PEX Retorfit Questions and a new water heater in the works

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New Member
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Southwest Washington
The PEX questions are born from a pending water heater replacement. The house is 1955, 3 bedroom 1 bath construction with galvanized pipes. The American, Bedford model electric water heater was here when we moved here in 1985. No leaks or problems so far but at this age I'd rather replace it before it becomes an issue and there are tax credits to consider.

PEX questions.
1) Is there a preferred connection system? If I had to guess it would be the Uponor Wirsbo Epander system with my reasoning being in part that fittings are going to reduce flow rates and I’m betting the expanded tube fittings have less restriction and I've read there are no instances of field failures with that system.

2)The house is set up with the incoming cold water, one outside faucet and the bath room on the East side, the hot water heater, Laundry and Kitchen on the West side.

I was thinking about running 1" PEX to replace the existing galvanized cold water line and tap off it with a T to a small cold water manifold at that end of the house. Though I’ve done a lot of reading I’m not clear on best way to connect PEX to existing plumbing or fixtures. Are all the PEX fittings rigid requiring flex lines to go between the PEX and the fixture or do they make PEX connections with nuts that spin directly to the fixture.

3) The galvanized water line comes into crawl space to a shut off valve and then feeds the house. I'd like to replace the shut off valve with a new one assuming I can get it off the existing pipe. I will spray with penetrating oil and let set before trying Are there PEX fittings that would allow me to directly connect to a traditional shut off valve, at this time it will still be galavanized from the water meter to the valve. Are there fittings that allow PEX to be connected to a cut off pipe with out threads? Once I cut the pipe to patch in the PEX I'm committed. There is good work room in the crawl space so no problem there.

Water Heater
For the water heater I'm considering a couple of options. I'm converting from electric to natural gas and could go with a traditional style, I’ve looked at several like the G.E. with 2" foam insulation for Energy Star compliance but those don't get me qualified for the current tax rebates.

This next week I'm getting bids on installs, including an Eternal Hybrid. If going to a "tankless" the hybrid seems like a better choice to eliminate or at least reduce the hot / cold water sandwich effect and the short cycling. Pay back wise I'm not changing a good water heater to get efficiency, I'm changing an old water heater and evaluating the choices. If I had the GE installed I'm betting close to a $1000 as a gas line will need to be run, I'll have to buy a water heater stand and drip pan and plumbing will have to be changed as the current water heater is not on a stand. I don't have the quotes yet but for the sake of argument call the Eternal installed $3,000. The Eternal qualifies for the 30% tax credit so a net cost of $2100 or a little less if any state rebate money is still left. Assume a difference of approx. $1100 and If the Eternal saves $100 a year over a conventional natural gas water heater the payback is 11 years. Not great and there are a lot of assumptions but it still pans out as being reasonable to consider. I’ll know more after the bids.

The install esitmates are just for the water heater and gas connection. The PEX retrofit I plan on doing mysef over time.

Thanks for any thoughts on this. I learned long ago no matter how much reading you do there is no substitute for the practical experience of knowledgeable people.
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Master Plumber
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Cave Creek, Arizona
. The new FVIR heaters also do not need to be on a stand unless it is in a garage where cars could run into it. I really question whether you would actually save that much money with that heater. It costs about the same to heat the water you use, regardless of the tank type, and I do not think you will spend $100.00 to compensate for standby losses.
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