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"The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the cheap price is forgotten. "

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pex pipe as an option

Recently I went to a customers house who had a water piping leak. This was not the first leak I repaired for this customer, it was the second. I fixed the leak and the customer started to inquire about re-piping their entire water system inside their home. They asked about options. I informed the customer that because of their locale they were limited to either copper or steel pipes in the home. Cpvc or pex had, by the locale, been rejected by way of an addendum to the Uniform Plumbing Code. When the customer asked why, I suggested they call the locale and ask. Now please don't get me wrong this is not knocking either steel or copper both of which I have installed, at the customers request, for years. Both are good, quality materials in their respective environments and for differing reasons. With this in mind the water in this area is particularly aggressive for both copper and steel. This is the focus of this particular segment.

Why pex?

I don't think one material is better than the other until water conditions are considered. With the addition of chloramines in public and private water supplies combined with already aggressive water I am noticing a new phenomenon of piping failures in the metals. I can't say I'd recommend replacing failed materials with more of the same failed material. Pex is not new it has been used extensively in Europe for years and is taking the plumbing market by storm. But buyer beware it is not the save all solution for every application. The key to pex, in my opinion, is how it is joined and how it is installed. There are quick connections that incorporate "O" rings that may react with the water, there are plastic inserts that may be subject to failure (see quest piping) there are installation standards that can and will cause problems if they are not followed. My idea of a quality install would incorporate the following practices. Pex pipe with brass inserts, pex bend supports, a home run from a strategically placed manifold system and copper stub outs. One hot or cold pipe from manifold to one fixture. A manifold can be installed in a wall with a manifold box and gives the consumer access to conveniently turning off the water in one central location within the home or garage. If you would like to talk to a live person about pex, have questions or just are curious visit http://www.pexsupply.com/ they have a live chat feature and will answer questions about pex you may have for your particular application. Pex should be installed by a professional plumbing contractor.

Consult with your local building department before considering pex to insure it has been adopted, if it hasn't ask why not and inquire about the steps you would need to take to get a variance. If you have a failed water system you may get one depending on the locale you live.

Call me if your interested in knowing more or would like an estimate for installing PEX or Pex related products for you at (408) 263-8433

your plumber,

Cameron


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