Considerations When Plumbing with PEX Pipe

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Jean E Colson

Subject: Grey pipe/ polybutalyene?

Our home, built in the fall of 1997, had this grey-colored piping. It was okay until a few years ago when I kept smelling mold in our master bathroom. Called a plumber and he discovered a big, big mold problem due to the plumbing. We had to have our bathroom demolished and rebuilt. The plumber checked our entire home and found lots of cracked connections everywhere (potential leaks) and we paid him to replace all the joints as he felt the pipe itself was okay but potentially, we were going to face more plumbing oroblems.
We have found out that there was a,massive lawsuit over this pipe, but we were too late to get into it. Why was this stuff still being used?

Bruce Davis, Sr

Subject: Polybutalyene & PEX pipes...

Almost always, the 'why' question is answered based on economic forces... & in my industry, the Builders ALWAYS lobby & pressure all of us subs to 'go cheaper'....ALWAYS. That is what happened with Polybutalyene too. Less skilled guys could put in cheaper materials, so the General Contractor Trade Associations got State Codes changed & that made Plumbing Contractors use it, (or if we didn't, our bids with copper were way too high).... & we used it till the Insurance Companies Lobbied to have it stopped due to THEIR losses.

If installed properly & not under 'stresses', I agree with your plumber; Polybute pipe can be fine usually. However, I have found that PEX piping with a good fitting system is still better in many ways, (the Viega System for example), when installed properly ABOVE ground.

If PEX is used underground, I recommend that it be sleeved in something like PVC pipe, due to the poor specs it has for 'sidewall' intrusion... which basically means stuff can soak thru it's sidewalls pretty easily if there is something buried in/with the soil it's buried in.

- Bruce Sr.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.