Plastic tubing for an ice maker water line???

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by plumbingchallenged, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. plumbingchallenged

    plumbingchallenged New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    Hello all, new to the forums here. My wife and I just bought our 1st home, and one of the things I've noticed since moving in, is that the water line for the ice maker in the fridge is made of 1/4 inch plastic tubing. Is this normal? Everything I've ever seen before for these is 1/4 inch copper tubing, was this done improperly? Or is plastic tubing a viable alternative to copper? The line is ran from my water line at the kitchen sink through my cabinets to the fridge, so perhaps it was for flexibility?? :confused:

    Any help that you could provide me, would be GREATLY appreciated...
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    As long as it is the milky white polyethylene, and not clear vinyl, it is OK as far as water quality. In fact, if the water is RO filtered, you must use plastic and not copper. Now, I am not usually comfortable with all that plastic tube running through the cabinets. Too easily damaged. Also, the fittings are prone to breakage/leakage if not done well.
  3. plumbingchallenged

    plumbingchallenged New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    yes it is the milky white kind, but the reason I even posed this question was that last night it actually got a pin hole in it somehow, and started spraying water everywhere. So I just cut out the bad section of tubing and put in a small 1/4 inch compression fitting, as a quick fix. I just wanted to make sure that this wouldnt be a recurring problem because the hose wasnt meant to withstand the water pressure orsomething? I'm hoping cutting out the hose and putting the compression fitting in to reconnect was the right thing to do as well......

    BTW, what is "RO filtered"?
  4. PEW

    PEW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    487
    Reverse Osmosis

    Personally, I have always junked the plastic and use copper. And, I never use the saddle valves they provide, install a normal valve appropriate to the pipe. Just a hang up of mine.

    jimbo's advice would carbon copy mine.

    Paul
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,043
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ro filtered

    RO and filtered are two different things. Filtered water is raw water that has some larger particals removed by going through a filter media. RO water is pure water that is produced by passing water through a reverse osmosis membrane and removing almost every impurity and leaving just pure water. Since it is pure water it has an affinity for metal pipes and would eat away at a copper tubing supply line.
  6. plumbingchallenged

    plumbingchallenged New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    thanks for all your help everyone. I may eventually have someone come out and run a copper line, but for the mean time the compression fitting seems to have fixed the issue. (I come from a family of electricians so plumbing baffles me ;) ) Now I just need to fix the shutoff valve to it on the water line under the sink, which doesnt work. Ah, home ownership.... :D
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    Is the shutoff under the sink look like a clamp around the pipe with a rod for a handle? If so, you should really replace it with a real shutoff valve. Those self-piercing strap on valves are not really designed to shut off. That handle connects to a sharp point that pierces the pipe to make a connection. The clamp keeps the hole it made from leaking (sometimes!). It usually doesn't do a great job of shutting off the water, though.
  8. plumbingchallenged

    plumbingchallenged New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    it does have sort of rod for a handle so I'm assuming its some kind of clamp. The device to shut it off is similar to small version of the handle you would use to tighten a bench vice. It doesnt have a lever like my main shutoff or even a knob.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    It sounds like it is a self-piercing tap. The part that screws in isn't really meant as a shut-off valve. It has a sharp point on it that when installed the first time and screwed down, actually pierced the water pipe. There are rubber gaskets under the clamp that (usually) keep it from leaking. When you back it out, it lets water out to the fitting to your tubing. It doesn't always seal it back up well when you screw it back in. They are a sloppy way to install a water tap for things like filters and refrigerators...they can and usually do eventually leak. They never work really well as a shut-off, either. Best thing is put a tee in there and a real shutoff.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The water treatment industry has been using self piercing saddle valves for decades. I've installed many myself, and none have leaked or not shut off as they are designed to do when closed. Take one apart and see.

    RO does not provide what my industry is allowed to call "pure" water. RO does not remove 100% of anything. So it doesn't provide pure water and that includes the removal of bacteria; RO doesn't remove bacteria and is not approved for such use. RO water (DO content) does eat copper and requires plastic tubing. All plastic tubing has a pressure rating sufficient for household/residential use. And if water quality matters, you can't beat plastic; no metal comes close to its qualities.

    As to the brass compression coupler, get a plastic one from most places that sell water filters or a water treament dealer; all you need to know is the OD of the tubing you have so take a piece with you, it will barely fit the hole in the proper size nut on the fitting.

    Gary
    Qualtiy Water Associates
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