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AquaPex in closed loop

Canucker
Canucker Member Posts: 713
Greetings everyone, hope you had a merry Christmas. I have a question regarding my heating system that I'm sure the collective can help me with(I think I know the answer but I'm still learning)

I have a forced hot water system in my house. It's all cast iron radiation. It was a converted gravity fed system with the great big pipes running around the basement. I decided I wanted to finish the basement, so these pipes obviously had to go. Called around to numerous contractors, found one I was happy with and went ahead with the conversion to a P/S set up, made the first and second floor separate zones plus pipe for the future basement loop, and added an indirect HWH. Boiler was not replaced, as it is still running well. All the radiators were homerun with wirsbo aquapex. At the time, I didn't think anything of it because I don't install heating systems and I was impressed with the fitting system(love it).

Fast forward to a year later and now working part time with a plumbing company to learn the trade, I mention to the gentleman training me that I was aware of the expansion system after he asked. I pointed out that the company that had installed my aquapex boiler piping used it. He laughed and said that he hoped it wasn't aquapex, as it has no O2 barrier and that I'll be replacing pumps fairly often with all the ferrous metal in my system, among other issues.

He seems very knowledgeable but then, so did the person who actually did the work.



So my question, after the long winded story, is this. Is the piping going to be a major problem in my system or should I relax?



(I suppose I can get the original installer to replace it all at his cost, if its a problem, but I'm sure that would be a fight that would end up in court and I don't have the money for that) Hopefully I've given enough info but if I didn't, let me know.



Thanks in advance
You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two

Comments

  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,330
    A problem

    Yes, you have a problem. Normally you can install a heat exchanger and non ferrous circulators on the boiler side. With your iron rads, that won't work. Their are chemical additives you could try but the best plan is to remove the tubing.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    ugh

    Thanks for responding. I had a feeling it was the wrong stuff. Everything I was reading pointed that direction. I guess, fortunately, nothing is closed in yet, so there won't be any demolition work to be done. Not sure how to approach it with him. I should probably wait till I'm less upset about it. Hopefully he realizes the error and wants to make it right. Maybe ferrous means something else to him :)
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    AquaPex Vs. HePex:

    After the lengthy amount of time that HePex and AquaPex has been on the market, and the training programs run by Wirsbo and others, anyone doing an install that doesn't know that you can't mix the products hasn't been paying attention.

    It's just not supposed to be done. Except by dubbers and Home Owners who would hire them? Oh I forgot. People looking for the "best price".

    Do they even make Red and Blue HePex? I see it all the time in heating systems and am told so many times that it doesn't matter. I'm starting to wonder if they are right and I am wrong. Until I see a rusted out iron circulator.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    Seen It

    Far too often. And I've seen it destroy a mod/con (Munchkin) in 2 years.



    Get rid of it quickly before it takes out your rads or boiler.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    Hmm

    In his defense, he measured and sized everything in the system but it was 2 junior guys that did the install. I know its a little hard to tell what the piping is at a glance, and I probably wouldn't have noticed if I wasn't trying to figure out where to run the piping for my basement loop (figured if I'm learning this trade, I might as well mess up my own house before somebody else's), He was the one who installed the indirect, but I can see him missing that if he's not looking for it.

    I'm hoping it was ignorance and not greed that played a part in the piping snafu(I haven't priced any jobs but the price difference between the 2 doesn't seem worth the hit your reputation would take from destroying someones system.)

    Sounds like there is still some work to be done on this system when the heating season is over. Hopefully nothing hits the proverbial fan when I bring it to him(I'd do it myself but thats not what I paid for)

    Thanks for your expertise, gentlemen. It's nice to know I'm not crazy or stupid.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited December 2012
    No defense:

    He has no defense. It is marked on the pipe. For Potable Water. It will have printed on the pipe every 3'. AquaPex.

    Heat Pex or HePex is marked every 3' and is marked "Not For Potable Water."



    From the Uponor Web Site:



    Is the same PEX tubing used for both PEX plumbing and radiant floor heating systems?



    Answer

    Uponor offers two types of PEX tubing — Wirsbo AQUAPEX® tubing and Wirsbo hePEX™ plus tubing. Wirsbo AQUAPEX® is used in plumbing and under certain circumstances in radiant floor heating systems. Typically, Wirsbo hePEX plus is used for radiant floor heating as it contains an additional layer on the tubing which acts as a barrier and reduces the amount of oxygen entering into the heating system.
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    I agree

    with you 100%. I was just suggesting that if you weren't looking at the piping once it was installed, it's not something you'll pick up by a glance. I doubt he was the one loading the truck before they came over.(You're right though, it is clearly marked, if you look at the piping, and the boxes its shipped in are pretty clearly marked.)

    Hopefully he doesn't try to explain it away and just gets on with fixing it, I really don't want to have to fight about something that is clearly wrong. (He wasn't the on the low end of the bids, in case you were wondering)

    So it looks like there is some fixing to do when the heating season is over. Thanks again, guys. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    One more question

    before my meeting with the plumber tomorrow. I checked my billing and noticed that an oxygen inhibitor was added when the system was filled. Is that an accepted practice when the wrong tubing is used? Does it even work? It seems to me like you're putting lipstick on a pig in this scenario but I really can't get any answers to that . I would like to have an response for him if he tries to explain it away by saying it was added and fixes the problem.



    Thanks, Eric
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    It's More Like...

    Putting stop leak in a car: it may slow it down for a while, but eventually it's gonna leak more.



    O2 inhibitor, if I understand it correctly, helps to prevent O2 from bonding with a ferrous surface, thus preventing rust. The fact that he added it to the system shows me that he knew the AquaPex was the wrong pipe for a closed loop. It's not a normal practice on small residential systems to add it.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    Thanks

    for all your help getting my ducks in a row. Should be an interesting meeting tomorrow, if he decides to show up. Hopefully he realizes its better to make it right than avoid the glaring oversight, as far as I'm concerned.

    I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Mechanic In A Can:

    My old High School Auto Shop teacher (1960) had a saying for us. "You can't buy a mechanic in a can".

    I haven't found that advice to be wrong yet.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Chemical fixes...

    are NOT a one time proposition. They must be tested and maintained annually. Maybe, if he "guarantees" the inhibitor protection on an annual basis, you will be OK, but I'd suggest that something be written on the boiler so that if/when you sell the place, the new owner is made aware of the need for annual fluid maintenance.



    Even if it is antifreeze with inhibitors, it MUST be tested annually for pH, freeze protection and augmented when necessary.



    Corrosion inhibitors area a good idea even WITH O2 barriers. THere are MANY other places for 02 to get into a system. Rust never sleeps...



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    edited January 2013
    I see

    what you're saying, but it seems to me that he's made his life difficult by not using the proper tubing. How can he eliminate the tubing as a variable in any troubleshooting of future problems? I don't think he can.

    The most upsetting part for me is that, like ice says, its written right on the tubing what you can use it for. A quick perusal of uponors' website specifically says this tubing is not to be used in a system with corrodible or ferrous parts. He had enough attention to detail that he upsized the tubing in spots to keep the head down so a smaller circulator could be used, so I just don't understand how he could allow a timebomb to be added to his work. That doesn't make any sense.

    To be fair, everyone makes mistakes and its easy to be a good contractor when everything is going well. It's scenarios like these that help separate the good from the bad, so hopefully he'll be in touch today and I can give him the chance to make things right. Hopefully, he wants to.



    Eric



    I was planning to downsize this boiler when it reached the end of its useful life because I'm tightening up the building envelope right now but the tighter passages on the newer mod con's would be more at risk of plugging than this cast iron boiler would, am I correct? If that's true, it kind of makes it more critical to ensure the correct tubing has been used to minimize the risk of corrosion to ensure the longevity of my next big investment.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    No show

    on the plumber yesterday, not unexpected, he is very busy usually. I guess it'll be awhile before we get together.

    I just wanted to go over the info one more time to see if I get the information I've been given;

    When my system was repiped, HePex should have been used to minimize the amount of places that oxygen can enter the system, because that will be very damaging to the cast iron and steel I have. But even if it was used, a chemical treatment should still be done to the water to prevent damage from the oxygen you can't eliminate. So, provided all the proper materials were used, you could possibly get away with ignoring the water treatment for short periods of time(2-3yrs, maybe?) If I understand what Mark is saying, by using the non barrier tubing, water treatment becomes absolutely critical and CANNOT be skimped on(yearly maintenance, minimum), or the life of the system will be severely shortened.

    Do I understand it properly?
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    In fairness:

    In fairness to the installer, I've been told through the years, so many conflicting opinions, the only one I use is the one about HePex is for Heating, and AquaPex is for Potable water.

    There may never be a problem.

    I don't ever want to be in a position to explain something that I did wrong and why it is right. I'm a very poor liar.
  • Fortunat
    Fortunat Member Posts: 103
    rehau

    A question for the experts...



    I have a piece of 1/2 apex in front of me from rehau. It says on the side wall



    "Raupex O2 barrier 1/2 inch pex...o2 barrier according to Din 4726..."



    But it also says on it "Potable Tubing ASTM F876/F877/..."



    So, is the heat pex or aqua pex or is it like it sounds and rated for both uses?



    Thanks



    ~fortunat
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    Dual Rated

    One of the few, maybe the only.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Stop leak:

    Or a leaking boiler. It might give you a day or a week. Enough time to prepare for the change-out.
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    It's

    the German in me. If the manufacturer says it is only to be used under certain circumstances, then you will only use it under those circumstances. Sounds like the only question I have to sort out with him is, who is doing the pipe swap? Him or me? One of us is going to be unhappy, either way.

    Thanks again.



    Eric
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    Well,

    I finally had my meeting with the plumber who installed my tubing, and it went about the way I expected. After explaining my concerns to him, he told me I need to do more research on oxygen diffusion through the tube walls, said I'll probably never see any problems during my lifetime, and there's a lot of conflicting information out there, I'll drive myself crazy trying to find out what's right. Also said that a quick way to check to see if oxygen was entering the system would be having to purge air out of the radiators on a regular basis.

    Having enough of being talked down to, I gave him a quick remedial science lesson on how oxygen gets in the system to react with metal, then showed him the Uponor website that clearly points out when and where to use each of their tubing types. Then I asked him the $64000 question. If o2 diffusion isn't a problem, why would Wirsbo go to the trouble of making a tube with a barrier? He offered to top up the system every year with an inhibitor. I told him that would be a good idea with the right tubing but if you have a leak in your cars cooling system, you wouldn't use stop leak, you'd fix the leak, right? (Thanks for that one Ice)

    At this point, he admits that he didn't research whether there was different kinds of plastic piping or not, and if there was a problem it would say something on the box, and it doesn't. He's always used Wirsbo aquapex because its great tubing and you can use it for anything. It's all he carries. He didn't know they had more than one kind, plus it's not getting replaced because that's a big job, just look at the amount of pipe.

    I'm tired of banging my head on the wall by now, so I stand up, shake his hand and thank him for coming over to discuss the issue. He asks for the website so he can look into this stuff, and tells me he'll get back to me. In other words, see you later.



    Am I going to pursue this in court? No. I don't think its worth it for the cost of 1200' of tube. Looks like I'll be doing it in the summer after the heating season is over and hopefully he's a little more educated now, so the next person that hires him gets the right stuff put in. Thanks for letting me rant, and hopefully my tube replacement job goes smoothly. If it doesn't, I know where I'll be coming for answers.



    Thanks, Eric
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Dave H_2
    Dave H_2 Member Posts: 503
    Heat Exchanger

    It may be a heck of alot easier to isolate with a heat exchanger and isolate the non-barrier side from the boiler side. It will also mean other circulators (bronze or stainless), potable expansion tank.....rather than replacing all of the tubing.



    Dave H.
    Dave H
  • AlexS
    AlexS Member Posts: 69
    edited January 2013
    Wow....

    "At this point, he admits that he didn't research whether there was

    different kinds of plastic piping or not, and if there was a problem it

    would say something on the box, and it doesn't. He's always used Wirsbo

    aquapex because its great tubing and you can use it for anything. It's

    all he carries."





    So I wonder how many systems of his are out there that are piped with the wrong stuff...  Doesnt sound like he's going to change his process either.  Maybe you should take him to court over it... It might convince him that he's actually wrong.
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    I considered

    the legal route but I just figure it would be throwing my money away. The cost of the tube is small, relative to the initial quote. Labour would make up a lot of it and whatever he charges for the time spent designing the system. I'd rather re-do it myself and not become the type of installer that stops learning, like he apparently has. I figure that on the bright side, I can rework the new runs to make my life a little easier before I finish the basement, plus I get the opportunity for some hands on experience with this type of job (where I work now doesn't get called for a lot of heating work) And lastly, if I get upset with what the new installer did, I just have to go to the mirror to give him hell. haha



    Dave, I'm not sure a heat exchanger would work in my case, as I have cast iron rads and boiler. I think if I isolated the boiler with a heat exchanger my rads would still be rusting away, no?
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    okay, but

    Will he at least buy you a few rolls of new pipe?
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Aqua-pex

    Did this job require a permit? If so, you should contact your inspector. If not, you may be able to contact your inspector a get a "routine" inspection done as this may be an unsafe condition (act stupid, tell him the pipe says  "for potable use only and you are worried that it could burst and scald your kids). Inspectors in my area have allot of pull when it comes to contractors fixing their errors (that contractor will have to work with the inspector again at some point and he can make life miserable). I have had inspectors ask me to do things that were clearly not even in the contract to make the issue with the homeowner go away. It's worth a shot.

    Rob
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    I'll have

    to look into the permit requirements. It probably falls under replacement, which wouldn't require one unless I was adding to it. But I could be wrong, its something I'll have to check. I hadn't thought of that, thanks.



    As to whether or not he'll throw in the pipe or not, I guess that'll depend on whether "i'll get back to you" was a way to get out the door or he truly meant it. I have a feeling that his canned answers not working on me probably means the former.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 713
    Been awhile

    but I thought I'd give a quick update. I replaced all the aquapex with hepex(wasn't as big a job as the last installer made it out to be, 1 person, 10hr day) and everyone that said it was the wrong tubing to begin with was absolutely correct. In roughly one year there was a significant coating of rust, sticking to EVERY square inch of the aquapex(with inhibitor). I could see it through the tubing with a flashlight. The hepex, so far, has absolutely nothing sticking to its walls(I don't expect that to change)



    Thank you for the excellent advice(those that were worried about the boiler dying a quick death were justified, there was a lot of crap flushed out of the heat exchanger) and hopefully I get another 10 yrs out of the boiler so I can finish the reno work here before it needs replacing
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
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