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Thread: Need Help working with PEX

  1. #1

    Default Need Help working with PEX

    Hi:

    Iím thinking of re-plumbing my potable water needs with a PEX system. I have a slightly aggressive water condition (although safe for consumption)that is pitting my copper pipes (22 year old home), plus my water pressure isnít the greatest. Iím currently afraid to try and increase the pressure with thin (schedule M) pipes that tends to pit as it is.)

    My plumbing skills are limited- I can solder, however if Iím going to replace the copper- I donít want to use copper again even with a better (thicker) pipe since eventually they will leak again- plus, I donít relish the thought of soldering in tight places.

    Everything Iíve read about PEX seems to work for me. It will not be affected by the aggressive water, and can be easily installed. (I do have some concerns about mice eating at the PEX??)

    My first set of questions regard the different methods for joining the tubing to connections. Itís my understanding that the different systems are unique and must be used consistently. I was thinking of using the Wisbro system of compression and expansion. Does one tool do both? Can it be used in relatively tight spaces (under sinks)? Do I have to get special PEX tubing for this system?

    My current game plan is to modify my current copper plumbing with PEX. I have a two story home with an exposed basement ceiling. I can clearly trace where the ĹĒ copper pipes branch off the ĺĒ main to the separate sites of the kitchen and Ĺ bath above on the first floor. I am considering disconnecting and sealing off the current ĹĒ pipes that feed to the kitchen and re plumb PEX from a manifold to each fixture. The ĺĒ copper would then be connected as a separate line in the manifold as well to continue to supply water to the second floor.

    The reason Iím not thinking of redoing the 2nd floor plumbing immediately is because it presents some major obstacles for my limited plumbing and carpentry skills. The current pipes are hidden in the walls and ceilings, and I donít know exactly where they are. (Ideally if I knew where they were I could cut them out and replace them with PEX tubing, fishing them through the same holes in the walls and joists. Instead Iím considering a new route maybe through closets etc. to reach the upstairs fixtures.

    I'm not concerned with the copper terminations on a pex system failing for many reasons, primarily because the copper failures that I have experienced are never on vertical members, only on the horizontal pipe.

    Any thoughts or comments are most welcome.

    Thanks,
    Don

  2. #2
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Other than the obvious pin hole leaks in copper, acidic/aggressive water eats all metals and adds them to the water. If you ingest the water, that's not healthy.

    So you should treat your water to prevent the corrosion in the entire system including any new (expensive) copper stub outs you'll prevent adding metals to the water.

    I suggest a correctly sized for the SFR your house and family size requires, backwashed acid neutralizing (AN) filter with a Clack WS-1 control valve.

    If you install one, then you can take your time replacing the old copper one piece at a time.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser
    Other than the obvious pin hole leaks in copper, acidic/aggressive water eats all metals and adds them to the water. If you ingest the water, that's not healthy.
    Gary:

    Thanks, I'll Triple check on the safety of the water, but my town health official, and all others involved in this process have told me that the water is safe to consume. BTW the water is not acidic, in fact it's about a 7.4 ph

    Can you give me any help with the questions I raised about the Wisbro tool, or about my plan in general?

    Thanks
    Don

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Making the connection with the Wirsbo (Uphonor) system...you slide a pex collar over the end of the cut tubing. Slide in the expander tool...expand the tubing and the collar, slide the now bigger opening over the fiting, hold for a moment until the tubing contracts back to its original size making the connection and you're done. There is no crimping with this system.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    Making the connection with the Wirsbo (Uphonor) system...you slide a pex collar over the end of the cut tubing. Slide in the expander tool...expand the tubing and the collar, slide the now bigger opening over the fiting, hold for a moment until the tubing contracts back to its original size making the connection and you're done. There is no crimping with this system.
    So this is the only tool I need?

    http://www.pexsupply.com/categories....D=559&brandid=

    Can you send me a link to these collars, because I don't see them on the Pex Supply site

    Thanks
    Don
    Last edited by DonM; 10-17-2007 at 03:29 PM.

  6. #6
    Plumber BAPlumber's Avatar
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    http://www.pexsupply.com/CategoryPre...D=526&brandid=

    the expander tool with the appropraite heads and a tubing cutter that will cut the pex square are pretty much all you need.
    Brent

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BAPlumber
    http://www.pexsupply.com/CategoryPre...D=526&brandid=

    the expander tool with the appropraite heads and a tubing cutter that will cut the pex square are pretty much all you need.
    Thanks BAPlumber:

    Are these the collars that jadnashua was referring to:

    http://www.pexsupply.com/categories....D=537&brandid=

  8. #8
    Plumber BAPlumber's Avatar
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    yes, those are the collars. just make sure you use the wirsbo fittings and wirsbo tubing. You might be able to rent the expander tool, I think they retail between $300-400.
    Brent

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member Livin4Real's Avatar
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    I'm in the process of redoing our entire house with pex as well. If you have the funds you should pick up a manabloc and do all individual runs. I'm using the crimp method for my install, tool was $90 and does 3/4" and 1/2" pex. Just avoid zurn fittings if you go the crimp route, they have a class-action suit against them right now for them breaking. I picked up my manabloc and other supplies at http://www.mvsupply.biz/ got the tubing at m*nards.
    Helpful Guides

  10. #10
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking Wirsbo Pex

    This is the best system to use although it
    takes a little getting used to and some fore-arm strength...to work the expander too

    we use only the black plastic fittings with this system...
    and they seem to work great...

    the 1/2 pipe is very easy to work...

    the 3/4 can be very hard on the fore arms if you have a lot to do...

    try to think of it as a free work out at a jym
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I was a little scared of the stuff it at first

    you should try a number of trial fittings before you
    fly into it....fool around with it and get used to it....

    the secret with wirsbo is-----
    clean --non greasy oiley tools and or hands...

    if you can keep your hands from getting soldering flux
    on them or putty or wd40 oils, it all goes very well...

    it seems to transfer onto the wirsbo from your hands
    and when you try to expand the pipes the outer ring will
    slide up the pipe instead of expanding.....
    and then you have a real fight on your hands...

    the other important secret I learned...

    always adjust that outer expanding ring
    to where it barely lips over the actual inner pipe about an
    1/32nd of an inch...... or just a hair..

    that is something you basically just have to learn
    from sight... and after you expand the fitting you learn to
    move that ring with your hand or tap it with come channel locks
    into position.....

    you can re-expand the stuff all you want..

    but as long as the outer clampiing ring
    lips over the water pipe just a hair and then you install
    the fitting it always seems to work good...

    the reverse application of this process always leads to trouble


    enjoy .....

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark
    we use only the black plastic fittings with this system...
    and they seem to work great...

    I've only seen these white rings:
    http://www.pexsupply.com/categories....D=537&brandid=

    Do you have a source for the black one's you mentioned? Are they better than the white, or is it just the contrast vs the tubing to allow you to better see that 1/32" overlap?


    you should try a number of trial fittings before you
    fly into it....fool around with it and get used to it....

    the secret with wirsbo is-----
    clean --non greasy oiley tools and or hands...

    the other important secret I learned...

    always adjust that outer expanding ring
    to where it barely lips over the actual inner pipe about an
    1/32nd of an inch...... or just a hair..
    Thank you for these very insightful comments- very helpful!!

    Do you recommend using a copper transitional stub out from the Pex like this for hooking into sink faucets:
    http://www.pexsupply.com/Categories....D=421&brandid=

    or should I use something like this for sinks:
    http://www.pexsupply.com/Categories....D=483&brandid=

    and this for toilets:
    http://www.pexsupply.com/Categories....D=424&brandid=


    Thanks again for your help

    Don

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Livin4Real
    I'm in the process of redoing our entire house with pex as well. If you have the funds you should pick up a manabloc and do all individual runs. I'm using the crimp method for my install, tool was $90 and does 3/4" and 1/2" pex. Just avoid zurn fittings if you go the crimp route, they have a class-action suit against them right now for them breaking. I picked up my manabloc and other supplies at http://www.mvsupply.biz/ got the tubing at m*nards.
    Thanks for these tips about the manabloc and the Zurn. I'm leaning towards the Wirsbro system and they have a block system as well and I think you can also use the manabloc with Wirsbro.

    Do you know diameter of the guts of the manabloc- not the fitting for the intake but the interior size??

  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Mark is talking about the fittings, not the collars...the part you insert into the expanded pipe.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    Mark is talking about the fittings, not the collars...the part you insert into the expanded pipe.
    Yes I can see that now that I've re read it- thanks.

    Does this mean he suggests that I stay away from the brass or copper fittings?

    I see mostly brass and copper??

    Don

  15. #15

    Default FYI, downsides of PEX

    The downsides of PEX are ......

    Some information I found to share. Good link to video at bottom of meeage.

    1- Rodents seem to love the stuff. Given the opportunity, they'll chew on it like it was cotton-candy.

    2- Biofilm formation. This is particularly true for seldom used runs and dead-end runs on non-chlorinated potable water systems. Every run from a manifold in a home-run system is actually a dead-end run. Think legionaire's disease. Consequently, if you don't have a chlorinated water supply you'd be well-advised to sterlize/shock the entire system every year.

    3- Already mentioned....The tools to fasten PEX are kinda pricey....as are the fittings....if they are of good quality. (I personally prefer the Wirsbo/Uponor expander system over the crimped-ring type of connections) If you're only running PEX to this one basement bar.......you be better off borrowing or renting the tools or using the shark-bite fittings instead.

    (4- PEX does not get along with UV........at all. Avoid using it where sunlight will strike it or storing it in a similar situation)

    If you should buy an expander tool or a crimping tool, you must use the fittings and/or crimp rings from that specific manufacturer. IOW, if you buy the Wirsbo/Uponor tool, you must use their fittings and if you buy one of the several brands of crimping tools, you must use their fittings. Plumbing supply houses will be the source for Uponor while DIYer/big-boxes will carry some of the other brands of tools and fittings. See who carries what before you buy. And unfortunately, even if big-box X carries brand X now....there's no guarantee that they will a month from now. Plumbing supply houses will be more steadfast in their offerings because they supply the plumbers in the area.

    (The cheap PEX tools found at some big-boxes such as Sioux Chief brand are worth far less than you pay for them. The fittings and rings are comprised of very cheap metals and their crimping tools don't last. I've seen the results of leaks/failures from these cheap tools/fittings firsthand. Avoid them is my advice.)

    If you're not that familiar with PEX......here's a little primer video.
    http://www.taunton.com/finehomebuild...nnections.aspx

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