Pex And Freezing Winter Temperatures

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Master Plumber Mark, Feb 6, 2007.

  1. Everyone has been soo keen on all the pex pipe
    systems for years and years now.......

    the damn stuff just works wonderful dont it???

    The best thing to come along since sliced bread!!

    but their is a funny thing about all thaqt plastic PEX.....

    when it gets as cold as hell out there like about -10

    with the wind blowing at 25 mph ----

    it ALL FREEZES UP.....just like that shitty copper stuff.

    the copper pipes I can thaw out with a electiical pipe thawer,
    and perhaps get the people out of troubles

    but the PEX cant be thawed out that way!!!!

    Its pretty hard and nearly impossible to carry a
    250 lb salamander full of kerosine down a flight
    of stairs with the hopes of heating a cellar area
    hot enough to thaw out WIRSBO PEX pipe...

    plus all the other situatioins that simply cannot be
    heated properly....

    it has not been this cold in INDY since 1989
    and I am pretty sure about half of this city
    will be calling me before the weekend.....

    When they call the first thing I ask them is

    do you have copper or plastic pipes......

    if they have plastic,
    I tell them that I cant help them
    and maybe their water will
    come back on sometime next week
    when it gets above 30

    we have some very, very expensive homes built in
    this area over that last 15 years
    that used all of the fun pex stuff and they
    simply CANNOT be thawed out

    so what else can a plumber do???
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Now that copper prices are dropping tell them you can rip out all that plastic and put in copper :D .

    The homes should be plumbed in a way that the pipes shouldn't freeze to begin with.
  3. Racer814

    Racer814 New Member

    I live in SE North Carolina...not that big a problem here but I do have to work underneath a piling house on the beachfront this morning:eek:

    actually never had to try to thaw out pipes for a customer, I feel for you guys dealing with all that bitter cold
  4. What shoule be and wat is.....

    A builder should insualte the homes he builds much better.....

    A homeowner should have enough common sense
    NOT to leave the garage door open all night long......

    I called a lady a moron yesterday when she asked me if
    that might have frozen up her water softener and water heater...
    leaveing the door open all night long....LOL

    A homeowner should have the common sense to close the
    vents on the outside of his crawl space home and pack them with
    towells or insualtion to keep this bitter
    weather from attacking his pipies....

    A home owner should have the common sense to see if the
    crawl space door is closed up good and tight....

    A home owner should have the sense to leave the faucets
    dripping throughout his home too......

    NOT all of the above....

    they are not going to peek out of their caves and inspect
    their homes in this weather,

    but they DO seem to know how to hand me their master card.......

    when I charge them the min of $250
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    As someone once said, "Common sense is not very common".
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    I do not own an electric thawing machine but found this on a site that sells them. I wonder how many plumbers follow these directions.

    The ************ requires either a 15 amp 115 volt AC outlet when on the "Low" setting, and a 20 amp outlet when on the "High" setting.
    Be sure the unit is plugged into a properly grounded receptacle. If in doubt, check receptacle before plugging in unit.
    If the power cord supplied with the unit is not long enough, be sure to use a grounded heavy duty extension cord that is in good condition. Using lighter cords can result in severe power loss and overheating.
    There is a possibility that the output current of the unit may be transferred into the electrical service, either at the house being thawed, or at a remote location. Therefore, all grounds (i.e. electric service, telephone, and cable TV grounds) must be disconnected, both at the house being thawed and all houses on the same distribution transformer.
    Do not leave unit unattended while thawing. Do not leave unit operating overnight.
  7. JohnD

    JohnD New Member

    New York
    HJ how true, that is hilarious.

    Mark I'm located 70 miles west of you. This last week I sold out of every type of pipe heating material that I had in stock. Then last Sun. after all was gone I had a guy come in and give me heck because I was out, and he had driven 52 miles. I just looked at him and told him he should have called 1st.

    Another guy called me wanting an water heater element, I asked what wattage he had, he said 208 - 240, I told him that was the voltage, not the wattage. I explained to him what the difference was, he called me a dumb ass and hung up. Unfortunately he didn't give me a chance to tell him I could replace my heater element and who's the dumb ass now!!:D
  8. directions are for wimps.....


    There is a possibility that the output current of the unit may be transferred into the electrical service, either at the house being thawed, or at a remote location. Therefore, all grounds (i.e. electric service, telephone, and cable TV grounds) must be disconnected, both at the house being thawed and all houses on the same distribution transformer.

    I have a hot shot pipe thawer and used it 4 times today

    to the tune of 250 per job.....

    they do sort of scare me when the pipes spark, smoke and crackle a little.....

    and after about 5 minutes you almost cant hold onto the
    copper cables cause they start to over heat....

    thats when you know its time to turn off the machine....

    but I have not burnt one down yet.....LOL
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
  9. OldPete

    OldPete DIY Senior Member

    Ok. We get it. You don't like PEX.

    Hey, how'dya feel about indoor plumbing. Crazy idea ain't it? And that motorized wagon.

    Well that's just plain silly. It could run a person over or something.

  10. try thawing them for yourself

    well ,Pete old buddy.... if you would like to impart your wisdom

    to me on how to thaw out pex pipe inside enclosed

    cold frozen chases

    and under tight crawl frozen in-accessable spaces....

    I am all ears for some great advice....
  11. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Sometimes when you don't have a good connection with the clamps the cables get hot.

    Pete, just try thawing plastic pipes. Builders don't do a good job with insulation, especially with multi level houses. Some subdivisions build that into the houses and it's just carelessness. So when the wind blows from the right direction, plumbers go like crazy thawing pipes.
  12. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter


    That happens when you are heating too much pipe, have a poor connection to the pipe or have bad cable-to-clamp connections. I find that the thermal overload in the machine gives out long before the cables get too hot.

    I'm not afraid of drywall in some of these overfinished basements. A return air grille or two can do wonders to keep the pipes from freezing.

    Pete: don't be an @ss.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
  13. Cpvc

    made me $450 today.

    Split longways from joint to joint, cold water line feeding the toilet over a garage.

    It broke because the insulation was installed backwards with the kraft-faced side opposite of the living space, along with a few gaps.

    Of course, I replaced with copper as I won't even consider a glue connection in 3 degree weather.

    Today was the first time I used a sharkbite, 1/2" straight coupling to transition from CPVC to copper. I didn't want to use a compression joint as it is not legal but anyone want to tell me if that sharkbite was even legal?

    It's getting covered up, I'm feeling bad about it.

    MPM read my follow-up on the delta dilemma thread.
  14. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    The Sharkbite spec sheet says they are legal to bury behind the wall - has all of the approvals. Watts has a coupling, similar in concept, but the execution is all plastics, and it is made in China. I passed on those.

    I checked on big local distributor around here (S-NH) for them - they had heard of them, but didn't carry them. Other than on-line, where do you suggest I look for these?
  15. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter


    None are approved by code, as of yet. They may be installed as a 'alternate material' if approved by your AHJ.

    We have a couple guys at work, service plumbers. One is lazy, and it's a stretch to call him a plumber; the other is a master who wants to make it cheaper on the customer (yet never has enough money cause he never gets enough hours). Both have been bit by the shark.

    The lazy one replaced a tub/shower faucet with nothing but sharkbites- 10 of them! 4) 1/2" male adpts, 3) coups and 3) 90's. The customer complained that their new tub diverter was loose, and would spin to any direction. Took another plumber 3 hours more to remedy the issue, removing all the sharkbites. Cost to customer, the original $450 plus being pissed off; cost to company~$650+ and loss of face.

    The master uses them a bit more prudently, but likes to brag that he can replace a wh without a torch.

    Just another tool for the lazy and mis-informed. Takes the skill out of the job, IMO. We'll just see how they hold up for the next 5,10,15,20,30,50 years. My guess--they won't.

    Can't wait for Pete to chime back in....
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    I don't claim to know all of the applicable codes or specs. This is from their spec sheet:

    The ​
    SharkBite Push-Fit® fittings have been design certified to IGC 188.The SharkBite Push-Fit® fittings are
    listed by
    IAPMO and are certified for potable and hydronic heating water distribution (note: Glycol mixture for
    hydronics should not exceed 50% concentration).The
    SharkBite Push-Fit® fittings have been certified for
    underground applications and as a manufactured joint without access panels and they meet
    UPC, IPC and

    cUPC requirements.The SharkBite Push-Fit® fittings are design certified ANSI/NSF Standard 61.
  17. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    They're in a grey area until the next codes come out---happens all the time with new stuff.
  18. What's amazing was the fact that the connection swivels so easily but doesn't leak.

    Like I stated, it was an emergency situation, no way in hell was a glue joint going to hold in this scenario whatsoever.

    Naturally if this was all copper I would of never even thought of using one.

    I paid out the nose for them at Ace Hardware. Supply houses in your area will have better pricing jadnashua.

    I'm from the old school of plumbers line of thinking even though I'm 37; I believe that simplicity (sharkbites) take away from the true profession and it seems that when something is too easy, it has drawbacks.
  19. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    I'm 33 and they look at me like I'm some kind of nazi, lol.
  20. shark bites are a god-send

    I used them today.. they work great

    and in these parts they are ok to install undergournd...

    I dont see what the difference is anyway....

    you can "half ass" throw in

    crimp type pex fittings all day long

    in million dollar homes and hope that they hold up

    for a few years and then let someone else worry about it

    "down the road "

    I have used them quite a bit and they work just fine..

    they are jsut as sturdy as any plastic wirsbo fitting I have seen

    and look much more professional than any crappy Kitech job .

    So now we can all sit back and see if the shark bite fittings gives out

    before the chlorine in the water starts to break apart the pex

    fittings and pipe...

    so my opinion is

    if it is good for the goose , then its good for the gander...... .
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