PEX Replacement of Galvanized?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by JerseyShore, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. JerseyShore

    JerseyShore New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I have a 1943 wartime two family home with most of the original galvanized in place. I am now in process of starting to slowing, gradually remove the horizontal piping in the basement and eventually getting to the risers. After a lot of research and trial and error, I think I have a plumber I can have confidence in. He wants to go with PEX instead of traditional copper due to flexibility as well as cost.

    I know that PEX is the rising star in re-piping and construction, but I have concerns about the issues concerning plastic - leaks, plastic leaching, ect. Isn't PEX like running a garden hose throughout your house?

    I would appreciate advise re PEX vs copper.

    Thanks!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    PEX is now nearly 50-years old, it's been in use in Europe for longer than here. There are literally billions of feet of the stuff run. In a repipe, it's certainly easier to use, and ease comes with saving some money - labor is not cheap! Because it bends, you can make runs with few or no fittings except at the ends or transition. Because it bends, you need to use the right stuff to transition to shutoff valves, or things that previously might have relied on the plumbing to hold them in place. Good practice calls for transitioning to copper stubouts and anchoring them well. The OD of pex is the same as its copper equivalent, but the tubing thickness is greater, so the same sized pipe can't carry as much volume (don't confuse volume with pressure). So, you may need larger pex than the pipe it replaced. There are three different manufacturing techniques with pex, labeled -A, -B, and -C. -A is often the most expensive, can be bent into the smallest bend, is the most flexible, and is the only one that can be repaired if it gets kinked...the others, -B and -C when kinked, need to have that section cut out and a fitting installed. Kinks aren't that frequent, but that depends on your technique. There are two general methods of attaching fittings - an expansion type and a compression type. On the expansion type, you slide a reinforcing band around the end of the pipe, insert a special tool, expand the whole end of the pipe, then insert the fitting. The pipe has memory, and collapses around the fitting, making the connection. The other type, you insert the fitting, then use a tool to crimp a retaining ring on. Because the fitting's OD can't be as large as the one that you expand to make it fit in the pipe, this type has a slightly smaller hole, thus slightly less volume capacity. The only one that can use the expansion fittings is (to my knowledge anyway) -A, and Uphonor (Wirsbo), one of the original manufacturers of the stuff, makes it that way (there may be others that make -A). Short answer, done right, PEX will save some money and last a very long time.
  3. JerseyShore

    JerseyShore New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Many thanks, this is a big help!
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    3,071
    Location:
    Maine
    I wouldn't put that crap in a dog house. It's plastic and plastic will fail
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    And copper never gets pinholes of fails, either?!
  6. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,071
    Location:
    Maine
    It does occasionally. Pin holes which are a whole lot less destructive than big splits, rat and rodents chewing through it, fittings rotting out and separating. Pex is plastic cheap, fast and easy crap for the masses. If you have pin hole problems you need to treat the water
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I am not a proponent of PEX either, but in an existing home, it may be far too costly to re-pipe with copper if the pipes are the wall cavities. When I did my house several years ago, I used copper but my pipes were all in the basement so no demo of wall was needed. If I read your original post correctly, your plumbing is also in the basement with risers through the floor. I would avoid the plastic and go with the copper, and if pitting is a problem in your area, treat the water.
  8. JerseyShore

    JerseyShore New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Thanks.... I am thinking of copper for the horizontals in the basement. House is an two fam, one apartment on top of another, so I was thinking of PEX for the verticals. Kitchens are next to bathrooms and share cavities. Elder care family situation doesn't permit me to take down walls. If I could demo, I would do copper throughout.
  9. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,071
    Location:
    Maine
    A decent compromise
  10. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Time marches on. As a comarison, we could say that a copper tube riser from stop valve to faucet, skillfully bent into place by a plumber, is the primo way to do that. And I would opine that less than one percent of the supply lines installed in the last 20 years are solid copper tubing. We have survived that, and we will survive PEX.
  11. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,071
    Location:
    Maine

    Copper supply tubes is all we use. Not a flexi in the stock room or on the vans
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