Bow's SuperPEX??

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by jch, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. jch

    jch New Member

    About to replumb my small (1-1/2 story) house.

    Was interested in using Wirsbo, but none of the local plumbing supply outlets stock it -- all special order. I'm in Canada so ordering Wirsbo from, say pexsupply, would be expensive shipping-wise.

    What the local suppliers have instead is "SuperPEX", made by Bow. Did a search on this forum and couldn't find anything about it. It appears to use a crimp-ring and brass fittings.

    Does anyone have any good/bad experience with Bow/SuperPEX?

    Their website is here: http://www.bow-group.com/pages/produits.aspx?LANG=EN&cat=57&pro=170

    Thanks!
    .../j
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,519
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    IT may be another case of "SuperPEX" is what we call it, NOT what it is.
  3. jch

    jch New Member

    Both big box stores in town (Orange and Blue) carry only Bow's SuperPex. This is also the only brand that my independent plumbing supplier keeps in-stock. So it's being used a *lot* in this town. My guess is that's because it's Canadian-made.

    It's also the brand/system that my plumber uses exclusively for supply piping.

    Bow has a bunch of PDFs on their website explaining its vast superiority over all other Pex piping. For instance:
    Bow SuperPex - Information
    Bow SuperPex - Multilayer advantage
    Bow SuperPex - Product update - Why it's superior
    SuperPex Installation Guide

    I'm using this to replace an old (lead-soldered) copper and PolyButylene system -- both which were popular approaches in their day. Trying to avoid a repeat.

    Are there any Canadian plumbers on this board who can share good/bad experience with Bow's SuperPex?? Appreciate any guidance. Using local suppliers would make life a lot easier, but not if it means headaches down the road....

    Thanks!
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2010
  4. benze

    benze New Member

    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I realize that my reply is probably 2 months too late, but I'll give you my own insight on the Bow Superpex. I needed to replumb my kitchen last year as my copper kept freezing in winter if it wasn't used for a few days during really cold nights (I live in Montreal). So I tore open my ceiling in the basement, and cut out the copper and rerouted the lines using SuperPEX and Bow fittings. Since my original copper was 1/2", I figured 1/2 pex would be fine as well.

    Although end result works ok, I noticed a significant drop in the flow from the faucet. Only afterwards did I actually measure the ID of the Bow 1/2" fittings and realized that they are 5/16" (almost 1/4"), and nowhere near 1/2". If I had to redo it, I would have used 3/4" instead.

    Now I've got to redo my basement completely, and taking advantage to repipe all my copper (they laid all the copper in the slab, which everyone is amazed at). I plan to run 3/4" supply, and reuse all the existing 1/2" risers to the fixtures. My problem is that after my last experience with teh SuperPEX, I realize that I need 1" PEX to get 3/4" copper equiv. Unfortunately, no big box carries 1" PEX - only plumbing supply stores. At that point, I figured instead of using 1" SuperPEX, might as well try the 3/4" Wirsbo Aquapex (I can rent a manual expander for 20$/day).

    I'm wondering what you ended up using in the end?

    Thanks,

    Eric
  5. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    The granite state
    Looks to me like Bow is just a distributor. If they are selling it at the big box stores you can pretty much bet it is the cheapest crap they can get a hold of.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,519
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Cast brass and plastic fittings will have smaller openings than copper ones. I question why the outer layer has chlorine resistance it the inner layers are actually good enough to keep the water inside them.
  7. jch

    jch New Member

    I went on vacation for a month and gave it time to stew... :)

    Still torn as to what to use. I looked at the Bow fittings too, and effectively each fitting's ID is equivalent to the next-smaller-size in copper. My house is currently *all* 1/2" copper (including the main feed) and water flow is definitely an issue when more than one tap is running so I don't want to just replace it with 1/2" PEX.

    My plumber says he always buys PEX in the straight sticks and then uses fittings (elbows, etc) as if he were running copper. Which, although it would look neater in the basement, seems like it would introduce a lot of constrictions if using the Bow/SuperPEX system.

    So I too am considering either:
    - running 1" Bow/SuperPEX as the main feed, with 3/4" Bow/SuperPEX risers (and therefore being able to buy fittings locally); or
    - ordering a whack of Wirsbo in 3/4" and 1/2" and hoping that I don't run out of fittings (they're not available anywhere here on Vancouver Island).

    Decsions, decisions....

    Advice?

    .../j
  8. benze

    benze New Member

    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Not sure yet myself. I was figuring that 3/4" AquaPEX would be a good replacement for 3/4" copper, but looking at the specs tonight (http://www.uponor.ca/~/media/Files/...ng Straight Lengths Natural.aspx?sc_lang=en), I see that 3/4" aquapex is really only 0.671" Inner Diameter. Now will that truly make a difference? I don't know....

    As for using the straight sticks instead of the coil, my plumber gave me a similar song (looks nicer), but the reality is if the coil is tacked in the right places, it should look fine as well. But for my needs, I can only buy AquaPEX in 300' coils, and I don't know if I need that much yet or not... A plumber yesterday suggested using 1" AquaPEX for the runs and 3/4" for the branches. In which case, I'm wondering if regular pex (SuperPEX) is good enough. But then again, everything I've read about Wirsbo is nothing be great reviews..... I'm just afraid fo the time for that 10-15 pumps per fitting for 1" AquaPEX....

    How bout you? Come to any decisions yet?

    Eric
  9. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    By main feed are you talking in the house or from the meter at the street? Some places in Victoria have 1/2" even on the city side from their main (Normally in older area's of town) but you may want to check this out as if this is the case, upgrading everything on your side would be pointless if its all being feed by 1/2". As far as the product go's, I have used it since it came out and have never had a problem with it.
  10. jch

    jch New Member

    Currently, I have 68-year-old 1/2" galvanized pipe running from the meter to the house, then 1/2" copper from there onwards. I'm sure the galvanized has the ID of a drinking straw now.

    Looking to replace all of that with PEX. Haven't checked upstream of the meter yet. I'm in Oak Bay....

    .../j
  11. jch

    jch New Member

    I'm going to check and see whether anybody rents the Wirsbo expander here in Victoria. Given that I can't find anyone who sells Wirsbo PEX, I suspect that finding a Wirsbo rental tool may be tough...

    Which would then add the cost of the expander to my project.
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,932
    Location:
    New England
    There are a couple of versions of the expander tool, manual, and powered. You'll improve you grip strength with the manual one!
  13. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    Yep one of the older neighborhoods I was speaking of lol. You should be able to use something like a garden shovel to expose the city side of the meter to see what it is. If its 1/2" you can request them to install a new supply but this will cost you. It may be 3/4" copper, in this case if it was my home I would install a 1" pex main to the house. Install a P.R.V and a full port stop and drain shut off valve. Then run 3/4" pex for a main feed inside to the HWT, install an expantion tank on it, and then bring it down to 1"2 for most fixtures as they really don't need more than that except for maybe a high flow shower valve.

    Wirsbo is a good product but it will be costly and regular pex will do just fine.
  14. jch

    jch New Member

    Just called around to a bunch of rental companies, and nobody here rents PEX expander tools. Instead, they only have crimpers. And only for 1/2" and 3/4"....

    Jerome, where would you recommend getting the PEX, fittings, and tools from here in Victoria? Andrew Sheret? Somewhere else??
  15. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    I normally deal with Wosley, they have crimp rings there that have a lip on them that helps to make sure you have the ring in the correct position on the fitting. They are a few cents more per ring but I like the peice of mind knowing they are all perfectly positioned.

    Just called Western Region Rentals on Jacklin rd 250-474-5744, they have 1 pair of 1" crimpers for rent. Have you checked the city side yet?
  16. fasteddie

    fasteddie New Member

    Messages:
    2
    BOW is a manufacturer of plastic pipe and fittings. They make both Flowguard CPVC & their own BowPex. They make type B pex - same as Zurn and Veiga (old Vanguard). Whirsbo/Uponor hype - you're only spending extra money.
  17. jch

    jch New Member

    I talked to my plumber again yesterday. Feeling a lot better about this....

    He recommended (as did Jerome, above) that I run 1" SuperPEX from the meter into my house, then transition to 3/4" once I tee to the water heater and cold supply risers. I'll be installing a PowerPipe drain-heat-recovery unit (which will feed the water heater, and the cold supply for the showers) so it'll be 1" up to there, and then size down afterwards. He said he'd lend me his 1" crimper. :)

    Asked him about his use of 20' PEX sticks, rather than coils, and he said that he finds that the sticks lie a lot straighter and therefore make it easier to work with. Said he's had bad experience with coils holding their curl too much (stored in a hot place?). He says that sticks can be temporarily curled up for transport and then will spring back straight afterward.

    Asked him about his use of PEX elbows and he said that he avoids them wherever he can (I know that contradicts what I wrote above) and he just sweeps the tubing around corners when possible. He says he uses omega clips when going through sill plates to prevent chafing. He told me to make sure I leave some slack to allow for expansion/contraction of the tubing.

    He also said that he transitions to copper wherever he needs a strong mechanical connection. For instance, something like this with a compression-fit shutoff valve for under sinks, toilets, etc. Ditto for hose bibs and shower controllers--he transitions to copper to give him something mechanically solid to attach to framing.

    Because our city water is at 90-100psi, he recommended installing a PRV and expansion tank. He also suggested that I consider running my hose bibs at city pressure (which would make it possible to actually spray to the top of our fruit trees). He said that I don't need to replace the existing bibs, but could screw on a vacuum breaker to them.

    How's this sounding??

    .../j
  18. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    Sounds good, except the main run from the meter to the house, I would use a coil of pex so that there are no connections underground that could fail. Then inside use the stix. Have you checked out the city side yet for size? Also I'm sure your plumber knows this but you cannot crimp pex underground, you would have to use either a compression or sharkbit coupling for any connections.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  19. jch

    jch New Member

    Oooooh, good catch. Just measured it and it's about 30' from meter to foundation wall. So continuous coil looks like the way to go...

    He said it's probably a 1/2" meter, but said he'd recommend running 1" PEX to the house no matter what size the meter is to avoid flow problems.

    I have 2 hose bibs on the house (one where the main will enter, and the other 30' away on the far side of the house near the drain-heat-recovery unit). If I wanted to run 1" PEX to both of those bibs *before* it goes through the PRV, would it be okay to have the stop&drain valve where the line enters the house and the PRV on the *far* side of the house (after it has serviced both bibs)??

    Pretty much all the water is going to go through the drain-heat-recovery unit (on the far side of the house). Trying to avoid running multiple 1" lines across the house but not sure whether the PRV should be right at the main's entry point to the house.

    Thoughts?

    .../j
  20. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    Yep that will work fine, the PRV can be wherever you need it.

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