A few pex questions and Sharkbite brand pex questions.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by lee_leses, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. lee_leses

    lee_leses Member

    Messages:
    54
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Hello All:

    I'm dealing with a crawlspace in a NJ home. On top of it all, there has been a drain system leak for years from the 1.5" copper kitchen drain pipe at the main stack, and so there is a lot of raw sewage down there. It's nasty!

    I want to get in and get out as fast as possible! The pipes were poorly grounded, and it's well water. It was installed in the 80's I think. There is no ground strap at the hot water heater. A lot of the copper fittings are badly corroded. There is only a kitchen sink, washer, and one bathroom. I'm thinking of starting fresh, and doing the whole thing in pex. I want to put a cold water shutoff valve and the whole house filter up in the main living space. Right now to shut off the water you have to go into the crawlspace!

    I have been reading a lot, I never did pex before.

    QUESTIONS:

    I have not physically gone to Lowes yet, but online it looks like they carry Vanguard Pex. Lowes carries Sharkbite brand pex. I have not seen any comments on Sharkbite pex, I know about the Zurn issues though. I also know most people seemed to feel safest with the Vanguard pex.

    1) Has anyone used the Sharkbite pex to know if it is any good or not?

    2) The manifolds I saw at depot just had connections on them, no shutoff valves. I thought one of the pex concepts was if you homerun it everything can be shut off individually. Shouldn't each connection on the manifold have it's own shutoff valve right at the manifold. Sure you could add one right at each manifold connection, but that is more connections. It seems to me the shutoff valves should thread right into the manifolds or something?

    3) I saw a Sharkbite brand valve that you go into with pex and come out of with 3/8" faucet supply hose. What is the correct way or a good way to secure that under the sink or vanity? Do you just strap the valve to some wood or something where the valve is located?

    4) What is the correct way to connect the toilet? I guess one way is to just cut the copper in the crawspace, solder on a pex fitting, and do the transition that way. Is there a better or different way?

    5) It looks like all the needed tools to work with the Sharkbite pex is on the shelf with the rest of the Sharkbite pex fittings. The go, no go tool is there, a crimp ring cutter, and three different tools you could chose to do the crimping. There is also the cheap-o tool that you use a vise grips to compress. On sharkbite.com, I see there is a special type of handle you can buy for one of the crimpers I saw in stock at depot so you can crimp one-handed. Has anyone used these tools to be able to say which of the crimping tools by Sharkbite would be the easiest/best to use?

    6) It may be that some of these tools are for the copper rings, and some are for the stainless steel rings. Does anyone have any reason that the copper rings are better than the stainless ones? Both types are sold by Sharkbite, which I find confusing. Why have two types if only one type is needed? I get the impression that with the stainless steel rings one tool will compress various sizes of rings. although it also looks like some but not all of the copper crimper tools can also compress various sizes of rings too.

    7) Anyone have any opinions on the cancer causing thing with pex? It seems silly to me. It seems to me also that if you were going to drink the water or use it for cooking that running the water for a minute or so would flush out anything that "leached" into the water that was sitting in the pex.

    8) Do they make a compression fitting I can use in the crawlspace to convert down there from 1/2" copper to pex? Does this method work well? It's tight down there I really don't want to solder.

    9) Has anyone had issues with rodents and pex?

    Can someone straighten me out on these issues? <!>

    Lee
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  2. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

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  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I haven't, but it's probably fine, I use a PEX that the local supply house carries.

    Valved manifolds are available if you want them, try a real supply house or, on-line at http://www.pexsupply.com/

    Either a short line out of the wall or a talon is fine

    That is fine or, run PEX up to the toilet.

    I use the SSC crimps and tool. one size fits all.

    The style we choose is always the best.

    Leaching can occur with PEX underground, if you have above ground exposure to carcinogens that is high enough to worry about in your crawlspace you have more to worry about than the chemicals leaching into the PEX.

    If you don't want to solder then use a Sharkbite. Yes, compression can be used but you need a stiffener insert and plastic ferrule.

    Rodents can and will damage plastic tubing including PEX, Polybutylene, CPVC, and PVC among others. Control the rodents and run it in a maner where its exposure is limited. Learn the paths that rodents typically follow and avoid those locations.

    You may find this link useful... http://www.toolbase.org/pdf/designguides/pex_designguide.pdf
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  4. lee_leses

    lee_leses Member

    Messages:
    54
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks!

    John, in a way, I agree with you, I know these were a LOT of questions!

    Redwood, thanks so much for answering all those questions.

    I have one followup question. I wasn't sure if you were kidding, or if you were saying you always pick the best materials when you wrote "The style we choose is always the best." LOL!

    Lee
  5. lee_leses

    lee_leses Member

    Messages:
    54
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    And John, the Zurn document is VERY helpful. Thank you.
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    No I wasn't kidding...

    The best material is always the one I'm using. Now all you have to do is find a group of plumbers that agree...

    It gets a little interesting once you try to do that...

    What it all boils down to is you weigh out the factors and pick what you consider to be the best choice...
    • What does your supply house carry?
    • Is it readily available?
    • Is it acceptable to you?
    • Is it compatible to the work you mostly do?
    • Is it priced in a manner where you can profitably use it?
    • Etc. etc. etc.

    The plumber in the company a block away might have a completely different product that is best for him....
  7. lee_leses

    lee_leses Member

    Messages:
    54
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I really appreciate the input RW, and you make a LOT of sense to me!

    Can you articulate any particular reason you like the SSC over the copper rings? Are they any easier to remove than the copper rings, or both about the same?

    I can't help but think how fortunate the new plumber's are these days who are just starting out because of all the great new products and options they have to choose from compared to just a few short years ago.

    I'm still not sold on the Sharkbite quick connect fittings though, except for a short-term repair. I have a lot of questions about the "O" rings long term, although as someone else pointed out they are used in faucets and other places with no problem. But if a faucet leaks, doesn't it usually leak into the sink? LOL!
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Being a service plumber I really have no control over what brand of PEX is used in a customers home. If I was using Wirsbo with the expansion fittings I would be in trouble every time I ran into another brand...

    Using copper rings requires several different tools or at least several different crimping dies. In addition these crimpers can sometimes be difficult to get in tight spots.

    Now I do drain cleaning, and plumbing so my service truck is 10 lbs in a 5 lbs sack and by using SSC I have one tool that does it all and it fits easier into tight spots.

    As for O-Rings the are used in many places in plumbing... Flushometers, Pro-Press Fittings just to name a few...
    These would not leak into sinks and I really do not worry about it.
    However, I wouldn't ever plumb a whole house with Sharkbites... The cost kills that idea.
    I don't use a lot of them but they have saved the day more than once for me.
  9. lee_leses

    lee_leses Member

    Messages:
    54
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks very much for taking the time to spell all that out for me. So the primary thing is being able to get into tight area, which we all know is a big issue if you can't get into them! And the other issue is all the different tools for the different sizes.

    I just got back from my research mission at both Depot and Lowes. Fortunately they are only 1/2 a mile away here!

    Both Lowes and Depot have a cinch tool that will do all the copper ring sizes. Depot is Sharkbite brand, $94, and Lowes is Kobalt brand, $89. These kits also come with a go no go gauge.

    Lowes also has heavy duty crimpers that are a very large and heavy duty tool. Kobalt brand. With those you have to buy one for 1/2 and one for 3/4, and each tool is $60. I can see pros and cons to that, I would try the all in one kits first!

    Most if not all of the pex fittings look very straightforward to me. Lowes is Vanguard brand, Depot is Sharkbite brand. I noted that the Sharkbite valves for going from pex to faucet supply tubing were a lot nicer, they were 1/4 turn valves and the Vanguard's were multi-turn only.

    *********

    The big question I have right now, is the guy at the depot had a lot to say that was helpful. He said this pex is selling like crazy for the last 2-3 years, and they are getting ready to expand and update their pex stock to the latest and greatest stuff. He also said they are having a LOT of trouble in Philadelphia with rats eating through the pex. He says they can sense the water right through the tubing, and they dive right in! I am leaning towards doing copper in the walls, and switching to pex in the crawlspace. I don't see the rats and mice being as much of an issue with the pex mounted under a floor joist as I do in the walls. They would have to climb up in there and really work to get at the pex if it is in the ceiling of the crawlspace.

    Has anyone run into this rodent issue with pex to have an opinion about it, and/or doing copper in the walls and the rest in pex?

    What they should do is make some kind of braided steel jacket like they do on faucet supply lines, or something similar that the rodents can't chew as easily. Maybe only use the jackets where you need them to protect the pex.

    Thanks!

    Lee
  10. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    IF you have rodents, they will chew your PEX. They climb like monkeys, so don't make any assumptions that they can't get to it.
  11. lee_leses

    lee_leses Member

    Messages:
    54
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I agree Jimbo! They can be VERY determined.

    So what do you do about it in your situations? Of course the first thing you do is get some traps and poisons going...
  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Obviously if you have a rodent problem you need to deal with that sealing openings, setting out traps and poisons etc.

    But, If you are running PEX and do not have a rodent problem but are concerned that they can cause damage to PEX you should familiarize yourself with rodent behaviors and run the PEX in a manner that it is less likely to be in the path of their regular travels. Mice tend to follow regular paths or runways in their travels in a home and can jump up to about 12", they can also climb surfaces that are not smooth. Just knowing a few things about them and planning your installation accordingly can reduce the chances of rodent damage.

    Also you want to avoid using this type of PEX...

    [​IMG]
  13. lee_leses

    lee_leses Member

    Messages:
    54
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I love that picture!

    I don't see any droppings or other signs of rodents, at least so far.

    Is there a repellant spray I read about on here? Does anyone use that or the Ivory soap spray someone wrote about?

    I like the comment on the sprays that said, "if only all those pesky walls weren't in the way I could go back and spray everything."

    Lee
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