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Thread: Bad Plumbing???

  1. #1
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    Default Bad Plumbing???

    I am not comfortable with a recent plumbing job I had done to install a line from our hot water heater to an outside shower stall (in North Carolina). The cold line was already installed. Plumber used 1/2" Silver Line Pex #5306 SDR-9 from inside the house out through the sill to the shower stall. The line comes out of the heater and runs up in a curve into a recessed ceiling box (pipe is loose in the box - not fastened down with clamps or anything.) It runs through the box and exits. My questions:

    This seems to be an ok type of pipe for hot water since it has temps printed on the pipe psi @ 180 degrees. Yes?

    Should the pipe curve up to the ceiling and over or should there have been a connector and a right angle? It looks kind of strange to me....

    Should the pipe be fastened to the box somehow or is it ok to just sit there?

    There is an in-line shut-off right above the heater top, but not where the Pex pipe exits the house. Will the inside portion of the pipe drain using the spigot drain that is outside about 25 feet away? If I shut the valve right at the water heater and open the drain spigot 25 feet away, will it drain the entire portion of the pipe or will some water be left in the portion that is inside the house?

    The cold water line has a shutoff right before it exits the house.

    I had to call this plumber back to fasten the exterior portion better because it was traveling in loose loops only fastened occasionally. Now I am wondering about the rest of the job.....

    Photos attached. Need an opinion please because I am not a plumbing expert.....
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by sbetterly; 07-01-2012 at 11:53 AM. Reason: Add info

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    PEX is fine for hot water (check the pipe for rating).

    PEX is OK with loops, but check local codes about clamping it, then ask the plumber to do it to code.

    If the tube goes up and then back down, it will not drain out completely.

    A shut off outside the building is a plus, but not a necessity, since you have one shut off near the WH.

    Why did he choose to go PEX when there is copper in the house? I would have used copper.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    The part that goes up will not drain, but if it is in the house and not outside, it won't hurt anything, it won't freeze. Before you have your plumber to add more clamps, why not have the line insulated, especially if the outdoor run is very long. PEX is not allowed to have fittings that are inside wall cavities or ceiling cavities. That is why there is no right angle connector at your ceiling.
    Last edited by keith3267; 07-01-2012 at 05:44 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    Quote Originally Posted by keith3267 View Post
    The part that goes up will not drain, but if it is in the house and not outside, it won't hurt anything, it won't freeze. Before you have your plumber to add more clamps, why not have the line insulated, especially if the outdoor run is very long. PEX is not allowed to have fittings that are inside wall cavities or ceiling cavities. That is why there is no right angle connector at your ceiling.
    That's a new one on me. Fittings can be used inside walls. How else could you have a branch to another fixture with out a tee?

    John

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o View Post
    That's a new one on me. Fittings can be used inside walls. How else could you have a branch to another fixture with out a tee?

    John
    Some of the first fittings that were used with PEX pipe, mostly in manufactured homes, had a history of leaking. That resulted in a large class action lawsuit. It is unfortunate that PEX got a bad rap for this because it was the fittings, not the PEX that was the problem. The fittings used today do not have a history of leaking, but the backlash from the previous problems led to many restrictions on using fittings with PEX in walls.

    There are a couple of advantages with PEX, it will expand some, unlike any other type of pipe. In fact, one type of fitting used today involves expanding the pipe to fit over a barb and letting it shrink back to its original size, which it will do in a minute or two. This works at room temperature, but I don't know if does at freezing temps. If it does expand and return at freezing temps, that would mean no broken pipes due to a freeze.

    PEX plumbing usually involves home running all lines. A central manifold for the hot and a manifold for the cold lines is installed in the utility room, each has its own shut off valve. A continuous pipe is run to the fixture. If you want to work on that fixture, you can shut off the water to it without affecting the rest of the house.

    The PEX pipe is also not usually fastened down so that if the pipe gets damaged for any reason, you can attach a new pipe on the end of the old one and just pull it into place. This means no tearing out of the walls, ceilings or floors.

    The plumber who did this job did it right as a PEX job. The customer in this case is not used to seeing PEX and is concerned. The plumber should have done a better job of explaining the advantages of PEX and how it is used before doing the job, then he could have offered to use a more conventional material if the customer was uncomfortable with it. Copper of course would have been a lot more expensive, but CPVC would have been competitive. I would have insulated it though.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    You are confusing PEX with POLY pipe. The poly had the class actions. PEX is widely used and approved today with both brass a plastic fittings. Not just inside walls but also under slabs. It looks like your trying to change your original post when you said you can't use fittings on PEX pipe in walls.

    John

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    I'm not confusing PEX with Poly or changing my position. PEX came under the same lawsuit in the end, but as I said, it was the fittings that caused the leaks. By in walls, I meant in inaccessible areas in walls, so I guess that is a small shift in my position. They can be used behind an access panel like for a shower.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    Quote Originally Posted by keith3267 View Post
    I'm not confusing PEX with Poly or changing my position. PEX came under the same lawsuit in the end, but as I said, it was the fittings that caused the leaks. By in walls, I meant in inaccessible areas in walls, so I guess that is a small shift in my position. They can be used behind an access panel like for a shower.
    I sure would like to see you backup your statements. In the mean time here is some reading for you.
    http://www.pexpipe.org/pex-pipes-and-city-use

    John

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Bad Plumbing???

    Interesting article. Here is my perspective. I live in an area where manufactured hoses used to be popular. As a result, I did get one of those mass mailings from a lawyers office telling me that I was eligible for some money from a court settlement for PEX pipes used with Quest fittings. Funny because at the time, my house was plumbed with copper and its not a manufactured home, at least not what most people think of. Mine is a log home, but it was made from a kit and came from a mill, I did not go cut the trees down myself.

    Anyway I was using PEX and Quest fitting to make temporary repairs. The copper was corroding badly due to acidic well water that had a lot of air in it. The well had a bad backflow valve that I was not aware of that caused a lot of air to be pumped into the water. I wanted to plumb the whole house in PEX the way it should be done and as my brother did in his house, but at the time, the county/state had not approved of PEX, not that they would have known if I went ahead and did it anyway. It would only have been a problem if it had never gotten approved and I went to sell the place. I went ahead and used PVC and CPVC to re-plumb the whole house.

    The other issue was that the tools were not available in this area and I could not find them on the internet. Using the internet at the time was difficult for me as we are a long way from the exchange office, 17 miles of wire, and a dial up was our only choice at that time.

    PEX is now approved, but at least at first, it could not have fittings that are inaccessible. As far as I know, it is still that way. So far, every PEX install that I have seen uses "home runs". That is each fixture is fed from a single line back to the manifold. Tee's and such are not used. The only fittings are at the manifold and the fixture. The pipes are also not generally clamped so that if needed, a new line can be pulled into place. The install I saw in the OP pictures looks pretty typical to me.

  10. #10
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    Talking Re: Bad Plumbing???

    Quote Originally Posted by keith3267 View Post
    Interesting article. Here is my perspective. I live in an area where manufactured hoses used to be popular. As a result, I did get one of those mass mailings from a lawyers office telling me that I was eligible for some money from a court settlement for PEX pipes used with Quest fittings. Funny because at the time, my house was plumbed with copper and its not a manufactured home, at least not what most people think of. Mine is a log home, but it was made from a kit and came from a mill, I did not go cut the trees down myself.

    Anyway I was using PEX and Quest fitting to make temporary repairs. The copper was corroding badly due to acidic well water that had a lot of air in it. The well had a bad backflow valve that I was not aware of that caused a lot of air to be pumped into the water. I wanted to plumb the whole house in PEX the way it should be done and as my brother did in his house, but at the time, the county/state had not approved of PEX, not that they would have known if I went ahead and did it anyway. It would only have been a problem if it had never gotten approved and I went to sell the place. I went ahead and used PVC and CPVC to re-plumb the whole house.

    The other issue was that the tools were not available in this area and I could not find them on the internet. Using the internet at the time was difficult for me as we are a long way from the exchange office, 17 miles of wire, and a dial up was our only choice at that time.

    PEX is now approved, but at least at first, it could not have fittings that are inaccessible. As far as I know, it is still that way. So far, every PEX install that I have seen uses "home runs". That is each fixture is fed from a single line back to the manifold. Tee's and such are not used. The only fittings are at the manifold and the fixture. The pipes are also not generally clamped so that if needed, a new line can be pulled into place. The install I saw in the OP pictures looks pretty typical to me.
    And this is what you based your remarks on? What your doing is giving advice on a subject you have limited knowledge of. I see from the July issue of This Old House you expertise is in gardening. Maybe you should stick to giving advice on that subject. Mine is plumbing and I would never think of giving advice gardening. Bad advice is worse then giving no advice at all.

    John

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