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Thread: Repiping PB to PEX from slab to fixture... details?

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    DIY Senior Member miamicanes's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Pembroke Pines, FL

    Default Repiping PB to PEX from slab to fixture... details?

    Tomorrow, I'm planning to replace the polybutylene pipes for 3 fixtures. At the moment, the PB emerges from the slab parallel to a steel marker conduit (about 1/2" away), connects to another run of PB via a plastic fitting (whose replacement is the main purpose of tomorrow's project), then the second piece of PB gets unceremoniously bent, runs through the wall, and ends up crimped to a plastic valve.

    I'm looking for suggestions as to the best specific way to get from the slab-PB to the fixture. Keep in mind that I have high intelligence, but terrible dexterity and zero experience with anything besides Sharkbite (however, the Sharkbite fittings elsewhere in the house have been in place now for more than 2 years, with zero leakage).

    As a practical matter, all new piping has to be PEX. Well, ok... copper might be negotiable, but I'd have to use Sharkbite push fittings because soldering is out of the question, and compression fittings that have to be "tight enough... but not TOO tight" scare the bejesus out of me

    Decision 1: crimped copper rings, or pinched stainless-steel clamps (both presumably Sharkbite, both from Home Depot).

    I'm leaning towards clamps, simply because the PB (after I cut away the old plastic fitting) will be shorter than the steel marker conduit that's literally a half-inch away, and I really don't think there will be room TO crimp. The fact that clamping involves pinching the ring shut from the front seems to make it an easy decision.

    Why not Sharkbite push fittings? Because I'm ultimately going to be replacing about 20-30 plastic couplings and fittings in my quest (Qest? Ok, bad pun...) to abolish all the above-slab PB from my house (or at least, all the crimped plastic connectors/fittings, and accessible pipe runs as the opportunity presents itself over the next couple of years... bathroom now, kitchen later). Behind the kitchen wall, there's a manifold with at least 8 connections. AFAIK, there's no such thing as a 100%-Sharkbite manifold, and at some point I'm going to HAVE to crimp/clamp at least the manifold, so I might as well get the tool now and save ~25-50% on all the connectors in the meantime.

    possible complication: The Sharkbite PB-PEX adapter includes a black and a copper crimp ring. Can I toss both in the trash (or a box for future hoarding), and use stainless steel clamps instead? Or is there some technical reason why I'd HAVE to crimp the PB end?

    Decision 2: PB-PEX adapter to valve.

    Idea #1: PEX through right-angle plastic mounting bracket that maintains precise curvature and gives me a hole I can use to screw the bracket to a stud and somewhat immobilize the bracket, the out a hole in the wall & through the escutcheon, then directly clamped onto the back of a right-angle valve.

    Idea #2: ~4 inches of PEX to a Sharkbite copper rough-in tube. Copper tube through the wall and escutcheon, terminating at a push-on Copper-CPVC-PEX right-angle valve.

    Idea #3: ~4 inches of PEX up to a Sharkbite 1/2" FIP mount that's bolted to a stud, with 1/2" 3-4"steel pipe screwed into the Sharkbite FIP mount, through the wall and escutcheon, and terminating at a valve screwed onto the ~3-4" pipe.

    Idea #3 seems to be the most mechanically-solid, but I still have nightmares remembering how hard it was to get the pipes and valves screwed together tightly enough to not leak when I plumbed the master bath this way a couple of years ago. To be honest, I still don't completely trust them to never, ever leak a single drop, and I probably never will. This is also the most expensive option (with brushed nickel-like stainless steel pipe and valve, it'll cost me at least $50-100 more than the other two options by the time I'm done with the sink and toilet). I still remember seeing the plumber I hired 2 weeks ago to fix my original PB leak turn pale when he saw the antiqued-brass ones I used in the master bath & say, "Jesus Christ, those are expensive pipes and valves. You really didn't have to go that far overboard".

    Idea #1 pretty much replicates the current setup, but with PEX instead of PB.

    Idea #2 is basically the compromise between the cheapest and most expensive extremes, but would also cost me about $10-15 more per valve to do than idea #1, and I'm doing 3 valves tomorrow (1 toilet, 2 sink). If I'm going to spend $30-50 more, I'd like to feel like there was at least some meaningful reason for doing so. If I do #3, at least I'll have nice-looking brushed nickel-finish stainless steel pipes sticking out of the wall and terminating at similarly-pretty valves. If I do #2, it's going to look almost as cheap as #1, but cost almost as much as #3.

    (I'm going to go lay out the parts I have now and take some pics to illustrate this with)
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    Last edited by miamicanes; 03-08-2013 at 08:44 PM.

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