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Thread: PEX in shower & whirlpool

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member clapfc's Avatar
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    Default PEX in shower & whirlpool

    In my long & slow bathroom project I decided I do not have the skill to solder copper (I tried & tried) so I defaulted to PEX. Sharkbite adopter from 1/2 copper to 3/4 PEX and then transition to 1/2 PEX up to shower diverters and whirlpool (still not installed). I used copper rings to crimp the fittings and two days now no leaks. Since I am brand new to PEX I have no comfort level. At what point can I say I am comfortable that the PEX will hold and I can go ahead & put the rest of my walls up? Has anybody had any experience with this? Am I good to go? What are the chances I will develop a leak a week, month, year down the line? I would appreciate the thoughts of anyone who has worked with this system before. I am using Delta fixtues if that matters but no PEX for the sinks. I can use the coppe rin place. Pictures attachedName:  SSL12618.jpg
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    CLAPFC

  2. #2
    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    Pex tends to leak immediately, if its going to leak. I'd pressure test it if you want to be confident... this would probably require draining your house of water though, then you can use a compressor to run pressure through all the lines and see if they hold the same pressure overnight.

    If you don't want to go that extreme (I usually don't, but I'm confident in my pex abilities), then the key thing is to get WATER to all of the fittings. If you haven't opened up the lines to let water through them, you just have pressurized air in there, which is harder to detect a leak. Make sure its water all the way through all fittings, then let it sit overnight again, if no drips you should be good to go.

    None of the shots are very close up of a fitting, but you should have about 1/4" between the edge of the crimp ring and the end of the pex pipe onto the fitting, which should be cut very straight and inserted until it can go no further.

    Also, if you don't have a Go NoGo tool, you should get one and check the outside diameter of the crimps to be sure they meet spec.

    If all of this is good, then the only thing you have to worry about is those damn sharkbite fittings. I have no trust in them. Make absolutely sure that those things are seated all the way in and that there's no sign of moisture whatsoever around them. They're a PITA.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    ONE of the reasons for using PEX is that you do NOT have to use a lot of fittings to make turns. EVERY one of those "inserted" elbows is restricting the flow and their effect is cumulative. (The pipes are already small enough to start with.) BUT, if it is not leaking now, there is no reason to assume ti will leak in the future, and if a leak does develop it would be from some cause other than your installation practices. Don't forget to put "protector plates' over ALL those lines through the studs.
    Last edited by hj; 02-26-2013 at 06:44 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member clapfc's Avatar
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    Default Pex

    Thank you both for responding.

    I actually tried to use the metal 90 turns (in 3rd photo could see a piece of it on the floor) but could not get it to fit snug with the drop in frame and feared it would interfere with the jacuzzi hoses. Maybe I didn't try hard enough? My PEX crimps were pretty good I will try to post a pic soon. 1 or 2 may have a spacing of 1/16 instead of 1/8 to 1/4 but with every crimp I tested with the "go" "no go" tester before I did the next crimp. I have protector plates to use & longer metal plates (can't remember the industry name) to reinforce the 2x4s where I had to cut the chunk out to get to the corner. Tonight I am going add on shut off valves which I did not do earlier. Hearing the experience of those who have been through this really sets my mind at ease.

    Speaking of ease, the PEX system is so easy to use I figured I must be doing something wrong.
    CLAPFC

  5. #5
    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    Glad you like it. Like all systems, it has its positives and negatives, but I tend to like it much better than copper overall.

    Also glad to see you went up to 3/4" pex, this was an appropriate time to do so. The 1/2" feeds to the individual fixtures is good.

    I will echo hj though, that you really don't need, and certainly don't want, all those fittings. I use plastic nail on talons to attach the pex to the studs in a situation like your tub on both sides of the turn. I generally skip the bend supports, as long as you don't kink the pipe, you don't really need them, though the manufactures want them there. I even manage to make 90 degree turns between 2 2x4 walls like you have pictured w/o fittings. You usually have to drill the hole through the 2x4 on a downward angle, if that makes sense, so the pipe would end up 6" to a foot higher/lower on the 2nd wall. That allows you to do a nice gradual turn through the corner. Takes a little practice and a little fighting with the pipe to get them through sometimes, but I think its worth it. You likely won't want to try to make 3/4" go through a tight corner in a wall like that though - its tough. I do it in some cases, but you'll probably end up kinking your pipe if you try it w/o much experience doing it.

    My house is a homerun pex system, so each individual fixture has its own cold and/or hot line all the way from the basement. With only one exception, there are no fittings between the manifold in the basement and the fixture's local shutoff. That one exception was a very tight turn through a 2x3 partition that just wasn't possible to do w/o a fitting. Its a 3 story house with lots of offsets and goofy pipe runs, as they didn't really build houses for convenient piping back in the 1860s...

    If it were me, I'd probably redo your piping while you have the chance, with fewer fittings. Some ways to make this easier... instead of running your lines to the shower valve straight up, bring them up in further over stud bays and run them through a stud (or 2 on one side in your case) to the valve. This will allow you to make nice gradual turns, and the piping going through the studs will keep everything lined up nice w/ no pressure on the valve connections. Like I said, nail on talons for those turns around the tub... those 4 elbows there can definitely go. Think through how to make nice gradual turns anywhere you can, and do it.

    Fittings are for copper

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Each manufacturer will list in their spec sheets the minimum bend radius for their pipe in various sizes. To get the smallest bend, you may need their bend supports. If you do kink the stuff, unless it is type -A, you need to cut out the kink and put in a fitting, or run a new line, though. Type -A pex is the only one you can heat slightly to reform the tubing and expect decent life out of it. Do not try that with types -B or -C.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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