PEX, Water service from meter to house, DIY project????

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by KBF, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. KBF

    KBF DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle Metro)
    I have to run a new water service line from my meter to my house.

    The problem is 1) it's awfully expensive to have a plumbing company do it (quotes have been around $6-7k!!), and 2) I think I can do it myself, but haven't really worked with this sort of thing before.

    I have no real plumbing experience, but have a lot of experience working on cars/motorcycles and other mechancial types of work.

    It seems like this project basically involves digging a trench, laying in some PEX pipe to run the length needed, connect one end of the PEX to the copper pipe coming from the water meter, and (here's the tricky part) connect the other end up through the foundation into the copper pipe that is right before the shut off valve for the house.

    So my questions to the experts on this forum....

    1) The bid I have specs a 1" Qline pipe...does that mean I should use a 1" PEX line? Can I get away with something smaller (since it's a good bit cheaper)

    2) It's about 140 feet from meter to where it'll go into the house - does that mean I should be aware of anything in particular (my plan is to run a single piece of PEX tubing from meter to house, so no worries about me not doing any joints wrong, just the connections at the meter and in the house)

    3) It needs to go through an unbelieveably thick foundation slab...plumber came out and ran a 20" hammer drill bit next to where the water would come into the house, and never reached dirt (they tell me they've never seen this before). Is this a job an amateur could do (either bust up that part of the slab and repour concrete, or try to hammer drill a hole through the concrete large enough and deep enough (about 2 to 2 1/2 feet below the top of the ground)? Or should I leave the last part to the professionals.

    Currently the plumber ran a garden house from the meter into an outdoor spigot so I still have water in my house (and pretty good water pressure, too!). He tells me this will work fine and for a long time (until the freezing weather comes).

    From what I've read about PEX and a few folks I've talked to, it seems like a good type of material for a water service line.

    Any opinions/advice/caution from any of you plumbing experts out there?

    Thanks
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  2. davesnothome

    davesnothome DIY Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Hmmm...Im no plumber, but I just had my water service replaced. I dont know where you live? but you mentioned freezing? If thats the case, I would think your water service is deeper than 2 feet. Mine was more like 6 feet deep. I had the pros do it..but I watched them. What they did was break up the concrete from inside the house, dug with a backhoe down to the service line...my case was galvinized. Then so as not to have to remove my front porch, they cut off the existing line and slid aircraft cable through into the house and with the old line and the cable...they used the backhoe to drag the new service into place without tearing out my front porch. In your case, you may have to dig down right at the foundation and find where it enters the house. Here is the problem....if you dig at your exterior water box, or shut off and do damage...its big trouble. Mine, in fact had a hole in the service just before the water box (City side) so they had to repair it and replace the water box, prior to my guy installing the new service. Im pretty handy like yourself...but if I had have dug that and called the City, you know for sure they would have blamed me...and Id be on the hook for the bill. Its was a bigger job than what I first thought....as I was thinking of doing mine as well....glad I paid to get it done!!! Maybe you can do your own trenching after you have the water shut off and save yourself some money on that...but I would definately have a plumber do the connections, permits and locates...cause your messing with all sorts of possibilities of problems. Material wise what you use...Im not sure, but Im sure a plumber here will advise you on that.
  3. KBF

    KBF DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle Metro)
    I live in the Seattle area, and the code here is actually only 24" below ground - it rarely freezes here and never for too long.

    Where I'll be going into the slab is the first time a water line will be there (no previous connection from that point, but it's right next to where the old water main tapped into the house (right next to the shut off valve).

    The plumbers that came out suggested going from meter to this spot as the simplest method and gave me a bid based on that - I assume since they knew I'd be getting competitive bids, they would want to provide me with the best solution at a competitive price.
  4. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    If its 140' you need to run at least 1" Pex.
  5. KBF

    KBF DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle Metro)
    Peter - thanks for your input.

    I just came back from the plumming supply store, and they recommended I use "Polypipe" instead of PEX. I don't know what Polypipe is - do you (or any of the other plumbing experts out there) know what that is and why they might have recommended that over PEX?
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I suggest 160 psi rated PE (polyethylene) pipe. It is IPS (iron pipe size) meaning it has a larger ID than CTS (copper tuning size) which PEX is. It is a better choice than PEX and less expensive.

    You should be able to buy it at a plumbing or pump supply house or a big box store; or order it online. You should buy a 200' roll so you don't have to use a coupler; it usually comes in 100' rolls for the shorter lengths.

    Your slab may have a much thicker edge than the floor thickness. It's call a floating something I don't recall, and used rather than a block or cement 'foundation'.
  7. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I'm no plumber either, but I have watched several of these being done and messed with enough stuff to make me confidet I could do my own, so take this for what it is worth.

    Use 1" Polypipe. It's easy to find, as they should sell it at the bigbox stores, plumbing supply stores and sprinkler supply stores. It's also fairly inexpensive, about $.50-$1.00 per foot

    Double clamp the fittings. If possible use the pinch style clamps, if you don't have a tool for that, use the screw type clamp. Not sure of the correct names of these.

    As for your problem getting through your foundation....do you per chance have a stem wall? My old house had one and the plumbers had a hell of a time getting through it! I think they finally drilled from inside and then used water through a pipe to force a channel to get the pipe outside. Can you possible dig down to see how deep this slab goes. Maybe you can go deeper and miss it. Or enter at a different area of the house. Just a few thoughts.

    Good luck!!
  8. KBF

    KBF DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle Metro)
    So now I'm kind of confused.

    Is PE the same thing as Polypipe? Is polypipe a brand of PE type pipe?

    I do know what I'd like is something flexible and can get a length of about 150 feet so I don't have any joints/connections except at the meter and in the house.
  9. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Poly pipe is PE pipe. It is black in color. comes in rolls. Is pretty rugged stuff. Many cities around here are using it for the laterals to the house now. It is a whole lot less expensive than pex. Requires no special tools to install. Lord forgive me here, you can get it at home depot or lowes. (that just about killed me :( )
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,519
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    pipe

    Your description of the job is so simplistic, that I wonder WHY the quotes were for $6,000.00. There is something about that job that you are not telling us, since it should not cost anywhere near that amount to do what you have described, especially if it is only 24" deep. I have done 100' lines that deep using 1" copper for less than $1,500.00, although our lines do not go into the buildings.
  11. KBF

    KBF DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle Metro)
    They didn't itemize the bid, but I suspect that the high cost is due to:

    1) having to break a hole through the concrete foundation to connect inside, then make the connection and repour the concrete. It's in a really tight and awkward space, so may be more time consuming. And their labor rate comes to about $200/hr (based on their time and materials rates). This part alone will probably take about 1/2 of the time for the install, I'd guess.

    2) using a trenchless boring machine (I expect I'm paying a premium for that versus using a ditch witch)

    3) they spec Qline which looks like pretty expensive stuff - top end sort of product from what I can tell.

    And I also expect it's the kind of company that charges in the upper end - I checked them out on angie's list before calling, and all the reports all pretty much said they do great work but aren't cheap.

    But this is pure guessing on my part.

    At this point I'm even thinking I'll do the trench, buy the pipe, lay it in the trench, but have those guys or some other plumbers come out to connect the 2 ends - I'm not too concerned about connected the meter end, but since connecting to the house is a lot more involved by busting up the foundation, I think it has the potential for things going wrong. So it might make sense to see if I can get a professional to do that one part.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2009
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

  13. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Any reason you can't rent a hammer drill from the depot and drill through the foundation? should only take about 15 minutes.
  14. KBF

    KBF DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle Metro)
    I've been thinking about that. I'll have to see if they have a bit that will accommodate a 1" line with a protective sleeve (maybe something like 1 1/8th or 1 1/4 ?).

    I suppose I could dig outside to the right depth, drill a small hole to determine where it should come into the house (right by the current shut off valve), then drill a deep hole (I'm guessing 24" down whether it's all concrete or end up in the dirt). That's a pretty big bit, but the plumbers had something very similar.

    SEEMS simple. :)

    I suppose worst case, it doesn't work out for me, and I pay the plumber to finish the job.

    Is there a special way to connect PE to copper? Do I need any soldering equipment or just tools?
  15. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    the HD's around here have as big as 6" in a core bit.
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,519
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    hole

    Call a concrete boring/cutting company to drill the hole. If you rent the core drill and damage it, which you probably will, it will cost more than the company would have charged. And why go "trenchless" for just 24" down? That only makes sense when the line has to be at least 48" or more, OR there is a grove of trees in the way.
  17. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    PE is usually IPS so the hole is 1" and the OD is whatever but 1" will be more like 1.5" OD.

    No special way and you don't have to solder. PE uses (barbed) insert x insert of various sizes and material or male or female threaded adapter fittings. So you'll use threaded x whatever threaded copper fitting you need. Or if you have 3/4" copper, a brass or QEST compression male or female adapter fitting works well.

    Insert fittings won't go in easy, so you heat the out and in side of the PE evenly with hot water, sunshine or a torch to like room temp or a bit warmer the length of the barb and force the fitting in; a rubber mallet or a hammer works nice. Let it cool and then use SS hose clamps. Underground you want two clamps and SS or brass, no galvanized fittings. Each hose clamp facing the opposite direction and the screw 180* apart from each other if possible (that's one on each side of the pipe) and tightened properly. If you buy an extended barbed fitting, three clamps. Proper tightening meaning not overtightened. I had a Tee handled torque wrench that most plumbing or pump supply houses selling the pipe have that is made just for the clamps. An auto parts store may have them too. It's 14 inch lbs IIRC. The primary cause of failure (leaks) is over tightening the clamps, overheating the pipe which damages it severely or, not cooling the PE before clamping.
  18. KBF

    KBF DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle Metro)
    I've measured the OD of the copper pipe on both ends of the meter/house line.

    The meter side pipe is .88 OD, so the reference table tells me that's 3/4 CTS. And the inside copper pipe is 1.13 OD, so that's 1" CTS, correct?

    Is it unusual to have a smaller line coming from the meter than the one in the house (right before the shutoff valve)?

    So if the 1" PE has an OD of 1.5", then I'll probably need to have a hole bored around 1.75, or should I go for 2"? (will need to have some sort of sleeve over the PE where it goes through the concrete, to meet my town's code, so assume that'll take up at least 1/4 inch more?).
  19. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    A 2" hole would be just fine.
  20. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You should find the pipe (the higher the rating the larger the OD and don't use less than 160 psi) and the conduit you are going to use and measure the OD of each, and then leave maybe a 1/2" clearance for the pipe through the conduit. Yes I believe you have 1" copper.
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