caused by water turbulence created when the pipe is not properly reamed after making cuts. If you insist on using Pex because it's 'faster and easier', realize also that it cannot be sterilized-although if you're on a municipal water system, it already contains a lot of chlorine, what you'll save on "pipe" you'll spend on fittings and hangers,( which are only as good as the installer), and should something happen, like a nail or screw pierce it,-it's not easily repaired. From my perspective, you could really save alot by just using a garden hose for your water line.
 
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Old 04-16-18, 08:21 AM
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On a side note, the copper has been leaching in to the water for years. How do you think the pipes have eroded?
 
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Old 04-16-18, 08:50 AM
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A lot of areas have acid water, I had to put in a chemical feeder and a water softener to correct my problem. So anyway now I have city water, Its just OK, but at least I don't have to service and maintain the machinery anymore, I gave them to someone who could use them.
Sid
Oh yeah, I still have copper, maybe it will keep the Legionaires disease away.
 

Last edited by sidny; 04-16-18 at 08:54 AM. Reason: forgot something
  #13  
Old 04-16-18, 09:17 AM
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I'm on city water also here in Maine.
 
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Old 04-16-18, 09:47 AM
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Sterilizing potable water pipes?
Legionaires disease in closed pipes?
Copper leaching?
Unsafe city water (think Flint, MI)?
Type L for low pressure drinking water supplies?

You've all got ME paranoid now!
 
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Old 04-16-18, 04:36 PM
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Well had a plumber over today and he said "If it were me I'd just replace the section that is leaking" "Copper pipe lasts for 60 years and the rest looks good". He wants $250 to replace about 5 feet I think. He said It's a FLAT RATE.

He said "He wouldn't replace the whole pipe if it's not leaking" He looks to be very young, as was the last plumber this company sent. I'd say he's mid 20's.
 
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Old 04-17-18, 06:00 AM
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I'm curious; since just about every product I pick up now has the "California Warning" on it ["WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."], have they put it on PEX? Not worried, we repiped with PEX about 2 years ago and would do it again.
 
  #17  
Old 04-17-18, 07:35 AM
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For $250 the kid will use the pipe cutter in his pocket to cut the copper, a box knife to cut the PEX he has on the truck, and 2 Sharkbite connectors. 10 minutes later he'll be on the road looking for his next victim...err...customer.
 
  #18  
Old 04-17-18, 07:55 AM
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IMHO $250 isn’t all that bad – even thought a 5’ pipe is only about:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/3-4-in-x...L005/203540901

and the few couplings are cheap. But I wouldn’t let him use Sharkbites – make sure he solders.

I would check out the wall thickness and condition of the pipe that he cuts out. That might give you some idea of the condition of the rest of the copper piping. Mine is 50 yrs and still working fine. If the water isn’t corrosive (and municipal water shouldn’t be) copper is known to last even up to 80 years.

Type (i.e., M,L,or K) came up in a previous post. I think many localities require “L”, mine does. (“M” is too thin.) I’d make sure he installs “L”.

(OK I see what guy is saying, a PEX patch in. I wouldn't do that. I thought the kid meant he would replace copper with copper.
 
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Old 04-17-18, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by zoesdad View Post
IMHO $250 isn’t all that bad – even thought a 5’ pipe is only about:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/3-4-in-x...L005/203540901

and the few couplings are cheap. But I wouldn’t let him use Sharkbites – make sure he solders.

I would check out the wall thickness and condition of the pipe that he cuts out. That might give you some idea of the condition of the rest of the copper piping. Mine is 50 yrs and still working fine. If the water isn’t corrosive (and municipal water shouldn’t be) copper is known to last even up to 80 years.

Type (i.e., M,L,or K) came up in a previous post. I think many localities require “L”, mine does. (“M” is too thin.) I’d make sure he installs “L”.

(OK I see what guy is saying, a PEX patch in. I wouldn't do that. I thought the kid meant he would replace copper with copper.
Yeah, thanks he said they use type L I believe. This is a "big chain" type company that does Plumbing and Heating. Sort of like a Home Depot of Plumbing lol, but they seem to be ok. He said "We charge a flat rate to be fair ..." Yeah right ... sure ... but I just want tot get it done and as long as it comes out good.

I told him I wanted copper, not PEX, although he said "he did his whole house in PEX and tore out all his copper".

I don't know if he's going to try and use SHARK BITES. Why specifically are they bad to use? Should I insist that he solders?

Thanks ! He's coming tomorrow.
 
  #20  
Old 04-17-18, 12:03 PM
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he said "he did his whole house in PEX and tore out all his copper".

I’ve heard other people say that also. I just don’t get it. Why tear out perfectly good copper unless you are springing leaks all over the place. Maybe it just makes people feel more secure in that they won’t get a surprise leak someday – or maybe he already knew his pipes were in pretty bad shape or – and this is my cynical bad guy talking lol – maybe he is setting you up to try and get you to do a total PEX conversion. (Yea – I admit, I have a slightly sicko side –lol).

I don’t think it’s real common, but I think there are in fact cases where the PEX connections leak because – supposedly – the PEX wasn’t installed properly. That just doesn’t seem to happen with copper soldered connections.

(Well he did say this -
" "Copper pipe lasts for 60 years and the rest looks good".
so I guess he isn't trying to set you up for a total conversion.


I have used sharkbites but I'm no expert. They work fine. But a soldered connection I think just has a long history of being a really good leak-free connection that is not going to change or deteriorate in the future. Maybe the other guys will weigh in. But I bet he will just solder in the new pipe. I'm pretty sure that's the norm.
 

Last edited by zoesdad; 04-17-18 at 12:22 PM. Reason: added sharkbite
  #21  
Old 04-17-18, 02:02 PM
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A lot of areas REQUIRE that this sort of work is done by a licensed plumber and that it is inspected. Yeah, I know that seems dumb, but the reasoning is that you are connecting into a municipal system.... And even though L copper is spec'ed for residential waterlines, most home builders use M (and get away with it) if they even use copper.
The copper leaching isn't an issue. The concern with sweated joints was the paranoia surrounding lead poisoning and the lead content that was in the 50-50 solder being used. The solder that's used now isn't an issue.
 
  #22  
Old 04-18-18, 11:34 PM
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Thanks all they came and took about an hour to solder in about 5 feet of new copper pipe. The solder joints look good and no more leak.

When going to turn off the water they found out that the MAIN shut off doesn't work, so they did it some other way. They quoted me $500 to fix the main shut off valve. Is that a lot for that?
 
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Old 04-19-18, 12:44 AM
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Brian...you need to learn basic plumbing skills. $40-50 in materials and tools, some practice, and with some hints from the folks here, you'll be able to do all this stuff yourself. $250 for an hours work and maybe $10 in material? WOW!

Somehow I don't think the guy is going to freeze the pipe to replace the valve. He'll probably turn it off at the meter (takes a $10-20 tool or a call to the supplier...depends on your local rules), cut the pipe, put some stubs in the valve and use a couple of slip couplings to connect it. $20 in parts and maybe 30 min to an hour depending on location of the valve. $500??????

You need to either learn, or find a better plumber. If you don't want to learn to solder, use Sharkbite stuff. It's been in use for many years in AU. Ok for in wall use here now as well.
 
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Old 04-19-18, 01:23 AM
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Did you happen to save the bad section of copper? You can call the Copper Development Association and send it to them. They can probably tell you why it failed. Copper is great water piping as long as the water isn't acidic.

https://www.copper.org/
 
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Old 04-19-18, 08:46 AM
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$500 sounds like a lot to me anyway!! Do you know where the main is? You really should in case of an emergency. I would go to the main valve and turn it off and see actually how much water is leaking through. Open the closest faucet or something like that with the valve turned off. I think that would tell you how bad the leak is.

If the valve has a very small leak, and shutting it off in an emergency would still protect your house from a flood, then maybe you could wait for a while to replace the valve. In the meantime you could maybe learn the plumbing skills (as recommended in a previous post) to replace the valve yourself.

At least that’s the way it seems to me.

(just remembered, I think licensed plumbers are allowed to turn OFF city side shutoff valve. Maybe that's what they did if your valve doesn't work at all. but testing would tell you that)
 

Last edited by zoesdad; 04-19-18 at 09:02 AM. Reason: added just...
  #26  
Old 04-19-18, 10:58 AM
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A big plumbing company quoted me $250 to replace a leaking main shutoff. That was until we realized the curb shutoff was literally under a ~70 year old tree trunk. (That project became much more expensive quickly).

$250 for any kind of work for an hour or two seems reasonable Expensive yes, but when you consider their travel costs, overhead, etc. it all adds up quickly. I tend to like working with the smaller local companies - they are typically more cost competitive and it's always nice to get to know the people who are working for you.

But yes - doing it yourself will ALWAYS be cheaper. Though I wouldn't suggest a main shutoff valve replacement to be a good first DIY project. Too many things that can go wrong and cause a mess or at least end up without water for a while while you wait on a pro.
 
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Old 04-20-18, 02:20 AM
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Thanks everyone!

This is the main shut off valve INSIDE the house in the basement. He said it should be fixed in case I have a leaking pipe or something so that I can shut it off.

I don't feel comfortable doing it myself. The problem with calling ANY plumber for an estimate is that they charge you $80 each or around there. I think I might call a local small plumber though and see what they get to do it.

This large company rep that came yesterday to replace the copper pipe said I couldn't do it myself because I'd have to have the water company come and shut off the main somewhere outside while I fixed the interior valve, etc.
 
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Old 04-20-18, 03:59 AM
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couldn't do it myself because I'd have to have the water company come and shut off the main
That may indeed be true, some places have that rule or at least strongly recommend it. But...so what if you have to call them? (Does the plumber also have to have them do it?) So you learn to solder, call and set up a time for turn off and turn on, boom...you save $450. Do they charge? Will they turn off and on the same day? Do they really CARE if you turn it back on? What I'd do is call the water company and verify what the plumber said. If they say...no, you can turn it back on after we verify it's working or some such...you'll know the "big company" plumber was lying through his teeth.

Did you ask the plumber WHY it was going to cost so much? It should be very little more work than the repair that was just done if the valve is accessible. If sheetrock needs to be removed, you could do that part of the work yourself so they don't charge for it. Did you ask what they were going to replace it with? If they say anything other than a good quality ball valve...call another plumber. In fact...you should call another few places anyway. They don't have to come out to give an estimate on small jobs if you describe the problem well and maybe send a few pictures. I've always found smaller established companies much easier to work with than the big names.

Boy...am I glad I live in a small town. They have no problems with you doing things yourself and are happy to advise you any way they can.
 
  #29  
Old 04-21-18, 07:55 AM
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04-19-18, 12:58 PM #26
Zorfdt[
A big plumbing company quoted me $250 to replace a leaking main shutoff. That was until we realized the curb shutoff was literally under a ~70 year old tree trunk. (That project became much more expensive quickly).
Stop paying your water bill and let the water company fix the main shutoff. j/k
 
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Old 04-27-18, 10:57 AM
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Plumbers and Electricians charge enormous prices for their knowledge and skill. Ask what the job is gonna cost then ask what thier labor rate per hour is and then how long it will take to do the job. Most of the time it doesn't add up. Then if you have the job done see how long it actually takes. I will guarantee you the numbers don't add up. Not saying they don't deserve it but I'm not going to pay it. That's what YouTube is for. Learn the skills. They are easy to learn. You would be surprise what you can do. Replacing a shut off valve in your basement should be a breeze. I turn the water off at our meter all the time. Never really asked if i could. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. You do need a special T-Handle tool to do it but they only cost about $15 and your hardware store should carry them. Better to have it and know how to use it than to not and flood your house out. The pipe before the shut off could burst. Murphy's law.

Besides that is what this forum is for. To learn how to do it and do it right.

skeeter
 
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