Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 20 of Home Ownership

For the past 5 days or so I have been working on repairing the plumbing at the house. Here is a brief recap and the lessons I learned.
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The day Gloria had the water turned on she heard the sound of water GUSHING into the basement. She attempted to operate the main shutoff valve to no avail. She calls me while I'm at work telling me whats going on.   I followed up by asking my boss if I could take the rest of the afternoon off. This was by far my biggest fear of having the water turned on while I was not able to be there. I formulated a plan to fix the leak. I stopped at Lowe's and purchased two ball valves that looked like the following:
At Lowe's (this is where I shop at almost exclusively) these are by far the most expensive valves. However they have the advantage of how fast and easy you can install them. You simply push it on to the pipe with a 1/4 turn and voila you are done. They are made for copper or plastic pipe. Meaning it needs to be a relatively soft material so it can seal against leaks. Needless to say even though I was able to fix one leak it turned out that we had many more. I repaired them all only to find out that some sections were made of galvanized pipe which had too much corrosion to allow the water to flow easily. The following picture is an example I found on the internet that is similar to what I had.

Currently on the market you have about 4 choices to replace your plumbing. There is CPVC, Galvanized, Copper, and PEX. Galvanized should not be a choice ever. So you really only have three
CPVC COPPER PEX
Ease of Install average most difficult easiest
Speed of install medium slow fastest
Special tools needed none propane torch crimper,  special pex cutter
Potential for leaks high medium low
Cost $ $$$$$ $$$$


CPVC is the cheapest and is easy to install. You simply cut it with a saw, remove the burrs and glue it together. One of the problems is over time the plastic has the potential to crack open, and if you don't glue well there is a chance for leaks.

PEX is the newest material on the market. It can handle being frozen (not recommended) and it comes in lengths of 100' and easily bends around obstructions. However you need expensive specialize tools. Also the special fittings are expensive.

Copper is great, has proven track history however the price of copper is at an all time high.

I originally chose CPVC because its the cheapest, and I installed it before and haven't had any problems out of it. As I was getting ready to install it my brother-in-law said I could borrow the specialize tools needed to install PEX!!! This alone shaved over $100 off the cost to install PEX.I originally spent $250 for all the materials needed. When I purchased the PEX it came out to be over $400 ... and I still need some more parts :(.

I went with Blue and Red 3/4" PEX to color code the water lines (sadly lowes was sold out and I had to head over to Home Depot to get the items). I also laid out the cold water supply in a different way than normal.

Traditionally, plumbers use a trunk in branch method to install water lines. However with PEX it is recommended to use the Home run method where each line has its own supply line. I choose to lay it out how  I design water mains at my job.

Once I draw the floor plan I will upload a photo showing how I laid it out. The PEX went in easy and allowed me to easily thread the pipe through areas where I would have had to tear down walls to put in anything else. I did have one problem because sometimes It was not easy to use the crimps in tight quarters.

So far all the cold water lines have been installed and I am preparing to install the red hot water lines.

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