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Thread: PEX whole house repipe by DIYer with professional assist

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member JGLA's Avatar
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    Lightbulb PEX whole house repipe by DIYer with professional assist

    I wanted to get some feedback on a possible approach to repiping my house. I'm pretty comfortable with DIY work, but I've never tackled anything as extensive as a whole house repipe, so I'm understandably a little hesitant. That said, I do feel like I would be up to the challenge, especially since the one estimate I got came in at $5400. All I have is a one-story, two-bathroom house. I mean, it's one thing if we were talking about copper -- but this was for PEX!

    Anyway... I've done my research, and I think I've pretty much settled on going with Uponor (Wirsbo). What I'd really like to do is find someone local who has experience doing a repipe with Wirsbo PEX (and maybe already has the tool, although even that isn't essential as I can get it on eB**). The main thing is I'd like to find someone who knows how things are done -- the little things, too, like how exactly you get the old pipes out so you can connect your fixtures to the new lines (I've looked at a bunch of DIY plumbing books and nobody ever talks about that!).

    So do you think this is a realistic approach? I'm guessing there isn't enough in it for a plumber contractor, right? So I should concentrate my search on journeyman plumbers? What would be the be the best way to do that, do you think? Service Magic? Angie's List? Craig's List?

    Appreciate any replies.

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    One who lurks Basement_Lurker's Avatar
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    The uponor system is a premium pex solution, and it will get real costly very quick, especially if you opt for brass fittings. The system does take a learning curve. And if you are going to go to the trouble of doing a repipe, you should consider running an upgraded service line from the street while you are at it.
    Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me? -Jack Handy


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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willie G View Post
    The pex at Home Depot and Lowes is a whole lot cheaper and so is the tool. I pipe everything in pex it's so easy a caveman can do it. You can string that stuff almost anywhere and you dont really have to take the old pipes out, just leave them there and nock the pipes that come out of the wall off, it's real easy. You can save hundreds of dollers doing it yourself. I cnat think of any reason to ever get a plummer in when pex is so cheap and easy to do.
    Leave them in the wall?

    Plummer?

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    One who lurks Basement_Lurker's Avatar
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    ...they say ignorance is bliss.
    Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me? -Jack Handy


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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Of course leave them in the wall. Why tear out the walls to take them out when it is not necessary? Home Depot says "anyone can be a plumber if they follow our instructions". As far as the customer helping, I am going to be the one responsible if something goes wrong, so there is no way I am going to trust him to do things properly. Therefore, either I do the entire job, or none of it.
    Last edited by hj; 03-27-2010 at 08:14 AM.

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    DIY Junior Member JGLA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basement_Lurker View Post
    The uponor system is a premium pex solution, and it will get real costly very quick, especially if you opt for brass fittings. The system does take a learning curve. And if you are going to go to the trouble of doing a repipe, you should consider running an upgraded service line from the street while you are at it.
    Thanks for the reply. I really don't see my setup becoming too costly though. I'm planning on a Modified Home-run installation, needing probably 6 2- or 3-outlet tees/manifolds, and I was planning on using EP because I haven't read about a single problem with it. And yes, I was thinking I need to do the service line, too.
    Quote Originally Posted by willie G View Post
    The pex at Home Depot and Lowes is a whole lot cheaper and so is the tool. I pipe everything in pex it's so easy a caveman can do it. You can string that stuff almost anywhere and you dont really have to take the old pipes out, just leave them there and nock the pipes that come out of the wall off, it's real easy. You can save hundreds of dollers doing it yourself. I cnat think of any reason to ever get a plummer in when pex is so cheap and easy to do.
    Thanks, but HD sells Zurn which I just don't trust. Lowe's sells Vanguard, which is part of Viega now, I guess -- better, but I still like the expansion concept of Wirsbo more.
    Quote Originally Posted by willie G View Post
    Why pull them out they are not doing any harm there are they?
    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Of course leave them in the wall. Why tear out the walls to take them out when it is not necessary?
    I've heard this before but please explain it. If I just come up through the floor and not the wall, what do I connect a stop valve to? Just a short piece of pipe? And if so, that's fine for a toilet and maybe the sink, but what do I do about the tub and shower? Obviously I have to go behind the wall for that, and it needs to be where the existing pipes are for everything to still be centered.

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Home Depot says "anyone can be a plumber if they follow our instructions". As far as the customer helping, I am going to be the one responsible if something goes wrong, so there is no way I am going to trust him to do things properly. Therefore, either I do the entire job, or none of it.
    Well, I suppose that's one attitude one can take. I don't want to start a flame war with a moderator with nearly 15,000 posts, but I think it's kind of a cop-out. There could always be a signed agreement stating that you are not responsible if problems arise. As for trusting the customer to do things properly, let me ask you: a) How much do you trust your teaching abilities? b) Who has a greater interest in making sure it's done right than me? and c) Given the fact that I've researched this and decided to go with Uponor instead of the typical DIY route, and that I've demonstrated that I'm smart enough to know that I don't know everything and am actively seeking out help, shouldn't I be entitled to the benefit of the doubt?

  7. #7
    One who lurks Basement_Lurker's Avatar
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    No PEX installation is covered by manufacturer warranty unless it is installed by a licensed plumbing contractor. And no, PEX is not just strung up like wire and arbitrarily stapled. There are many factors to a professional PEX installation, the least of which is allowing for thermal expansion. Problems start happening when "people just string it up like wire."
    Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me? -Jack Handy


    www.blackbirdkitchenandbath.com

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    DIY Junior Member JGLA's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link, Spoonfight. I had actually already downloaded it along with the PPFA's Installation Handbook for PEX Hot- and Cold-Water Distribution Systems, but I appreciate the advice.

    I understand about the warranty, but as you point out, it's the case no matter which brand I go with and, I believe, no matter how small the project is. So unless you're suggesting that no PEX plumbing repairs or projects should be tackled by DIYers (which seems to contradict one of the main purposes of this forum), then it seems to me it boils down to a question of whether it's worth it to me to spend 6 or 7 times the cost of materials to have somebody else do a job that I feel is within my capabilities, just for the peace of mind of a warranty. Considering that the work is going to have to pass a code inspection anyway (which hopefully would catch any serious problems), I'd say no, it's not worth it.

  10. #10
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Like hj, I've done plenty of plumbing in my life.
    Before that, I worked as a mechanic in a bicycle shop for eight years.

    In the Bike shop, we had three rates,
    The more the customer helped, the higher the rate.

    Homeowners have no idea how much they slow us down.
    Sure, you can pay us to work alongside you, just don't expect your help to speed things up.
    It's more like you are paying us to slow down and explain basic plumbing to you.
    You are paying us to teach, not do.

    Whenever a plumber gets handed a new apprentice, you job times take a hit.
    Translation, it cost to have someone inexperienced on the job.

    To flip this around, how much would you be affected on your job, if I hung out with you, and made you explain why you are doing your job that way.
    Remember, I would be paying you, and would expect respect, and time to explain to me, why I'm not smarter then you.
    You would have to slow down, explain why your way is better then the ways I'm thinking of, and if it doesn't make sense to someone untrained in your field, well that's just too bad.
    Convince me you know more about your job then I do.


    Do you see now why it gets a bit sticky?

    I've been using Wirsbo/Uponor
    It is pretty easy.
    Just remember to make your tub valves solid in the wall.
    And no PEX to the tub spout.
    Last edited by Terry; 03-29-2010 at 04:42 PM.

  11. #11
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    It is often cleaner to use the transition stub-outs that change over to copper for stops. They make brackets that can be anchored to hold it where you need it. You can use a standard compression stop directly on the pex if you also buy the SS insert that keeps it from collapsing when you tighten the compression nut up, but, it is harder to keep it from moving if someone pulls on it and if it gets knocked, in the long term, it could be a problem.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  12. #12
    Engineer Spoonfight's Avatar
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    I'm kind of in the same position as the OP. Adding a new bathroom and re piping a small house I was planning on using these to stub out:

    http://www.pexsupply.com/Wirsbo-Upon...pper-3-1-2-x-8

    They have various sizes. Nice thing is, the new ones are all lead free. For the T's and L's, i've heard that at least in certain areas, the EP fittings are preferred to brass due to corrosion concerns.

    I did have one question for the experts here. In the design guide, they mention spacing of the PEX from "heat sources". Are furnace ducts (not flue vents or the furnace itself) considered to be hot enough to warrant the 12" vertical and 6" horizontal spacing? I would like to run the pex up in the floor joists, but I have ducts below the joists that would cross the PEX about 4" below.

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