Saturday, September 26, 2009


All done, knock wood. I replaced about 10' 7" of 1/2" galvanized pipe and a 90° elbow likewise, a ball valve and a nifty little copper triple-elbow with the same length of copper, plus a little to make up the vertical run and used the scariest, kewlest 90°s and couplings I've ever seen: SharkBites.

A hired plumber used them in the last repair to our...interesting plumbing, mostly because he was in a hurry and wanted to slambang it together with copper, this being a bit quicker than PEX for an old plumber because the support requirements are simpler. I was at work while he assembled it but I admired the end result and he pointed out there was a dealer a middlin' short drive away and that it was something a homeowner could do.[1]

It's not the cheapest way. Most half-inch fittings in this line have an MSRP a bit North of $8.00.

However, the connections will work with anything of the proper outside diameter -- PEX, copper, whatever. They double-click right together and there's the scary part: they're too darned easy! You can give 'em a forcible yank[2] to check but assembly still seems too gentle to be real. (There are special tools to release them, which of course I bought).

Started 1400, +/-, and finished the job around 1600, about the time Tam arrived home from her visit to the Auld Sod. I've had pressure on the system since 1630. We've subjected it to rapid shut-offs and so far it's all holding.

I still go and check every so often. I'm used to having to solder water pipe or wrench it together, either one with a lot of effort and redoing as needed. There's some Calvinist core in my mind that has trouble trusting anything that easy.

My out of pocket was a bit over $120.00, $40.00 of that for a very high-zoot Rigid brand tubing cutter. (I can't help it; one from the five and dime would probably do as well but the blamed thing is just so nicely made). I bought twice as much water line as I needed, one 20' stick. Actual project took about two hours, including draping a tarp over some of the shelves and removing the old iron pipe. One reason I keep checking is there are two 90°s and a straight coupling over one corner of the area where I have my ham radio setup; it's not really tarp-able and so I fret.

Time will tell. Wish me luck.
1. One advantage to having a basement fulla tools and such, the pros see it and some of them seem to assume I know which way is up.

2. There is no way I can phrase this without someone essaying a double-entendre. Consider your ace trumped already.


Mark Alger said...

Last winter, we had some pipes freeze at Casa d'Alger. Of course, these things never happen at convenient moments. Nevertheless, thank Grid for the Home Despot.

Standing in the plumbing aisle on that occasion, I discovered -- to my delight -- Shark Bites fittings.

As the penny dropped, and I explained the concept to the wife, I said, "If this is real, it's a freakin' miracle." (In case you couldn't guess, I **HATE** to sweat pipe joints.)

To which the HD associate trundling by with another panic-stricken couple in tow responded, "It's real. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread."

I'd say since ... well, since the invention of plumbing.

I second your reccomendation most enthusiastically. Now all we got to do is get them to make a wider variety of fittings.


og said...

Sharkbites originated in industry. The original deal is made by Parker, but Legris and SMC and etc. all eventually came on board. Parker calles them "Prestolok". SMC calls them "one Touch".

You get a failure once in a while but rarely.

Farm.Dad said...

As the handyman for the entire dammed farm family i have used shark bites for a few years now . I have had One semi failure with them and it was fixable by simply popping the connector off and back onto the copper after roughing it up a bit with emory tape . Oh and imho pex is another gift from the gods .

Tango Juliet said...

Huh. Darndest plumbing stuff. The things I don't learn here.

Tango Juliet said...

And good luck!

Roberta X said...

I'm still not sold on PEX but I am starting to think my reluctance may be mostly aesthetic; I'm just not used to seeing plumbing draped in swoopy lines. (Too, not only is some of the stuff I fix liquid-cooled, nice fat copper pipe, the high-power RF coax is also copper, with ODs the same very large pipe and even the same kind of bolted flanges -- no accident, they used to make the stuff starting with water pipe. So I have had a lot of reinforcement that properly-done, squared-up copper is Good)

I do like the modern notion of using a manifold with one shutoff per destination and if ever I redo Roseholme's plumbing, I'll probably use that method.

Og, I didn't realize there were alternatives to SharkBites; I'll check 'em out.

As of this morning, "so far, so good" on my plumbing project.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Ah, plumbing.

I do my best cussing when plumbing...

Nona said...

Wow. That is kewl. Now I'm off to the local Home Depot to see if they have them in stock...

Anonymous said...

Funny you should write about this, I've just started the initial planning for the house I want to build. Part of that process is learning what the state of the art is for materials, and needless to say I'm glad there is something handy for joining PEX to copper to PVC natively.


Farm.Dad said...

What draws me to pex is its resistance to splitting if you get a frozen line . Ranching we have multiple wells and pressure systems many times out in the middle of no where ( 45 min drive to the nearest town in good weather.) and the ability of pex to take a freeze if a well heater fails makes a real difference . I dont care that a well house with multiple lines can look like a bowl of spaghetti , as long as its dry spaghetti i am happy . Trying to get a well pit or house warm enough to glue up pvc in a Colorado winter is not something for the faint of heart.

Grey said...

Shark-Bites are awesome. I keep a small assortment of these fittings in my plumbing emergency kit because they are so easy to use. If necessary, I can cut a length of PVC, PEX, or copper and pop on a valve or drain line in under a minute. I've yet to have one fail. Once again, awesome.

I just reworked my pressure tank and associated plumbing. I generally still use soldered connections, as I like the look of them and trust the technology, and the price isn't bad either. Sweating joints is really easy once you get the hang of it.

Roberta X said...

I've soldered plumbing but I would just as soon not, especially in close quarters. The utilities in the basement here at Roseholme are a bit freeform, making it even more of a challenge.

Stranger said...

Ma'am, your comment reminds me of a 25 Meter Xmitter, water cooled finals, running 18Kv at 2.7A I got suckered into servicing one 4th of July weekend. With nary a verdampt union in sight and no room to swing a stilson. No moving air, either. Fun fun fun.

But it paid well. An important consideration for a young 1st Telephone with a new wife.


aczarnowski said...

We replumbed a sizable portion of our place in copper when Cu was selling at "steal it with the cash and TV" prices because that-is-how-plumbing-is-done. Looking back, I should have spent the money for the PEX tool up. Probably would've come out even in the end and saved myself a LOT of cursing and burns.

Sweating pipes is a perishable skill and I do it just often enough to know that the hard way.

Building Materials Supplies said...


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