PDA

View Full Version : PEX - Yea or Nay?



sixlashes
10-28-2008, 04:28 PM
Another thread brought this issue up and I am looking for an experienced opinion. I am planning to use PEX to plumb my home utilizing a manifold for an all-home-run installation. I heard there was a problem with brass fittings. I was planning to use the crimp on rings with brass transition fittings.

Do the benefits of using PEX make it worthwhile? I was a copper only fan until folks I trust talked me into using PEX. What do you think?

Thanks.

nhmaster
10-28-2008, 05:29 PM
Read this excerpt from the IPC. Quite a few plumbing inspectors have refused to allow and in fact made the installers tear out pex that did not comply. This includes but is not limited to Watts, viega, Rehau, Zurn and pretty much any pex tubing that uses an inserted fitting and a crimp ring, band or sleeve.

Reference: IPC 605.5
Category: Water Supply and Distribution
Subject: Materials, Joints and Connections
Code Text: Pipe fittings shall be approved for installation with the piping material installed and shall
conform to the respective pipe standards or one of the standards listed in Table 605.5. All
pipe fittings utilized in water supply systems shall also conform to NSF 61. The fittings shall
not have ledges, shoulders or reductions capable of retarding or obstructing flow in the
piping. Ductile and gray iron pipe fittings shall be cement mortar lined in accordance with

Jay Mpls
10-28-2008, 05:51 PM
I am in! I would run with Veiga or Wirsbo(Uponor).If You have any questions about the brand of PEX you wish to use I would give a call to your local plumbing inspector and run it by him/her.

Redwood
10-28-2008, 07:01 PM
I'll give pex a thumbs up!

crater
10-28-2008, 07:03 PM
one year old house--> home-run system using Pex with crimp rings NO LEAKS from the very start. fingers crossed
Pressure test lines before you cover them.
Places that disallow Pex should really get with the times. The code mentioned should include "the 1000's of standards depending on the inspectors mood" and would only pass some space age material not yet handed down to us by little green men from mars.
Don't get me wrong codes are code and we may have to follow them, but I'll bet there is no one person on this forum that hasn't said that one or another code just doesn't make any sense. These are the very ones that the trades try to get corrected but still slip though the cracks at the "inspectors convention" every year. Until the book gets changed it'll take a engineers stamp to override the code, stupid or not.

Job security I think

nhmaster
10-29-2008, 06:45 AM
Well that little excerpt from the IPC has and will continue to cause problems. Local inspectors do not have the authority to override a code unless the ammendment is more stringent, not less. Even the State inspectors can't give a pass on that one. I've had plumbers assert that if they up size the pex by one pipe size that covers it, but again the code itself does not say that. The code says what it says. If you crimp Watts, Viega, Zurn and then cut the joint laterally you can plainly see a ledge where the fitting inserts into the pipe, and the code strictly prohibits this. Is it stupid? Probably. But again, I would hate to rough an entire house and then have to tear it all out. Even if the local inspector passed it, if it ever came down to a law suit I would be liable, not the inspector. Never assume that because the manufacturer puts this stuff out there that is must be ok to use.

hj
10-29-2008, 07:15 AM
That would be an assine interpretation of the code. That would mean that polyethylene pipe could not use the common barbed fittings, even though they, and the PEX fittings, have passed the IAPMO and other certification tests.

Southern Man
10-29-2008, 07:51 AM
Plumbers love it because its so damn easy running basically hoses through walls. They can leave their chalk line and level in the truck. Plus they don't have to clean and flux, then heat joints inside wood studs. I had my house plumbed with it because I knew it would save time. The only problem that I've had with it is expanding it. The tool to crimp the bands is expensive, and is difficult to fit into tight areas, which are typical with doing retrofits.

This is the same house that the "professional" refused to install a PRV and I found out from the utility that the street pressure is over 150psi. At least I know the stuff has been tested (along with my refrigerator and the rest of the house!).

sixlashes
10-29-2008, 08:25 AM
I see the issue with the reduced internal cross section of the fittings. However; the cross section of the riser tubes for sinks are almost always 1/4". I am all about not cutting down flow. I will indeed call the local inspector to find out his interpretation. Good point that just because the supply house sells it, doesn't mean all of the surrounding county inspectors will pass it.

Has anyone seen any failures with the crimp rings? I remember reading about an issue with the fittings being able to spin after installation. Or issues with the PEX itself? I plan to use drive-in insulators in studs and joists to keep it from possibly chafing. I have access to all sizes of the Zurn crimpers with the go no-go gages.

nhmaster
10-29-2008, 11:18 AM
What can I say? You read it, I read it. It says what it says. I think it's an assinine interpretation also, however it ain't up to us to interpret. Remember this is for supply and distribution piping. Typically insert fittings are used before the supply piping begins. Supply tubes to fixtures have always been exempt in Flow calculations due to the short distance. Nominal passage through a 1/2" pex fitting is about 11/32 nds of an inch compared to 1/2" swett copper, plus the ledge. So you tell me. If you were an inspector would you let it go?

Redwood
10-29-2008, 02:34 PM
I Dunno...
You tell me...


Standards and Approvals
WaterPEX® is manufactured in accordance with American
Standard Testing Methods F-876 and F-877 to SDR-9
dimensional standards. It is listed by the National Sanitation
Foundation NSF-61 for use in potable water systems.
WaterPEX® is also listed by the International Conference
of Building Officials (ICBO), the International Association of
Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and carries the
Uniform Plumbing Code symbol. WaterPEX® is tested and
certified to the Canadian Standard Association (CSA)
standard B137.5. WaterPEX® fittings and pipe are not
compatible with polybutylene pipe or with other cross-linked
pipes and fittings not made to this SDR-9 standard.
it out for fit and appearance, then crimp each connection
for permanence.
http://www.watts.com/pdf/IS-WaterPEX.pdf

Sounds like the IPC might be cotradicting itself...
Maybe you should bring it up for the next round of revisions...

nhmaster
10-29-2008, 04:01 PM
Well ya. All this crap needs to be put up for revision. It's the reason I have been so against the IPC since we adopted the damn thing. It's full of stupid stuff. I really wish that every State would adopt the same code with local revisions. Someone (not me , I have enough crap on my plate) needs to take all of the existing codes and blend them into one sensible, coherent piece of legislation that incontrovertable.

Bill Arden
10-29-2008, 04:06 PM
I've not heard of any problems with regular PEX and brass fittings.

As I understand it the problems were with AL barrier PEX

edit: I thought the expander tool that they used on PBS looked easy to use, but expensive.
They put a larger ring of PEX over the PEX and then used a tool to expand it before putting it over a barbed end.

crater
10-29-2008, 04:36 PM
funny you mention that the fittings spin after crimping. I myself said there was no way that this won't leak (because murphy follows me like my shadow) my fittings spun,not loosely but never the less they could turn. The only problem I had once was with a quick connect Pex fitting. It leaked because I didn't have it all the way on. The kind that just slip onto the end of the tube. My advice; don't use Quick connect fittings, the're way more expensive and seem not to instill the confidence that they won't leak, plus I'm not sure about pressure they'll handle.

Basement_Lurker
10-29-2008, 06:44 PM
Unless you are doing a huge b&t pex system, the small pressure drop caused by the reduced diameter of the crimp fittings is hardly a factor. And yes a crimped fitting can spin if you twist it hard enough...if you think about it, you'd understand why...the crimp ring forces the tubing down onto two grooves which press into the tubing...so you may be able to spin the tubing as the grooves are circular...but you won't be able to pull the joint apart!

Southern Man
10-29-2008, 06:57 PM
Well ya. All this crap needs to be put up for revision. It's the reason I have been so against the IPC since we adopted the damn thing. It's full of stupid stuff. I really wish that every State would adopt the same code with local revisions. Someone (not me , I have enough crap on my plate) needs to take all of the existing codes and blend them into one sensible, coherent piece of legislation that incontrovertable.

Years ago NY State had a nice plumbing code that gave a simple design method for sizing supply lines based on cumulative fixture units. I designed all the plumbing for a 44 unit hotel in about an hour. With the current IBC you need a friigin' computer program to figure it out, even for a small job.

kingsotall
10-29-2008, 08:59 PM
I've not heard of any problems with regular PEX and brass fittings.

As I understand it the problems were with AL barrier PEX

edit: I thought the expander tool that they used on PBS looked easy to use, but expensive.
They put a larger ring of PEX over the PEX and then used a tool to expand it before putting it over a barbed end.

Wirsbo uses this method. Depending on which expander tool you use it can be expensive.

pbaker
11-01-2008, 02:31 PM
I have had 3 failures with pex fittings over the last 7 years. Each of them at the pipes coming in from a well to the water heater. The first was the T fitting coming into the water heater. The next was the 90 coming out of the water heater. Each of these we caught with minimal water clean up. Fortunately we have mostly scored & stained concrete slab, too. The last one was the doozie. It was the 90 going into the water heater. It flooded 70% of the house. I came in and there was 2" of water on the kitchen floor. I heard it in the laundry room, waded to it and there was a jet stream pelting the opposite side wall. I told my wife, "I think it is time to get the manufacturer to see this."

After contacting Zurnpex, shipping the fittings to them and trying to sort it all out, I received a letter last month that the fittings were not theirs, but Dura-Pex. I contacted NIBCO - Dura-Pex and their representative sent me to an insurance company. I was not even talked to by a claims adjuster, only a "Litigation Examiner" who never asked any questions and simply denied the (was not even) claim saying that Consolidated's materials were excluded from their policy. I work in construction, so I know how many unexpected variables can cause failures like this, however, everything I have checked seems to go back to fitting failure... plain and simple. I am not sure of anyone's expertise with this, but I would greatly appreciate any direction and advise offered.

Redwood
11-01-2008, 03:20 PM
P. Baker,
Have a look at this thread...
http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21075

99k
11-01-2008, 08:22 PM
I use the Propress / Viega tool. I presently just crimp copper tubing, however, I can buy a jaw for 3/4 PEX for $100.
Does anyone have experience with the viega PEX. It appears to be a much more robust crimp and looks very similar to a crimp used on a hydraulic line.
Comments?

pbaker
11-02-2008, 04:45 AM
Thanx. Their problem is with the same brand, NIBCO Durapex. My problem is something with our well water and brass fittings. Seems like the tubing is fine (as far as I can tell). The brass fittings corrode and then fracture. I was just hoping someone had this experience somewhere.

NIBCO's insurance company is not standing behind the product made as CPI. Hope this does not get worse. It has cost me several thousand dollars in repairs at this point with 3 different failures on 3 different loctions. If it goes in the attic or the foundation, it is going to be bigtime.

Again, any direction or opinions will be appreciated.

sixlashes
11-02-2008, 07:38 PM
Thank you to everyone for their posts. I should have done a search for PEX on this forum BEFORE I posted this thread. :eek: Although it was an honest question, I am embarrassed to have lobbed out a hand grenade on such a hot issue.

I did not realize the depth and breadth of the problems with PEX installations. While I do not have a hard water issue here, my initial reluctance to use PEX has transformed into resolve to stay away from it. Copper is expensive, but not compared to repair and damage expenditures.

I apologize for posting such a naive thread when this issue has had so much previous attention.

kingsotall
11-02-2008, 07:55 PM
PEX itself is not to blame. It's the fittings by substandard companies.

Sandpiper Plumbing
11-04-2008, 05:06 PM
We use miles and miles of Watts and Viega pex down here year after year. I've never had a problem with a brass fitting.
I'm not a big fan of the manabloc system as I've seem manablocs leak after a few years. I prefer to run 3/4" mains accross the house and use Sioux Chief copper manifolds instead above each bathroom group, laundry/kitchen. I then stub out at each fixture with a Sioux Chief copper stubout and use a standard 5/8OD x 3/8 chrome angle stop at each fixture.

I use it all the time and when the ploy in my house starts to leak, I intend to repipe with Pex.

Terry
11-04-2008, 05:48 PM
I've been using Uponor / Wirsbo PEX for some time, and plenty of others are too.
It's a solid product.

burleymike
11-04-2008, 07:10 PM
While I am no pex expert I have done plenty of research on the stuff. As stated many times it seems that the brass fittings are the weak point.

I plumbed a bathroom addition on my house a little over a year ago with Zurn/Qest Pex and fittings. I used the SSC clamps.

Since Zurn has a lawsuit going over their brass fittings failing due to dezincification I am going to replace all of the fittings.

The only real plumbing supply house in town sells Viega/Vanguard. So far everything I have not found anything about their fittings failing. They also make polysulfone fittings that are supposed to be much more durable. They are hard to get though.

When I replace the Zurn fittings I will take pictures and post them. I am curious to see what the brass looks like.

I decided to buy a crimping tool from the supply house that uses copper crimp rings. I have read a couple of articles that suggest that the SSC clamps may break because stainless is much more brittle than the pex and brass. Over time with the expansion and contraction of the pex and brass it may weaken the stainless.

seaneys
11-04-2008, 10:20 PM
Hello,

I'm a homeowner in ILL just finishing a year long project that included the plumbing for a 3.5 BA addition. I hope to have the final inspection on Friday. I failed the first time due to venting.

I used Pex. I actually used the brand available at a big box store, wasn't confident in the fittings, and then ripped it out and switched to WIRSBO. Wirsbo rocks. Their products seem to be very well thought out and sell designed. The only really annoying thing abour WIRSBO is that I have not been able to find a local vendor who will sell to home owners.

I would definitely check with your inspector before you go with PEX. My inspector basically holds his nose when he sees PEX. He has been very open that he is confident in the solution, but really prefers copper from an appearance and craft perspective.

I'm not sure I saved a lot of time with PEX over copper. It takes time to drill the aditional hold, add the clamps, etc.

I used a tone of bend supports to ensure the appearance was clean.

Steve

nhmaster
11-05-2008, 04:16 AM
We exclusivly use Wirsbo - Uponor Pex and fittings. Their fittings are not restrictive and have no internal ledge.

99k
11-11-2008, 06:24 PM
We exclusivly use Wirsbo - Uponor Pex and fittings. Their fittings are not restrictive and have no internal ledge.
I just watched a video on the wirsbo installation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z06qjFxGjI
Two comments: 1) This appears to be an incredibly slow process 2) I don't see how this is different from other fittings and still has the "ledge". 3) Can you over expand the ring and weaken the joint?
Please enlighten me if I'm missing something. Thanks.

jadnashua
11-11-2008, 08:43 PM
It's my understanding that the ID of their fittings is the same as the tubing...wouldn't be the first time I was wrong. Cleaning, fluxing then soldering copper would be slower. Crimping, by the time you use the go-no-go tool to verify it was good and, if you can get it into a tight space, I think it would take some time, too. The manual expander tool builds forearms! They do make powered ones.

99k
11-12-2008, 06:03 PM
It's my understanding that the ID of their fittings is the same as the tubing...wouldn't be the first time I was wrong. Cleaning, fluxing then soldering copper would be slower. Crimping, by the time you use the go-no-go tool to verify it was good and, if you can get it into a tight space, I think it would take some time, too. The manual expander tool builds forearms! They do make powered ones.

I fixed the link ... check this out because it is much different than you think.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z06qjFxGjI

jadnashua
11-12-2008, 08:13 PM
I've not held a fitting in my hand. But, considering it won't slide into the pipe unless you expand it seems to indicate that it can't be much smaller than the ID. Anyone have a set of calipers and can measure the ID of an Uphonor fitting and the corresponding pex tubing? that would tell you how much restriction there is at a typical fitting. It has to be less than the systems that use crimp rings, otherwise you'd never be able to insert the fitting into the pex.

service plumber brad
11-18-2008, 08:56 AM
as a plumber working in the field for many years, pex is the greatest thing since pvc. we now use it custom homes, multi level retirement homes and especially in remods. where access is limited. it can be fished like wire and i have not seen 1 leak in over yrs. i have even used it in my own home when adding another bathroom. zurn makes a tool that is less than 12" and 1 tool fits all crimps. pex is resistant to poor water conditions and if psi is a concern a pr. regulator can be installed. just my two cents.

master plumber mark
11-18-2008, 02:04 PM
I've not held a fitting in my hand. But, considering it won't slide into the pipe unless you expand it seems to indicate that it can't be much smaller than the ID. Anyone have a set of calipers and can measure the ID of an Uphonor fitting and the corresponding pex tubing? that would tell you how much restriction there is at a typical fitting. It has to be less than the systems that use crimp rings, otherwise you'd never be able to insert the fitting into the pex.


the wirsbo pex fitting makea a mean , mean joint when done properly,,,

if you use the plastic fittinga snd the plastic crimp rings, they literlally will never come apart...

If you use a air compressor and a pneumatic gun to install the stuff , you can fly like the wind..


wheras the ZURN fittings and other brands out there look and are very , very similar to the joints made back in the 80s with the grey poly junk....

I have seen tons of those old crimp fittings showing
stress and strain and leaking at those joints....

I will bet that in time we will be dealing with the same issues with all the pexes except the Wirsbo

actually we already are ..considering that ZURN has a
mess on their hands with their fittings already...


another 10 years and the storm will be here...

99k
11-18-2008, 05:45 PM
the wirsbo pex fitting makea a mean , mean joint when done properly,,,

if you use the plastic fittinga snd the plastic crimp rings, they literlally will never come apart...

If you need to redo a joint and want to salvage the fitting, what is the best method to remove the wirsbo pex pipe and sleeve?

master plumber mark
11-18-2008, 06:37 PM
you dont salvage the fitting...

it is very difficult to get those fittings apart...

you really got to think ahead with this stuff and leave yourself a lot of play room to work with...


If you bunch up those fittings real close and you have
trouble with one, then its the "crying game".....


its best not to re-use any of the wirsbo fittings,
getting them apart can be done only by cutting off the
outer band with either a razor knife or a heated up red hot knife..
and melt it off...


its just best to cut it all out and start over,,,
if you scar the fitting in the least way, you are screwed
it will not show you any mercy... just throw it away

99k
11-20-2008, 12:27 PM
[QUOTE=master plumber mark;167458]you dont salvage the fitting...

it is very difficult to get those fittings apart...

you really got to think ahead with this stuff and leave yourself a lot of play room to work with...

I suspected that much ... removing the SS ring from the watts seems way to easy for me :D It seems like the wirsbo is a much more robust seal.