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Thread: PEX Pros and Cons

  1. #1

    Default PEX Pros and Cons

    I am going to replumb my house and am planning to use Vanguard PEX piping - existing pipe is galv, and I think tie ins will be easier. The pipe will be in a crawl space in coastal VA.

    What are the pros and cons of this product?

    If I go with PEX should I spend the $$ for a manifold?

    If I go with PEX should I use crimp rings or do the side cinch rings work just as well - some of my connections will be in tight spots and the cinch rings seem more forgiving?

    Any help or insight is greatly appreciated

  2. #2

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    With the PEX you will need to get the crimp ring tool made for your PEX tubing. I have never used Vanguard but you should do a search on it with goggle.

    Are you planning on changing it all the way to the valves? Sometimes with old galv it can be a pain to get adapt to the old pipe. It would also be a place for leaks in the old parts of the pipes.

    As far as a whole house manifold I hate them. I will put 4 port manifolds in a bathroom in the shower access door and use them for the bathroom but don’t like to use one manifold for the whole house. I like to just T off where needed.


    *** edit ***
    I am anti PEX because of the local codes where I’m at. But as a whole, PEX is a good product if it is done right. Where I’m at you have to support the PEX every 2 feet and it must run in straight lines. Most places it will pass as long as it looks nice.
    Last edited by got_nailed; 11-13-2007 at 05:07 AM.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    I'm sure the PEX would work fine, but since you are working in crawl space it might actually be easier to run main lines with 3/4" CPVC, which could be attached to the bottoms of the joists. You could run PEX in places where you have access problems.

    CPVC meets code in most places and the system is quite a bit less expensive than PEX because the fittings and valves are less expensive.

    It is also easy to tee off CPVC so there is no need for manifolds.

    CPVC is also available in pipe sizes (though not at HD and places like that) so it could be an equivalent size replacement for the iron pipe.

  4. #4
    DIY Member thegallery's Avatar
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    Default pex looks great but...

    I have only just discovered pex after being out of the plumbing world for a decade. It looks absolutely fantastic; certainly a homeowners dream come true.

    But for all it's simplicity the connection methods are another story. Not that they aren't simple within themselves, just a bit expensive and confusing as a whole.

    It seems there are two or more crimp systems, and you have to possibly match them up with their particular rings and fittings.

    Then there are the cinch clamps with the slightly cheaper cinching clamp tool.

    Then there is the expansion system which I have no idea whether it's one more different systems. And the expansion tools start on average about double the price of the crimp tools.

    Then there are the Watts Quick Connects.

    As a homeowner looking to put in a basement bathroom the quick connects are probably the method of choice. They will marry themselves between the copper and pex and require no tools at all. Plus they come apart easily. But they are very expensive; at least five times the cost of the standard pex fittings. For a non-professional doing a small job though they are probably the way to go.

    But with all the ring systems I wonder what it is that makes the tools so expensive? The powered crimpers are over $1000 and the hand tools, which look like fancy lock cutters, easily go over $100. On that large auction site and pexcrimper.com you can find a $35-poor man's crimper that you work with Vice Grips. There a couple of good reviews out there too. And as it seems wise to also invest in a tube cutter and a crimp remover tool I could probably go with that system and get all three tools for about $100.

    But I wonder; what about hose clamps? You know the kind that you see in your car? They have worked very well for many years and are used universally in the auto industry. I have even used them in plumbing when connecting one of those rubber couplers in a drain line. Surely they would work for the pex system too?

    Don't get me wrong; I’m not about to experiment with them. It just seems a simpler cheaper alternative for the homeowner would be great, even if it takes extra time.

    By the way, the pex manifolds also seem expensive compared to there other fittings, though I’m sure they are awesome solutions. However, when investigating the Watts Quick Connects they have some that you can string together to make your own manifold at any size. Yes, expensive as general fittings, but maybe a cheaper option for a manifold.
    Last edited by thegallery; 12-17-2007 at 10:56 AM.

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    PEX is a good product, stay away from cpvc if there is any chance of freezing, ever, it will break for sure. PEX is very good and easy to use, but as of now there are problems with some brands as far as fittings. I would use PEX for sure, but try not to put fittings where you can't get at them. Wirsbo PEX is best, but the expansion tools are costly. Vanguard is good, zurn has brass fittings that have failed in some water conditions, see lawsuit info at http://www.zurnclassaction.com/ . Viega looks good too, but newer. Kitec has a law suit too. For more information on PEX and compatibility go to http://www.pexinfo.com/ for more info. As a home owner buy one system and the tools for that system and stick with it, don't mix and match even though some systems and tools are compatible. In my opinion the rings are better than the cinch tabs,zurn calls them qickclamp rings, but the wirsbo expansion is the best especially for tight spots. They do make close quarter crimp tools for the crimps. The ones with the cinch tabs made from stainless steel do have the advantage of using one tool instead of needing a tool for each size. In my opinion though I would go wirsbo expansion, crimp then the tabs.

    This is a rather old thread. I wonder if the job got done?
    Last edited by construct30; 12-17-2007 at 01:38 PM.

  6. #6

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    I like and use Vanguard.

    Fer pity's sake, never use a hose clamp on any of this kind of pipe!

    I have a manifold in my own house and like them. It's the kind of whole-house manifold with the valves for each line. If I need to change or repair something, I simply shut it off at the manifold. The best purpose of the manifold is balancing water usage throughout the house - you won't get scalded in a shower if someone flushes a toilet. In addition, the smaller lines can save energy because you only run a fraction of the water through the line while waiting for hot. But balancing that is that you then have to wait for hot again at a different fixture.

    In a tee & elbows system, you can put a recirculating pump under a bathroom sink to keep hot water through your (insulated) system. But to run a recirculating system, it's supposed to be all metal pipe. So it's out in a manifold system.

    But all points considered, I like manifolds. I like that there are no elbows or tees or other fittings buried in the walls where I cannot reach them.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herk View Post
    I like and use Vanguard.

    Fer pity's sake, never use a hose clamp on any of this kind of pipe!
    QickClamps are not hose clamps they are PEX crimps go here http://www.zurn.com/operations/pexrh...in/ZNPA154.pdf to read about them.

  8. #8
    DIY Member thegallery's Avatar
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    I found some other idealists asking the same question on other forums and like the answers here they talk about how auto hose clams are definitely not suited for the pex system.

    Iím now liking the idea of the expansion system most but the cost of the tools, including a cutter and remover will run upward of $250; perhaps a bit cheaper at the auctions.

    I would assume I could use it in the years to come, but it is hard to justify one right now. (Let me know if any of you will let me borrow yours cheap!)

    I read of one suggestion to run all your pipes without making the connections; then rent the tool and do the whole job at once. I'd rather not do it that way, but we'll see.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member Marlin336's Avatar
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    For the average homeowner $250 is a great deal.
    If you want to do copper you are going to spend $100 for a cheap sweat setup. If you don't want to swing a big tank around then a B tank with a few tips and such will run you upwards of $300. I think a new tank, turbo torch, and full set of tips was close to $500 last I checked.
    Then when you pay $13 for a 20ft leanth as opposed to $45 that tool just pays for itself very quickly. Don't go buy the cheapest stuff you can find on **** though.
    Last edited by Marlin336; 12-17-2007 at 06:50 PM.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegallery View Post
    I’m now liking the idea of the expansion system most but the cost of the tools, including a cutter and remover will run upward of $250; perhaps a bit cheaper at the auctions
    I would love to get the tools for the wirsbo expansion system for $250, I think you will find that an expander and the dies will run closer to $300 and up on the auction site plus shipping. $450 from the local suppliers here. The cheaper zurn crimp tools run over $250 at the box stores. The zurn qickclamp system will run $150 or less because you use one crimp tool for most of the sizes. I wonder why zurn can't spell quick?
    Last edited by construct30; 12-17-2007 at 07:32 PM.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Livin4Real's Avatar
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    Just replumbed our entire house start to finish with Pex and am very happy with it. I used a manabloc as well and am glad I spent the money on it. We can wash clothes, flush the toilet, take a shower all at once with no flux in temps, just a small drop in pressure but barely noticeable. I used Durapex tubing (m enards) and Sioux Chief crimpers with copper crimp rings. I used pex for stubouts for the shower and tub as well and have had no problems with "dribbling" showerheads as has been mentioned here before.
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  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member Livin4Real's Avatar
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    avoid Zurn
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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Livin4Real View Post
    avoid Zurn
    Why.......

  14. #14
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herk View Post
    In a tee & elbows system, you can put a recirculating pump under a bathroom sink to keep hot water through your (insulated) system. But to run a recirculating system, it's supposed to be all metal pipe. So it's out in a manifold system.
    Is that in some specification that can be cited, or is it an "old plumbers" tale?

  15. #15
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegallery View Post
    I have only just discovered pex after being out of the plumbing world for a decade. It looks absolutely fantastic; certainly a homeowners dream come true.

    But for all it's simplicity the connection methods are another story. Not that they aren't simple within themselves, just a bit expensive and confusing as a whole.

    It seems there are two or more crimp systems, and you have to possibly match them up with their particular rings and fittings.

    Then there are the cinch clamps with the slightly cheaper cinching clamp tool.

    Then there is the expansion system which I have no idea whether it's one more different systems. And the expansion tools start on average about double the price of the crimp tools.

    Then there are the Watts Quick Connects.

    As a homeowner looking to put in a basement bathroom the quick connects are probably the method of choice. They will marry themselves between the copper and pex and require no tools at all. Plus they come apart easily. But they are very expensive; at least five times the cost of the standard pex fittings. For a non-professional doing a small job though they are probably the way to go.

    But with all the ring systems I wonder what it is that makes the tools so expensive? The powered crimpers are over $1000 and the hand tools, which look like fancy lock cutters, easily go over $100. On that large auction site and pexcrimper.com you can find a $35-poor man's crimper that you work with Vice Grips. There a couple of good reviews out there too. And as it seems wise to also invest in a tube cutter and a crimp remover tool I could probably go with that system and get all three tools for about $100.

    But I wonder; what about hose clamps? You know the kind that you see in your car? They have worked very well for many years and are used universally in the auto industry. I have even used them in plumbing when connecting one of those rubber couplers in a drain line. Surely they would work for the pex system too?

    Don't get me wrong; Iím not about to experiment with them. It just seems a simpler cheaper alternative for the homeowner would be great, even if it takes extra time.

    By the way, the pex manifolds also seem expensive compared to there other fittings, though Iím sure they are awesome solutions. However, when investigating the Watts Quick Connects they have some that you can string together to make your own manifold at any size. Yes, expensive as general fittings, but maybe a cheaper option for a manifold.
    I wouldn't wonder if, in the minefield of lawsuits over various plastic plumbing systems, it isn't always safest for both manufacturers and plumbers to stick with a single brand.

    That being said, the PEX is being made in CTS sizes to SDR-9 standards, so if the tubing is NSF-approved, it would presumably have to be within certain tolerances, and usable with a variety of connectors. I certainly had no issues with using QickTite compression couplings on some PEX of unknown origin. (outdoors, on severed walkway-warming pipes)

    The clamp specialists, Oetiker, have 'stepless' crimp clamps and ratcheting crimping tools for PEX

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