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Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: April 21, 2011 09:38AM
In reference to my pinhole leak thread from last week (I think), I got a quote out from last summer for a whole house repipe. Back then, I had them quote me the repipe for copper, CPVC and PEX.

I called them yesterday to discuss some things about the quote and they told me that they are no longer installing PEX due to lawsuits. I pushed him to clarify and he said that there have been lawsuits relating to carcinogens leaching out of the PEX, apparently caused by chlorinated water (ie, most city water) running through the tubing.

So, they won't do PEX anymore. Anybody hear about this or similar issues?



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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: michael_s
Date: April 21, 2011 09:57AM
I hope not. My entire house is plumbed with wirsbo pro pex.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: April 21, 2011 09:58AM
Quote
michael_s
I hope not. My entire house is plumbed with wirsbo pro pex.

Maybe this particular plumbing company is just being overcautious?
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: April 21, 2011 10:04AM
I picked copper to replace WWII-era galvanized in a rent house (easy access via the basement).

PEX seems the choice for DIY where one wants to keep the cost as low as possible (if one can borrow or rent the tools required)
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: billb
Date: April 21, 2011 10:10AM
Is there anything or anyplace in California that isn't leeching carcinogens ?
Don't they make you just put a bright yellow warning tag on every faucet ? :-)

Looks like PEX has been delisted from the state residential plumbing codes again so unless your local jurisdictions allow for it you may be SOL. ( at least until it gets listed again).
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: April 21, 2011 10:14AM
Two separate categories of PEX related class action lawsuits are out there. One group of lawsuits is alleging that chemicals leach out of the plastic as mentioned. Another is against the manufacturer Zurn for defective brass fittings for use with PEX. Apparently that line of fittings were designed too thin with substandard brass and can fail catastrophically as little as a few months after installation. Those fittings were removed from the market recently, discovery has shown evidence they knew of the problem for several years before discontinuing the product line and recommending their plastic fittings over brass.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: ADent
Date: April 21, 2011 10:25AM
I don't see too many new places being built with copper around here.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: April 21, 2011 10:41AM
Most people just steal copper these days.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: April 21, 2011 10:47AM
Just grab some cheap 18 gauge from The Shack, strip and wind it around your house pipes. When the Pex degrades you'll be left with fresh copper piping.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: April 21, 2011 10:53AM
Quote
freeradical
Most people just steal copper these days.

And as a result, most rentals are being replumbed with CPVC.

Personally, I prefer copper, but I don't own rentals in da hood. A buddy of mine who does now actually strips the houses he buys of their copper and replumbs with CPVC, JUST so they don't get raided if they are vacant for a few months. (he had two houses get stripped of their copper last year).
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: mikebw
Date: April 21, 2011 11:11AM
Before we bought our house a few years ago the inspector nearly freaked when he saw a section of PEX. Looked like the house was originally hooked up to the mains via PEX, but had since been switched to copper, and the rest of the house was copper too so he was happy about that. Not sure what the big deal was, but I am guessing PEX is not approved for use in my area.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: April 21, 2011 11:29AM
Quote
Bill in NC
I picked copper to replace WWII-era galvanized in a rent house (easy access via the basement).

PEX seems the choice for DIY where one wants to keep the cost as low as possible (if one can borrow or rent the tools required)

The crimping tool is less than $100. If one needs to buy a torch, propane, flux and has to redo solder connections due to a leak, the cost difference is negligible. Not to mention that one can do several PEX connections in the time it takes the average DYIer to sweat one joint.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: April 21, 2011 11:37AM
I'm going to lay my money on the problem being the method of cross-linking, because it sure as hell
isn't the polyethylene itself. Silane is the likely culprit, but I'll find out more. Done with peroxides there
is simply nothing to fear. Same with ebeam and gamma, though only the former was really ever done
once established (and that was too expensive once peroxides were utilized).
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: April 21, 2011 12:05PM
I've looked into this - as well as talked to a friend of mine who ran the PEX business at Exxon (that was
copied in Tulsa...) and he just rolled his eyes at this whole California thing.

The key word here is "the PEX membrane CAN be penetrated by pollutants (in the water...) and cause
possible leaching AND/OR permit bacteria to grow THAT CAN CAUSE DEATH!"

That's straight from eHow or one of those sites... in other words, just like water sitting in the hot copper
stump can lead to bacteria growing, that if it is the right bacteria, CAN CAUSE DEATH!"

So everyone get your HazMat suit on before you drink any water in California.

btw... the two largest suppliers of this material (Chevron/Phillips Chemical Co, and Exxon (formerly Allied
Signal) use simple "peroxides" on a "multi-unsaturated site molecule" to obtain the cross-linked phase.

Other companies that buy bulk PE and extrude PEX themselves could use silanes, and there is some evidence
of testicular exposure to 2 of the 4 groups of oxime silanes having toxicity that is receptor specific in
the nuts of rats -- but they both had to be present.

In other words... The Sky Isn't Falling everywhere else except wherever this has been changed as far as the
spec goes for plumbing code.

The Plastics Headhunter has spoken.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2011 06:30PM by rgG.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Black
Date: April 21, 2011 12:49PM
Are those the pipes in question in your picture?




MR/F Guestmap: [www.mapservices.org]
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: April 21, 2011 12:52PM
Quote
Black
Are those the pipes in question in your picture?

Yeah, you figured it out!
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: billb
Date: April 21, 2011 12:56PM
Quote
pinkoos
Quote
Black
Are those the pipes in question in your picture?

Yeah, you figured it out!

That's a huge juice extractor the kids are on.
Must be for Texas grown grapefruit.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: April 21, 2011 01:02PM
Quote
Jimmypoo
I'm going to lay my money on the problem being the method of cross-linking, because it sure as hell
isn't the polyethylene itself. Silane is the likely culprit, but I'll find out more. Done with peroxides there
is simply nothing to fear. Same with ebeam and gamma, though only the former was really ever done
once established (and that was too expensive once peroxides were utilized).

Apparently according to this site, [factoidz.com], the problem is that peroxide cross-linked PEX can't use much antioxidant in the mix and is attacked by high chlorine levels in water. Silane cross-linking allows use of more antioxidants and does protect against "aggressive" water with high chlorine levels.

I guess this is all going to sort itself out over the next few years, but it is so reminding me of the problems found with the last widely used plastic plumbing. That I am familiar with as my ex has an upstairs bathroom that was plumbed with that, and she has lost both the hot and cold water lines so far. Unfortunately she was not eligible for compensation from the lawsuits over that and has had to come up with the money to replace the pipes herself.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: April 21, 2011 01:34PM
>>and is attacked by high chlorine levels in water.

This is because chlorine is an oxidizer itself. I limited my questioning to the carcinogen side - hence
the silane connection. This seems less consequential than the PButylene crap 20 years ago for mfg housing, etc.

Someone needs to decide where the bigger problem is -- though I would have never thought that anything
short of swimming pool chlorination would be sufficient for pipe degradation.

That, of course, seems to depend on the definition of "recirculation" as well. Is that limited to geothermal
or other heat pump/filtration type applications? Or does that include typical municipal levels of chlorine in drinking water?


edit above re: polybutylene



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2011 01:37PM by Jimmypoo.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: April 21, 2011 01:39PM
the biggest problem with the plumbing below - is that someone cut the plumbing length-wise
after installing it.

Therefore, all the water fell out of the pipes.

.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: AllGold
Date: April 21, 2011 01:51PM
Quote
Jimmypoo
Someone needs to decide where the bigger problem is -- though I would have never thought that anything
short of swimming pool chlorination would be sufficient for pipe degradation.

They have a new water plant now so it's probably no longer the case (I hope) but when I lived in Iowa City in the 80s and 90s, they put so much chlorine in the water that it smelled like a swimming pool when you took a shower.

The author of the Bloom County comic strip used to live in Iowa City and did a strip about it when he moved away. One of the strip's characters talked about the things he would miss in Iowa City; the punchline was he "would not miss the tap water that tastes like Spic-n-Span."



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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: billb
Date: April 21, 2011 02:11PM
Quote
Jimmypoo
the biggest problem with the plumbing below - is that someone cut the plumbing length-wise
after installing it.

Therefore, all the water fell out of the pipes.

.

That's easy to fix by just using bigger pipes. devil smiley



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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: April 21, 2011 03:31PM
Leave it to jimmypoo to find a way to work the phrase "testicular exposure" into a post! grinning smiley



It is what it is.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Grateful11
Date: April 21, 2011 06:43PM
When we had the Dining room and Kitchen totally remodeled last fall I had our Handyman completely replumb
the whole house with PEX but we have well water so no chlorine. I also had a whole house water filter installed,
we are a bit surprised at the amount of discoloration we're seeing in the sediment filter, we're changing the
filter element every 3 months, not sure if that's an abnormal time frame or not.



Grateful11
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: April 21, 2011 08:45PM
IMHO, that's the real issue.

"It's just as good as copper" alternatives have historically had issues - what will happen with PEX a decade or two down the road?

plumbking earlier commented: "PEX is like running garden hoses to all you[r] fixtures"

Quote
JoeH
I guess this is all going to sort itself out over the next few years, but it is so reminding me of the problems found with the last widely used plastic plumbing.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: April 21, 2011 08:47PM
Probably as dangerous as DiHydrogen Monoxide is. eye rolling smiley
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: April 21, 2011 09:15PM
Quote
Grateful11
we are a bit surprised at the amount of discoloration we're seeing in the sediment filter, we're changing the
filter element every 3 months, not sure if that's an abnormal time frame or not.


That's just the dioxin & PCBs you're getting from the ground water that starts from Lake Norman.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: Grateful11
Date: April 22, 2011 05:22PM
Yeah Lake Norman is the root of all evil, late FIL lived on the same property his entire life. He said when they built
Lake Norman they started having much stronger storms here and it's been that way ever since, he passed away 3 years ago.



Grateful11
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: April 23, 2011 02:39PM
Interesting thread. Thanks for all of the replies. I think I'll probably just stay away from PEX for now if/when I go through with the repipe.

Interestingly, I went to get a smoothie yesterday and I met a City of Houston plumbing inpsector at the smoothie shop. So, I picked his brain and his general impression was/has been to stay away from PEX (mainly that it's not as "tried and true" as CPVC though I know it has been used for much longer in Europe than in the US) and go for CPVC (copper - too expensive and not good for hard water areas like mine).

Anyway, thanks again for the enlightening discussion.
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Re: Plumbers are not using PEX anymore for fear of lawsuits?
Posted by: thinkitthrough
Date: November 28, 2012 11:58PM
A good rule of thumb. I see u have kids. Go to your local pet shop buy a beta fish. They usually cost less than 8.00. Fill a container with water from your tap untouched (add. No chemicals) let the water stand over night to become room temp. Next day put fish in that water. If your water is bad fish will be dead in less than 48 hours. Fish dies b/c of harmful chemicaals in water. If fish lives u water good. Fish are lowest. On the. Food chain. Chrlorine and harmful chemicals kill em quck. When pet shop person tries to sell u watger additives don't buy them. U don't add those water additives to u kids bath right... simplest and cheapest method to know if u water poisoned or not
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