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

  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
    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)
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    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.

  7. #7

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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.

  8. #8
    Rancher
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    Quote Originally Posted by inforapeek View Post
    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.
    OK, what's this about flushing the PEX lines?

    Rancher

  9. #9

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    Here's a link for a study done in 2001, and some of the same results were found in 2004, but I have also read more recent articles - I just have to locate them.


    http://www.chemaxx.com/polytube1.htm

    and...

    http://www.calpipes.org/ProtectingCalifornians_PEX.asp
    Last edited by inforapeek; 01-25-2008 at 07:27 PM.

  10. #10
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    I think CHEMAXX is selling something. He is probably trying to get fees from lawyers who are going to try to sue the PEX companys. He makes it clear in one of the letters to NSF that he is trying to get some kind of research grant.

    Let's analyze Dr. Fox's recommendation.
    "If you plan to move into a new home plumbed with PEX tubing, or have recently done so, and if you are concerned about the possibility of chemicals entering the drinking water, you might want to flush all the lines daily for 1-2 minutes for the first 3-6 months and perhaps once a week for the next 6-12 months. Another helpful approach is to install a reverse osmosis water purification system for drinking water and ice makers. Both flushing and reverse osmosis are recommended."

    A length of pipe may have 1/2 gallon of water in it. If you are using water from that pipe you are in fact flushing it every time you are using it.

    Any PEX that is sold for water systems must be NSF approved.

    I think that Dr. Fox has financial motives related to this issue and his allegations don't seem to be supported by any documented research that I can find.

  11. #11

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    To Bob NH:

    You may be unabel to answer this, but I'm curious if you feel it might be possible to snake the Pex through openings in the lower level ceiling to the openings of the wall in the upper level toilets and sinks? We plan to redo the entire lower level ceiling, so the size and amount of openings aren't an issue.

    I believe the contractor stated he would still need to bring the pipe through the floors of the bathroom vanities and the floor of my kitchen sink cabinet when using PEX. I am trying to avoid this, but did wonder if it were possible to bend the Pex and possibly use the same route as that of the existing copper pipes.

    With PEX, may I assume that all the joints/fittings would be exposed (not in ceilings/walls); therefore. any leak would easily be found and repaired?

    Any advice/opinion on the above is appreciated.

  12. #12
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    What you can run depends largely on the bending radius limits of the PEX and the space available. Uponor says their PEX-a can be bent to 3.5" radius in the 1/2" size.

    I suggest that you search a lot of sites to get ideas on how it is used and installed.
    http://www.phcnews.com/march_07/pex.php

    http://www.olympicradiant.com/pdf/PE...6%5B1%5D-1.pdf
    Last edited by Terry; 03-30-2009 at 10:17 AM.

  13. #13

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    OK, thanks for the links!

  14. #14
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin1 View Post
    Hello Friends, According to me reverse osmosis is a old method and cannot give us the very pure water...nowadays water appliances that can create very pure drinking water from atmospheric air are available. It saves us money on bottling too...
    Whats with the spam....

    Back on topic I hear studies done on pex, CPVC, and copper pipes. Yes you read that right even copper pipes, there was studies stating our children are getting copper poisoned from the copper pipes. I guess we must go back to the old fashioned galvanized piping systems. Everyone can use a little iron in their diet.

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