Repipe Questions - replacing galvanized

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by JohnE316, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. JohnE316

    JohnE316 New Member

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    Illinois
    Have a few questions. The house was built around 1957 for reference. I am a new owner of this home. It is showing symptoms of needing a repipe. The showers have low hot water pressure. It is a ranch style home with basement. It appears the pipes run above the basement drop ceiling from one end of the house (where water comes in from the street) which is near the kitchen. The water heater is located in the middle. On the other end of the house there are 3 bathrooms (1 basement level, 2 baths above on the main level). There are also some extras (external water faucets and fridge line). My thinking is that this shouldn't be too hard to do DIY. Am I crazy?

    One is should I use Pex or Copper? Have worked with copper before, not pex. I have looked at some pex installs where they use a manifold and then run direct lines from each appliance to the manifold. In my case for the bathrooms, it looks like in their model I would run 6 cold and 6 hot doing it this way. Am curious what advantage there is using a manifold. Wouldn't it make better sense to run 2 3/4 inch pex lines to the bathrooms (which are above and below and adjacent to each other) and then trunk off of these 2 lines?

    The pipe coming into the house is galvanized. Is there any reason to dig up front yard and replace this as well?

    How difficult is it to remove the existing galvanized pipe? Sawzall cuts it quickly? Or does it require wrenching?

    Finally, is it best to maybe shutoff parts of the system and replace sections at a time?

    thanks for any advice. -John
     
  2. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

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    here are a few opinions not in order. 60 year old gal. pipe is old and I wouldnt discourage someone from putting new. My preferance is get rid of all Gal pipe. whether you do it all at once or not doesent matt
    er I would break it in 2 phases or more outside service is a phase and inside home is another phase
    Pex or copper Im a copper guy Ive done some pex work on radiant heat for about 5 monthes daily.
    Copper Ive done it 33 years or so My preferanceis copper. Its not perfect but Its real good.
    Pex is good too my home has pex its 17 years old never a problem. Rats sometimes like to knaw holes in it.
    If you put pex with manifolds and access to manifolds youll have few places for leaks. thats a real good thing. If you decide pex there are expander type joints and clamp , or crimp. ive only used expander and seems the favorite but not 100 percent on that.
    Old pipe cut it out w sawsall minimal wrenching. Scope of work a little rough to do by yourself with a family living there . you could leave one bathroom or section and work on the rest there isnt really a formula as each house is differant. I like to just tear in and shut it down and go for it . Dont know if you can work weekends or everyday Usualy you will still have a little bit of copper work at water heater etc..
    I think its doable but is a big job you would have a lot of hours into it but would know every part of your system and be able to fix any water pipe issue from here on. Plus save a few thousand dollars
     
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  4. JohnE316

    JohnE316 New Member

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    Thanks. I am familiar with copper. The only difficult copper work would involve soldering in some tight areas. I hate to say it, but the Pex kind of reminds me of running a very reliable garden hose in your house. The distance between water heater and bathrooms is probably 25 feet (plus a 15 feet offset to line it up, so about 40-50 feet). With copper, I would need to strategically cut the pipe to make it easier to solder (before ductwork for example). The Pex, it looks like you could use a 90 degree "bend support".

    Pex looks a little sloppy to me as things are not nice and straight. I'm in Illinois (which finally allows Pex) but will double check local village code to make sure Pex is okay.

    Do the "re-piping" companies replace all the shower/faucet/sink fittings or do they replace them? I haven't mapped all the pipes yet, but it looks like 2 of the baths would only require 2 sections of drywall cutout to access the shower and sink appliances. The other bath I think would require me to open up the tile. In sections like this, is it acceptable to use sharkbite (or equivalent) to convert the pex or copper to galvanized? I do plan on remodeling that particular bath at a future date as it has very dated tile color.

    Is the re-pipe something that could be done over a weekend? I think the Pex runs (in the basement) would be pretty straightforward. Wondering if I do all the basement work and hot / cold run to the baths could be done in 8 hours. Is there a pex ball valve that I could pair to the galvanized nearest the bathroom hot/cold pipes before they branch off to each bathroom? I would assume the new pex done this way should increase the water flow significantly and buy me time to replace the remaining galvanized pipe when I remodel the baths.

    Does it make sense to install a manifold for the 3 baths near my proposed ball valve? Or is a manifold overkill? The installs I've seen usually place the manifold somewhere very close to the hot water outlet from the water heater.

    Again - my plan here could also be done in copper which for me would not be too daunting, I would use the existing galvanized pipe paths and holes as the path for the copper. The basement areas are 85% drop ceiling.

    How many seconds does it take to cut thru a 1 inch galvanized pipe using a sawzall with a fresh blade?
     
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    YOu can probably use a threaded Sharkbite to galvanized and push the pex in the other end, but I'd replace any and all galvanized when I was tearing things apart.

    If you're going to use a manifold, the advantage is that you can more easily do maintenance later since it's easy to shut a single run off from there.

    You'd want to replace the shower valve while doing this if they are original to 1957 as they would not meet current anti-scald requirements. You don't have to, but it would be good thing to do.
     
  6. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

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    Go for it all copper as you wish. agree the pex looks sloppy. and do sections as time permits that makes sence . my estimate cut 1 inch with saws all good blade 30 to 90 seconds. Jadnashua got good points /ideas
     
  7. Helper Dave

    Helper Dave In the Trades

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    I don't like the look of the home run manifolds, but they do have a couple upsides. You can minimize fittings in most of the runs. Especially if you go with Pex A pipe, and expansion tools/fittings, as Pex A is more flexible. You can still keep things neat and tidy with fittings near the manifold if you want, and just let the pipe snake around in the ceiling where it won't be seen.

    It can be convenient having shutoffs all in one place for maintenance, too.
     
  8. JohnE316

    JohnE316 New Member

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    Illinois
    Thanks. I'm going to map out the pipes this weekend to estimate the amount of work. I think I will do copper unless access is really difficult and tight above the drop ceiling and up thru the floor.

    Am curious why they use manifolds for pex. This same technique could be used for copper as well.

    While browsing pex fittings and manufacturers I did see an intriguing technology from one of the biggest pex 'a' manufacturers - where they were using crimp type fittings for copper as well as pex. Not that soft soldering is that difficult, but speed of install would probably be much higher in some cases.
     
  9. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

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    For copper there is press fittings? propress is a trade name. Tools are expensive (rentable?) . Ive done a lot of propress has a few disadvantages expensive fittings , when some thing needs to be changed or there is a leak you wind up with couplings in the line and more expence. but it is fast. if there is water in line its not a problem like soldering can be. Companys like it because even the dumbest green horn can use it.
     
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    You could use a manifold with copper...the manifolds would tend to be more expensive than most of them for pex, but the thought is the same. The key is to get the main line to the manifold sized properly for the expected demand
     
  11. TheOverThinker

    TheOverThinker Member

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    You have a choice between type L or type M copper, with the L thicker and potentially lasting longer....
     
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  12. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

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  13. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Type K is thicker still, and its the better choice. I don't know if L would be acceptable.

    I know they often use thinner copper in California.

    Edit: Found in
    PART 890
    ILLINOIS PLUMBING CODE

    " Type K or L copper may be installed underground."

    I think it used to be just K.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
  14. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered In the Trades

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    Did a new house in K copper several years ago. I could go on and on, but the stuff is hard to cut, hard to fit and hard to find. Not a good option in my book.
     
  15. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Easy enough to find in soft, which would be good for a service pipe.
     
  16. crazyitalian

    crazyitalian New Member

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    Jul 23, 2020
    Location:
    Illinois
    I’m going to piggy back off of this thread, because I have a very similar question.

    First time home owner, we knew we had some galvanized supply lines in the home before we purchased it. In my case, the line coming into the house is copper, but the runs in the basement drop ceiling soffit are galvanized. All fixtures except a powder room have copper run to them, but feed off the galvanized runs.

    We’ve received 3-4 estimates on how to proceed. Local plumbers recommend we use type L copper and it will take 2-3 days at time and materials. They won’t give me a firm $ estimate and also won’t patch the walls.

    A big box repipe company quoted me $11K to repipe the entire home with Upinor PEX Type A. Less connections to the existing copper. They said 2 days time and they will patch the walls. Comes with a pretty good warranty, but $$$ is a lot to swallow.

    A smaller, local repipe company quoted $7K to repipe the galvanized lines with type L copper or $6K to repipe with Upinor PEX Type A. Also said 2 days time and they will patch the walls, replace a funky shower valve, and flush my hot water heater for any residue from the rusting zinc. Also a good warranty, but not as meaningful from a smaller shop that might not be in business 5 years from now.

    If you were in my shoes, what option would you do? Some of my thoughts include:
    • The full pex repipe is nice in that it will have least amount of connections and replaces copper lines that are potentially prone to failure from previous shoddy copper work.
    • The partial repipe is cheaper, but do I save $1K with pex (and need numerous pex to copper adapters) or go with all copper?
    • I expect when I sell this house in 7-10 years, a full copper system will look better on inspection than a split between pex and copper.
    Any and all thoughts welcomed.
     
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  17. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

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    You didnt say how old the existing copper work was?


    Id be most interested in a full repipe. Copper 2nd choice full repipe pex. 3rd choice partial pex
     
  18. crazyitalian

    crazyitalian New Member

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    Illinois
    Thanks Jeff - appreciate the perspective. I think the copper to the fixtures was done as part of a flip in 2013/2014 timeframe. They saved a few grand by not just doing the whole house...

    I’m leaning toward keeping existing copper, but replacing remaining galvanized with new copper - 100% copper at the end. That is, unless someone convinces me to just go full PEX on this.
     
  19. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

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    That works too. the copper is pretty new
     
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