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Thread: Best Home Water Softener System & PEX or CPVC?

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  1. #1

    Default Best Home Water Softener System & PEX or CPVC?

    Hi Guys,

    I posted a few months back in regard to finding a reliable plumber for repiping (corroded copper pipe) our 22yr old multi-level home, on well water. I was undecided between the PEX and the CPVC, but have decided to go with the CPVC (already installed in a newer part of our home). The plumbing contractor recommended and uses PEX in the high end homes he plumbs, but is willing to repipe with whatever material I choose.

    I am still leaning towards the CPVC, due to concerns of fittings, contaminated water, and rodent damage; but, before I make a final decision, I would like to know any concerns of using the CPVC. I am locatd in the upstate of SC, where winters are generally mild and get cold occasionally; but, do I need to worry about cracked pipes and leaks at joints of the pipes installed in the ceilings and walls of the interior of my home?

    Also, do the pipes need to be insulated in my walkable crawlspace? There is a water heater and a heat pump also in that location. The plumber feels those two thing will keep the area warm enough to help prevent freezing. We currently have foam insulation on the copper pipes, but this plumber says it really does not prevent frozen pipes - it only makes the homeowner feel better.

    Thoughts? I welcome any and all of your educated opinions, thanks.


    ** Can anyone recommend a good water softener system (Lowe's/Home Depot) type? **

    thanks again

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The big difference is, if pex DOES freeze, it is unlikely that it will split. Now, a fitting could, but then the advantage to pex is you need few of them when doing home runs, which is the best way to maximize its advantages. Any pipe sitting in below freezing temperatures where there is no flow to replace the water with warmer stuff will freeze given enough exposure.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Like an engineer alternety's Avatar
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    In any event size the pipes based on flow requirements and the type of pipe. Size matters

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the replies. Since I am leaning toward using CPVC, other than good sharp cuts to prevent the pipe from splitting in the first place - once it's in the (insulated) walls/ceilings, are there any worries I need to be concerned about? What is the best way to secure the joints to prevent leaks? Cementing?

    Any pipes that could potentially freeze would be located in the crawlspace with dirt floor - so the damage will be limited. Still, will someone please tell me the best way to insulate. Is the foam, self adhesive sufficient?

    These are professional plumbing contractors, but advice from you guys will help me evaluate what I'm being told by them. Thanks so much.

    Also, any recommendations on type of whole house water softener system?

  5. #5
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    CPVC has a long and successful history in industrial applications. It will work fine in a residence. The 1/2" and 3/4" tube sizes" are available in the "Big box" stores and larger pipe sizes are available at plumbing supply houses.

    It will break if the water freezes.

    If you put the CPVC between the insulation and the heated space it should be OK in South Carolina. If you were to insulate the "crawl space" and have vents that can be closed in cold weather, the ground should keep that area above freezing for a long time after the temperature drops below 32 F.

    If you follow the instructions for cementing the joints they will be stronger than the pipe and bad joints can be easily cut out and replaced.

    You can run CPVC through joists and studs on 16" centers if you are careful when drilling the holes. I have run 10 ft lengths of 1" PVC conduit through joists with some difficulty; 1/2" CPVC is about as easy as PEX and 3/4" can be done without any real difficulty if you keep it around room temperature and locate it near the limit of the edge distance for the joist.

    I don't think you are going to be able to select a water softener, or get any suggestions, until you post flow requirements and results of water tests including at least hardness, iron, manganese, pH, total solids, and the other things that are usually reported. If you have a deep well you will want to know arsenic levels.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob NH View Post
    CPVC has a long and successful history in industrial applications. It will work fine in a residence.

    I don't think you are going to be able to select a water softener, or get any suggestions, until you post flow requirements and results of water tests including at least hardness, iron, manganese, pH, total solids, and the other things that are usually reported. If you have a deep well you will want to know arsenic levels.
    Thank you for your reply, Bob NH and to all who have responded. Even though my heart wants to try the PEX, I don't wish to deal with flushing all the lines the first 3-6 months after installation, and then once a week for the first year. I am also concerned with rodents gnawing - we live in the country.

    The only area I am concerned that the CPVC might freeze is the line that leads to my second story washer, as the washer/dryer units are somewhat cantilevered over the porch ceiling. As long as I add R-30 insulation, do you feel these pipes will be protected?

    Many builders in this area do not insulate pipes in the crawlspace, as they feel that the ground stays warm enough to prevent freezing. Surprisingly, a few attest to leaving a bulb burning. I have three in the crawlspace, along with my water heater and heat pump.

    In regard to the water softener, I plan to test the water again, but was hoping to find a unit that needed salt only 3-4 times a year, as opposed to every month...maybe that will depend on the hardness of my water. Our Lowes only offers Whirlpool and the Home Deport only offers GE.

    Any further suggestions on the above are appreciated, thanks.

  7. #7
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by inforapeek View Post
    Also, any recommendations on type of whole house water softener system?
    I suggest a correctly sized softener, using a Clack WS-1 control valve, based on the water quality, number of permanent residents in the house and the SFR the house requires including the number and type of fixtures you have. See the sizing chart page on my web site for more on that.

    As to the water line material, you can't beat PEX in a homerun design. It won't break like all other materials will if frozen. If you stay with CPVC, run 3/4" because 1/2" fittings have a very small ID.
    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.

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