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 Repipe material question
Author: dollinger (GA)

Hey everyone,

I'm facing a bit of a plumbing dilemma and could use some advice. Here's the situation: I've discovered several pinhole leaks in the copper pipes of our late 60’s built house. On top of that, my wife has been battling stage 4 cancer, undergoing grueling treatments, and subsequent surgeries to repair the damage caused by those treatments. Needless to say, she requires constant care, which has made it difficult for me to work consistently. We're just hanging on at this point, financially speaking, so my only viable option is to replumb the house myself.

Fortunately, most of the piping is fairly accessible in the basement ceiling, running through an HVAC chase. The fixtures are concentrated in three main areas, where I plan to run ¾ inch lines and branch off to individual fixtures. Given the tight spaces in some areas, I'm leaning towards using expansion PEX, prioritizing quality materials since I won't s be able to tackle this project again when I’m a little older.

In my research on PEX, I've come across various opinions and concerns about its reliability. Initially, I was set on using Uponor and I've stumbled upon an M12 tool with a quarter of the Uponor fittings needed for the job. So, here are my questions for you all:

What brand of pipe would you recommend and why? Because of the Uponor failures, I'm currently considering Zurn non-barrier PEX B pipe with expansion fittings, but I'm having trouble getting quotes for Zurn materials. I've been quoted Jones Stephens pipe and fittings, which I believe is PEX A. Any thoughts on these brands or recommendations for others such as Soiux Chief?

What's your take on fittings: CR polymer vs. brass? I'm inclined towards Zurn CR fittings with Zurn pipe instead of Uponor fittings. Is it okay to mix expansion fittings, or is it better to stick with the pipe manufacturer's fittings?

Do you have any opinions on expansion vs. compression fittings for long-term durability?

I'm considering using a 1” thin wall PVC pipe as a sleeve in a few tricky spots. Do you foresee any issues with running PEX through the PVC sleeve?

How careful do I need to be when pulling the pipe to avoid scuffing it?

I plan to wrap it in a black trash bag plastic in lighted areas for UV protection. Do you see any issues with this?

Are there any other issues or concerns you think I should know about?

Thanks so much for any insight and advice you can offer to help us out during this challenging time!

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 Re: Repipe material question
Author: packy (MA)

very complex answer needed here.
couple of quick points.

for UV protection you only need to paint the pex with any old latex paint.

i wouldn't recommend a homeowner use expansion method.
nothing wrong with crimp.

can't speak intelligently on piping layout but your job may be better suited for a couple of premade manifolds and use the home run method ???

as for sleeving the pex, i always used 2 inch PVC. don't mix hot and cold in the same sleeve.

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 Re: Repipe material question
Author: dollinger (GA)

Thanks for your response. I was able to obtain a Millwalkua M12 expansion tool for $200 plus a bunch of other tools and fittings. Other than the cost of the expansion tool is there a reason you would not recommend me to use expansion?

What Brand of Pex would you recommend? I cannot get Zurn here.

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! I'm a bit overwhelmed with all I'm dealing with and now this hots too.

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 Re: Repipe material question
Author: vic (CA)

Packy is very experienced and wise.

I'd only like to add that regarding the idea of using black trash bags for uv protection is that might be good for a few months however I'm not aware of any brand of black trash bags that can last in the sun without starting to break down within a few months of uv hitting it. IF you still might feel that in some areas that you need some flexible type material similar to a trash bag then I recommend using strips of 45 mil EPDM which will last many many years in the sun.

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 Re: Repipe material question
Author: packy (MA)

expanding pex requires a little experience while crimping is really easy to do and hard to get leaks.

if you have the tool then go ahead and use it.

viega pex a is the best tubing out there and available online.

uponor (wirsbo) expansion rings are also the best on the market.

same goes for uponor pro press fittings.

all are available online

as for hanging, use tube talons

use copper stub-outs with 1/4 turn stops when sticking out of a wall.

P/S.. i'm not on commission. hahaha..

good luck.

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 Re: Repipe material question
Author: sum (FL)

I am not a pro but I went through similar decisions recently regarding PEX and here are some points for consideration.

(1) regarding mixing brand A pipes with brand B fittings, pretty much every manufacturer has a warranty statement that says something like using their pipes and their fittings the warranty will be 25 years, but their pipes with another brand fittings or their fittings on another pipes the warranty period will be reduced to say ten years. This is not to say mixing brands will create inferior joints, chances are they won't, but it matters from a warranty stand point.

(2) seems there are lawsuits and pending lawsuits with pretty much all manufacturers of PEX. It's very confusing. Uponor's red/blue coated tubing's seem to be problematic but the white ones appear ok. I have also seen recent articles about bending straight PEX into 90s being bad leading to premature failures, and the opposite, straightening a coil of PEX tubing and installing them in a straight line constraining with straps also may lead to premature failures. Don't know what to believe.

(3) try to install the tubing with some slack to allow movement when pressurized. PEX tends to move and flex, especially the hot side.

(4) I went with a hybrid home run system. I have a manifold in the garage and a dedicated valve for each line. Now instead of running a line for each fixture, I ran a hot line and a cold line to each area then split off from there to each fixture. However I made sure I have a dedicated shutoff to each fixture. So even though I have a single cold line to a bathroom, I have a shutoff under the sink for the faucet cold, a shutoff at the wall for the toilet, and a ball valve after the split for the shower. That way I can shutoff any fixture's hot or cold individually if needed.

(5) as far as doing home runs, you might think this is going to be a lot of extra tubing, may be, may be not. Try to lay it out and do some calculations. You will need some 3/4", some 1/2", if you use different colored ones for hot and cold, and assuming you buy them in 100' or 50' coils, you may end up with similar costs in tubing.

Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Repipe material question
Author: bernabeu (SC)



Post Reply

 Re: Repipe material question
Author: DaveMill (CA)

Please pay attention to Packy's advice. In case you don't, then here are the golden rules of Pex for homeowners:

1. NEVER MIX ANY PEX A WITH ANY PEX B. Yes, Pex A is easier to bend and you can often get away with crimping it but you will screw up in the end. The molecular structure of Pex A wants to be expanded; Pex B wants to be crimped.
2. Homeowners are strongly encouraged to use Pex B because it is harder to screw up. Some Pex A systems require installation by factory trained plumbers to activate the warranty. Scoring a good deal on a used Pex A tool is a terrible justification for a homeowner to choose Pex A.
3. Pex B is simple to get great connections, even if you were just trained on YouTube.
4. Buy your crimps and fittings in bulk to save big bucks.

-a homeowner who trained to use Pex B on YouTube.

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