I had the opportunity to work with PEX for the first time last week.
I personally dont much care for the stuff. I want solid pipe in my
house. However a friend is building a summer cottage and dont know
anything about plumbing. I said I'd give him a hand. He was talked
into PEX at the building supply store. I suggested he return the
stuff and get copper but he said that he was told that the PEX wont
crack if it freezes. I have serious doubts about that being true.
Even if the PEX itself dont crack, the fittings will.
Anyhow, he said he wanted to use it, so I had to learn how myself
since I never used it. He did not have the tool to tighten those
clamps and the tool was $100 for EACH size (1/2 and 3/4). So instead
of using them, he returned them and bought some snap in plastic
fittings that hold the pipe tight once it's pushed in. Seeing those
things made my skin crawl. How in the heck that can be considered a
tight fitting is beyond me. He does not have the well drilled yet so
I wonder if that will hold up or not. He just wanted to get the pipes
in the walls so he could sheetrock them.
Anyhow, when I looked at those tools to crimp the rings in the store,
I saw there are two different tools and two different types of clamps.
One clamp is simply a ring of steel that apparently just gets smaller
once it's in the tool. The other clamps have a piece that sort of
overlaps on the edges and looks somewhat like an automotive hose
clamp. That left me asking which is better, and why? Come to think
of it, why cant hose clamps be used rather than spending all that
money on those tools?
Like I said earlier, I dont put any faith in PEX. To me it seems like
plumbing a house with garden hoses. I'll stick to real metal pipes
for water supply and pvc for drains. I run a farm and use garden
hoses for livestock water tanks, in which they are left on all the
time in warm weather. I have seen far to many of these garden hoses
split and blow up outdoors. Of course outdoors is not as bad as
indoors. PEX might be a little stiffer, but it still is a hose, not a
true pipe. Of course these days everything is plastic and everyone
wants to save a buck. Although in this case the PEX was cheap but
those snap in fittings were close to $5 each. I think copper would
have been comparable in price and a much better choice, but each to
On Oct 22, 4:37 am, email@example.com wrote:
PEX has been used successfully in this country for many years. Much
longer in Europe. Not sure what the connection between garden hoses
and PEX is. You don't have a PEX garden hose do you? Kinda like
comparing galvanized to copper or something like that. 5 or 10
years ago, plumbers would tell me that using PEX vs. copper was a
wash, copper having lower material cost but higher labor cost. Now
with the sky high cost of copper, I don't think anyone in their right
mind is plumbing with all copper any more. When copper first came
out, I'm sure there were people just like you who called it junk and
stuck to their tried and true lead.
Your friend made the right choice. Do tell him though to air test his
system before he covers it up and save himself some grief. (this
would be true with copper too.) If he can't figure out how, he
probably shouldn't be plumbing.
It's weird that PEX has been used for so many years and yet hardly no
one even heard of it until about 2 years ago. It's like hose because
that is basically what it is. Hoses are flexible, pipes are solid. I
can not call PEX a pipe, it's not. It's a hose. Like I said, it's
more rigid and appears stronger than a garden hose, but it's still not
pipe. If I had to re-plumb my house right now with copper prices
high, I'd still use the copper or if I absolutely could not afford it,
I'd go back to galvanized steel pipe.
I am sure we can hook a compressor to it. I wonder how many pounds of
pressure those plastic fittings will handle. Those things seem really
weak and it sure does not take much to release the pipe by pushing
down on that rung that surrounds the pipe. To me, they are fine for a
temporary situation but not permanent.
Just your opinion. Looks like you are very old fashioned.
PEX plumbing around here carries 60 psi water pressure typical.
Of course leak testing was done at higher pressure. My brother-
in-law is commercial HVAC estimator dealing with multi-million $
projects. He says PEX is good stuff.
I am just learning about PEX and have never used it. But a lot of people I
know who are doing real estate rehabs are all saying that PEX is the way to
go. I thought, if nothing else, using PEX would cheapen the value of the
finished house, but they all seem to think that's not true.
I've been doing Internet searches about PEX and noticed that the layout of
the plumbing lines is typically different with PEX vs. copper. With PEX,
they often use a "home run" approach where all of the PEX lines originate at
a main distribution point near the water source (I forget what it's called),
then each line goes directly to the fixture or individual bathroom or
kitchen. I think it saves on using numerous connections and splt-offs and
is supposed to provide better flow and less pressure drop when more than one
line is in use.
All of this is just what I am starting to read about, so I don't know what
the real deal is.
To me, PEX is something used in trailer homes. Real houses use rigid
pipe. Either copper (preferred) or galv. steel. Yes, I might be old
fashioned, and my advanced age may have something to do with it. But
these days everything is some sort of plastic and nothing seems to
last more than a few years anymore. I go to lots of auctions. I see
old machinery, tools, and things like that. Many are 50 or more years
old and are still in excellent shape, because they are made of METAL.
Nopw tell me of any plastic tool that will be alive in 50 years. For
example, I bought a plastic snow shovel. Two snowstorms later it was
broke and in the garbage. I bought another, more expensive plastic
shovel. That one lasted a few more months but broke too. I then
bought a new metal one. The whole shovel was metal, with a wooden
shaft and a plastic grip handle. The shovel and the wood held up
fine, the damn plastic handle broke in no time. I replaced the handle
with steel (at a cost of almost as much as the whole shovel), and no
more problems. Plastics are NOT building materials, are not tools.
Plastics are for toys, cheap temporary disposible items, and for
garbage bags whose life is limited to the time from the source to the
dump. Additiionally, we are all paying high prices for gasoline these
days, and besides fuels, crude oil is the main ingredient in all
plastics. We constantly hear about conserving gas, yet they are
dumping half the crude oil into making plastics that will soon fill a
Ya, the manifold approach is used and supposedly makes for better
water pressure. I can agree with that, but at the same time how many
homes have numerous plumbing fixtures all being used at once? I am
sure a few do, like homes with many kids and adults getting ready for
work/school in the morning, but for most of us, pressure is not an
I am reading about it too, only because of helping this friend install
it. I am not sold on it. If I had to replace my own plumbing right
now, I'd use copper. I doubt I will ever be "sold" on it. It's still
a plastic, and plastics are never as good as metals.
Actually, the grey polybutelene (PB) pipe was most commonly used in
trailer homes. It didn't have a long track record, and did develop
problems after a few years. (Got brittle and crumbled after a while I
think). In our old mobile home, the problems were caused by staples shot
into the water lines by the builders... :)
PEX is a cross-linked polyethelene that has been around for more than 30
years for radiant heating and potable water supplies. It has a long track
record of reliability.
First, copper is getting rather expensive these days (pipe, wire, etc.).
More importantly, copper is prone to damage from freezing, and develops
pinhole leaks when exposed to acidic water. It also requires a torch to
sweat the connections, which is a very real fire risk.
As for galvanized, it rusts and corrodes badly. Leaks are common, and it
slowly fills up with rust till the water supply is completely cut off. I
just replaced the entire plumbing system at my in-laws house because the
pipes had rusted to the point they didn't have water anymore. Galvanized
is also slow and difficult to install.
Plastic lasts a very long time (100+ years supposedly). The problem is
when it's used in "stress" situations. In other words, tools and other
items that rely on strength shouldn't be made of plastic.
Go take a look at copper prices... :)
I don't know if it helps with water pressure, but the main reason for the
manifold system is to reduce the number of fittings in the system (the
most likely failure point).
Dishwasher is washing dishes, refrigerator is filling the ice tray, I
just flushed the toilet, and am washing my hands. It's not difficult to
use multiple fixtures, even if you live alone.
I researched the many plumbing options when we plumbed our house.
Copper was the obvious choice, but our acidic water would quickly cause
problems with copper pipe. Sweating the joints is also a fairly slow and
laborious process, and I wasn't crazy about wielding a torch in our brand
new house. Too easy to start a fire. In addition, copper was already
getting expensive by that time.
I was very interested in PEX, but at the time it was difficult to find
locally and the tool required for the fittings was expensive. I opted not
to use PEX because the supplies were not readily available, which meant
long delays if I needed something I didn't have. I also didn't want to
have problems in the future if I needed to make repairs or alterations.
In the end, I went with CPVC plumbing. It's inexpensive, widely
available, quick and easy to install, doesn't require any special tools,
is lightweight, and impervious to acidic water. However, knowing that
plastic often breaks under stress, I used brass drop ear elbows at each
Different materials for different purposes.
Plastic excels in situations where you need light weight and resistance
Metal is better for items that need strength to endure physical stresses.
I wouldn't want a plastic rake anymore than I want steel garbage bags. :)
On Oct 22, 5:33 am, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Your friend made the right choice. I just did a re-pipe with it using
a PEX "home run" system.
Installation is way faster than copper. The system only has
connections at the manifold & the angle stop. Continuous tube runs,
no extra joints to leak. Any fixture (actually hot or cold) can be
turned off independently of any other fixtures. Great for re-pipes &
Do you use PVC for sprinkler lines / garden plumbing? Or do you use
Different materials for different applications.
I researched PEX & worried about using in vs copper on my re-pipe.
I'm an old school guy so I was really leaning towards copper since
I've used it all my life. I finally made the decision to go with PEX;
easily install in an existing house & easier to implement the home run
I'm not sure about PEX not cracking if it freezes. Its more flexible
than copper but I doubt that its freeze proof & I wouldn't want to
depend on that.
I used the brass fittings & the expander system.
If your friend hasn't done the install I would suggest he switch to
the expander system and use the brass ProPex fititngs
www.pexsupply.com has a great selection of supplies
Expander tools can be rented or bought (used) on Ebay & then re-sold.
I installed it for the radiant heating system in my house over 10 years ago.
It is actually called tubing and not hose. That coil of soft copper
tubing going to the ice maker on your fridge isn't a hose either.
I replumbed a cabin with Pex a few years back after finding the existing
copper pipes burst after being abandoned for a winter without drainage.
Since I had to remove all the rotted flooring, much of the subfloor and
sills, plus the lower wall converings, it was not a process I wanted to
I talked with many local builders and plumbing folks (my wife is in an
associated biz) before deciding on Pex. I used the Wirsbo clamps that
"overlap", with a special crimping tool - see links below. However, the
Wirsbo tool I bought covers all sizes of clamps, since it operates like a
set of pliers with a ratcheting release. I was told they were the easiest
to use, and I sure didn't have any issues with it. I bought it since my
plumbing task was spread out over several weekends, and rentals were spendy.
I have sweated a few copper lines from helping friends do occassional
plumbing work, but Pex is a lot easier to work with. When starting, take a
brass connector, put a short length of Pex on it, and test the crimping of
the clamp. Then use a set of snips to remove the clamp in a few seconds if
it needs to be redone (like when I mounted a valve in reverse, d'oh). Piece
On Oct 22, 7:33 am, email@example.com wrote:
I have done probaly close to 60 homes and cottages in it works fine
much easier than copper and no torch, To pressure test use 50 psi and
listen for leaks , no you can't use hose clamps as they won't hold
well over time tried it on a experiment. Get used to it all homes now
are done in it Not sure if the use of compression fittings inside wall
if that is what you used wouldn't do it any other way than the rings
rent the tool depot here rents it. If this cottage is a ways out then
buy it as the day you need it for whatever reason you have it. Not
going to racing into town is nice .
Just to point out here, that there is a PEX tubing that I believe come in
100' rolls and might be considered hose; AND there are PEX tubing sticks
that come in 20' sticks. One might consider the 20' sticks, a 20' PEX pipe.
You're not alone in your mistrust of PEX. Many local jurisdictions simply
do not allow it by code.
I live in such a place here PEX is not allowed. I suppose it's OK stuff,
but I'm glad my house has copper.
What if PEX turns out to be the equivlent on aluminum wiring in the future?
Hose clamps will not develop nearly enough pressure for a proper connection
with PEX tubing. The crimpers can generally be rented from rental services
or the people who sell the PEX.
I remember when plumbers said nothing would last except galvanized supply
pipe and cast iron drain pipe with oakum and lead joints and I have
installed my share of both. I am pretty sure that electricians thought Romex
cable was not near as safe as a good knob-and-tube wiring system. Just look
how close those wires are together with nothing but plastic between them!!
I understand your concerns and even share them somewhat, but I really think
Pex will turn out fine if properly installed. I don't know if you have
experienced pinhole leaks in copper pipes, but I had one in my water heater
closet and have seen a lot under ground and in concrete.
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