Another Way Copper Is Superior To PEX

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by wjcandee, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    1,899
    Location:
    New York, NY
    It's cold enough here in NY that for the first time in memory a cold water pipe froze that runs through the unheated garage to the apartment above. The apartment has its own little hot water heater, so only cold comes over from the main house. The copper pipe runs in a chase next to hydronic heating lines, which have always kept the chase warm enough that the cold water pipe didn't freeze. The combination of the wind and the sustained low temperature apparently overcame that, and the pipe froze. Fortunately, I caught the problem before the clog could expand enough to split the pipe, and the problem was resolved in ten minutes with a low-voltage, high-current electric pipe unfreezer (operated expertly by our friends at Maccarone Plumbing, who earned freakin' $400 for their effort, but, hey, they came over in less than 30 minutes and saved me from having to replace a section of pipe, so it's worth it, right?). (And the expense reminds me that I need to silence the little voice that says, "You're being paranoid and wasting water," when I want to run the faucet up there at more than a little drip.)

    Anyway, the ice-clog was easily found and fixed with the electic pipe-warmer with minimal destruction to the chase (just enough to get the battery-charger-like clamp in there), which couldn't happen if the line was PEX. Because PEX doesn't conduct electricity. Just a thought for those in colder climes...
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    15,136
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    That is an advantage.
    Pex will resist bursting better, but you have to wait until things warm up before it's any use to you.

    Below is a burst pipe in the garage.
    All that ice because of a pipe leak.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  3. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    A run of pex, without fittings, would likely survive, but fittings would likely not, if it freezes completely. The pex will expand more than the volume change of water to ice. So, it all depends on the timing of when you notice. Best to try to keep the wind out, with these wind chills, things that typically never froze, are freezing these days. Wind chill here is expected to be about -15F tonight.
  5. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Location:
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    I lived up Jim's way for a few years. Stuff that would paralyze Long Islanders (not to mention any points south), like immense overnight volumes of snow, was dealt with as if it were nothing. I remember gigantic snow-blower-type things running up the sides of streets to clear out plowed snow which was in such big mounds that no more snow could be plowed into it. They would cart the stuff off in dump trucks and unload it on a big lot, where it would melt over the course of multiple days as the weather got warmer. I imagine that things up there are designed and built just a bit better as far as cold-resistance is concerned than things are here (smarter placement, better insulation, etc.). My outdoor thermometer on the Island tonight says 7 degrees F. Wow. The much-ballyhood "blizzard" of a couple of weeks ago wasn't as dramatic as expected, but the last few days have actually been much worse as far as wind and precipitation -- and we got very little notice that it would be this bad.

    I credit the fact that I learned to drive in New Hampshire for the fact that I have never had an issue driving on slippery surfaces -- partly because I learned how to handle them and partly because I learned to respect them.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
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