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Pex

Steve Minnich
Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
edited April 2018 in THE MAIN WALL
I'm seeing more and more pex and pap being used on near boiler piping. I suppose it'll work in lower water temperature applications but I cringe every time I see it. Is it just me or am I being hyper-critical? I could never do it and if it ever becomes the norm, I'll be grateful that I'm closer to the end of my career than the beginning or middle.
Steve Minnich
Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
[email protected]
delta TGordySuperTech
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Comments

  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 863
    Copper and/or steel for me always. I don't think I could bring myself to do near boiler piping in pex...
    Steve MinnichSuperTech
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    It was hard for me to switch from primarily steel to copper. I still do both but all copper on modcons which is my go-to choice.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,066
    Doesn’t O2 ingress increase at higher operating temperatures in pex?

    All the rust and magnetite we see in systems is related to O2 getting in

    For lower temperature distribution pex seems to make sense
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • It's hard to make PEX look good although I've never tried straight lengths.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
    Steve Minnichdelta TSuperTech
  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 773
    In VT they have a code for us that we need to be 6' or maybe even greater from the heat source on water heaters and boilers with hard pipe. Its a good attempt to keep everyone doing nice work, but I still find a lot of water heaters in a closet run with pex up to the mixing valve.
    Tom
    Montpelier Vt
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,283
    It's cheap, and any monkey can run it. More and more hack "plumbers" showing up around here claiming to be hydronics professionals and will put a system together solely in pex. Don't get me wrong, pex is a great thing to have in certain applications but near boiler piping is not one of them IMO. Wood boilers are huge in my area, roughly 50% of homes have one. Since I've started installing them on my own (about 3 years) I have yet to see a single job done by the local hacks with anything but pex or polybutylene. Pumps hanging from a wet spaghetti pex line, no mixing valves or exchangers, just in and out. Strange thing is, those guys charge double what I do and still get a lot of work because they've been around forever and I don't have time. I'd love to do it all the first time instead of coming back and fixing everything later on, but having a fulltime job otherwise makes it pretty tough. Some day.....
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,628
    edited April 2018
    GroundUp said:

    It's cheap, and any monkey can run it. More and more hack "plumbers" showing up around here claiming to be hydronics professionals and will put a system together solely in pex. Don't get me wrong, pex is a great thing to have in certain applications but near boiler piping is not one of them IMO. Wood boilers are huge in my area, roughly 50% of homes have one. Since I've started installing them on my own (about 3 years) I have yet to see a single job done by the local hacks with anything but pex or polybutylene. Pumps hanging from a wet spaghetti pex line, no mixing valves or exchangers, just in and out. Strange thing is, those guys charge double what I do and still get a lot of work because they've been around forever and I don't have time. I'd love to do it all the first time instead of coming back and fixing everything later on, but having a fulltime job otherwise makes it pretty tough. Some day.....

    Ok , I'm gonna say it . Quit being a **** and charge more . Please stop calling everyone who does things differently than you a hack , it's just not nice and here at Heating Help we don't wanna offend anyone , God forbid . While I use Copper , Steel or AquaTherm anywhere near a boiler I have seen folks do it and do it well , copper , steel for 12" on circs with rigid hangers / supports , same on other hardware and Uponor supports under all the near boiler pex , not what I do but acceptable and neat none the less .

    Radiant jobs and hydronic jobs in general are getting harder to sell because of price , so if a man must take this step to sell and install systems does not necessarily mean he is a hack . If we're not installing systems , this thing we love basically dies . Ya know , those in glass houses or maybe , those without sin .

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/165731/different-trade-same-story#latest
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
    Gordy
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    If a heating contractor is unable to sell a boiler using something other than pex for near boiler piping, that heating contractor needs a better sales department.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    Solid_Fuel_ManSuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,180
    I'll have to agree with @Rich here, @GroundUp . I'm not in the trades -- I'm sort of a building superintendent (I take care of historic properties; an interesting gig) -- though I could be. From my point of view, I believe that I should pay a tradesperson -- as it might be you, @GroundUp , what the job is worth. I don't mind paying less money, any more than the next person -- don't get me wrong! -- but if I want a quality job, I'll also expect to pay for it (I might add, if I pay for a quality job, I expect one -- and I have been known to not invite someone back...)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Solid_Fuel_ManCanucker
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,307
    We used to see all steel/iron near boiler piping with copper as distribution. Then we saw more and more copper as near boiler piping with copper distribution. Then it was copper near boiler, with PEX distribution.... you see where this is going?

    It just doesn't look professional. And I've been known to say "if you hire a professional, you expect professional results" which goes with professional bills! Rigid near boiler piping just looks better for no other reason.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    SuperTech
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    Where is all of this happening! I’ve never seen near boiler piping in pex. After the steel or copper supply and return manifolds yes, I see that all the time. Just the individual zones. Im in Mass which has some of the strictest code in the country so perhaps that’s why. In MA you must have 24” of copper (on a water heater) before transitioning to pex. But on a boiler? Never seen it or even gave it a thought. Somebody post some pics I’ve got to see this.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    I agree keeping the pex from the hottest part of the system is beneficial in trying to control O2 diffusion.

    Anyone ever do a labor/material cost comparison pex verses hard pipe. Pex properly done of course. I’ll bet it’s not huge to actually be a factor in whether you get the job. Most would see the material used as a quality job, but that’s my opinion.

    If you can’t sell your business, your work, and yourself. You are up the creek with out a paddle, no matter what your bottom line is compared to the competitors.
    PhilDavidSteve Minnich
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    @PhilDavid - I follow hundreds of heating contractors on Instagram through my business IG account. Those hundred lead to hundreds more with everyone, of course, sharing heating related pictures. There, I see it all the time. And it’s not being presented like it’s wall of shame stuff, but rather with abundant pride. Again, I cringe.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • RWALD
    RWALD Member Posts: 12
    <img src="https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/editor/y7/x2xhoc3v5emk.jpg" alt=""
    Aquatherm or me looks good and works good!
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 928
    When installing boilers of any kind black steel pipe or copper pipe from the boiler up to the ceiling then switching over to pex tubing with oxygen barrier or pex tubing with aluminum as the oxygen barrier out to your heat emitters I see nothing wrong with this. From what I see some draw backs to radiant pex is that while running 180F degree hot water through the pex tubing is that the tubing will droop like crazy requiring a lot of support clamps and with that hot of temperature the pex tubing will grow in length. Plus from what I was told the hotter the water temp run through pex radiant tubing the oxygen barrier can break down letting oxygen into the system where that oxygen can attack the metals in the system causing these parts to fail prematurely. In my house I have a Triangle Tube Prestige Excellence PE110 boiler in 9 heating seasons and about 5 years ago I added some cast iron radiators and I piped them in using Viega Fostapex pex tubing with oxygen barrier and so far so good. Ran copper up to the ceiling and into an copper header then Viega Fostapex out to the CI radiators and back.
    The Viega Fostapex comes in 1/2” - 3/4” - 1” sizes in 150’ rolls or 20’ lengths. Viega propress fittings have a copper press fitting one end and pexpress other end right onto the Viega Fostapex tubing.
    Steve Minnich
  • the_donut
    the_donut Member Posts: 374
    edited April 2018
    Many of the arguments are the same as when plumbers transitioned from clay tile and oakum/lead and copper drains to pvc/abs. Any “hack” aka guy using a hacksaw could cut and solvent weld pvc. Different techniques for different situations and times.
    Solid_Fuel_ManSuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,180
    Sort of along @the_donut 's comment. Isn't it a matter of using the best material for the job? For example, if I have to run a new pipe up through a narrow crooked chase (happens all the time) I have a choice, even for hot water: PEX -- or take the chase apart. It's going to be PEX. On the other hand, if I have to run a hot water line 15 feet horizontally and exposed across a basement ceiling, it's going to be copper (or black iron if it's steam). Why? I haven't figured out a reasonable way to support PEX so it doesn't become a roller coaster when it's hot, at least without using a lot of hangers. As the man said, different techniques [and materials] for different situations and times.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    @Jamie Hall I was talking about near boiler piping, exclusively. But not that you brought it up, I’m taking the chase apart.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    Every job I work on, I attack it as if it’s my own home or building. I’ll take the time to do it right. I’m not the right guy for everybody.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    GordySuperTechdelta Tgennady
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,628
    edited April 2018

    Sort of along @the_donut 's comment. Isn't it a matter of using the best material for the job? For example, if I have to run a new pipe up through a narrow crooked chase (happens all the time) I have a choice, even for hot water: PEX -- or take the chase apart. It's going to be PEX. On the other hand, if I have to run a hot water line 15 feet horizontally and exposed across a basement ceiling, it's going to be copper (or black iron if it's steam). Why? I haven't figured out a reasonable way to support PEX so it doesn't become a roller coaster when it's hot, at least without using a lot of hangers. As the man said, different techniques [and materials] for different situations and times.

    Uponor figured it out Jamie .

    https://www.uponorpro.com/~/media/extranet/files/manuals/pex-apipesupport_is_p756_0614.ashx?version=062220160829

    https://www.uponor-usa.com/media-room/press-releases/uponor-pexa-pipe-support-now-available-up-to-3.aspx


    Stephen Minnich said :
    I was talking about near boiler piping, exclusively. But not that you brought it up, I’m taking the chase apart.

    Every job I work on, I attack it as if it’s my own home or building. I’ll take the time to do it right. I’m not the right guy for everybody.

    I agree with both of these points . I often run into customers who will not tolerate certain things or whom cannot5 be reasoned with . When this happens I often must make a decision about say , taking the chase apart , what if they refuse to have the chase taken apart and you must find another way when you're already into the job , maybe you missed one detail that leaves you making this decision . Pex it is then . Our ideals sometimes must be left at the door in order to get the whole job done right and properly albeit not exactly how we would prefer .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
    Solid_Fuel_ManCanucker
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    edited April 2018
    I understand there are exceptions to every rule or ideal or just about anything. My point was that I’m not one for cutting corners. It’s based on the whole -

    “One hundred years from now, people will gaze at my work...”

    “A thing worth doing is worth doing well.”

    And my dad (the best dad ever) - “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when are you going to have time to do it a second time to make it right?”
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    Rich_49SuperTechdelta TErin Holohan Haskell
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,936


    “One hundred years from now, people will gaze at my work...”

    I wish more people felt this way, but lets face it: what percentage of the construction that went in during the last few decades will be standing a century from now? What percentage was even designed with a 100 year life expectance, let alone longer?

    And my dad (the best dad ever) - “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when are you going to have time to do it a second time to make it right?”

    "There's never time to do it right, but there's always time to do it over!"

    Rich_49
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    @ratio That won’t stop me from trying : )
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,936
    @Stephen Minnich, me either; but sometimes I feel like I'm putting lipstick on a sow's ear. Or something like that. :smiley:
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,691
    I too cringe at the sight of pex on near boiler piping. I can't stand it. About 95% of the time that I see pex it's usually a big sloppy mess.
    Maybe since they know that it isn't the best way to do it they don't take any pride in their work.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,180
    I couldn't possibly agree with you more, @Stephen Minnich ! The problem I hit in the work I do (maintaining/restoring historic buildings, mostly houses and barns) is that it's not at all uncommon to be faced with a choice of two evils... or sometimes more! That chase example I cited is one such: the first step, of course, was to get the rusted galvanized steel pipe out. Take the chase apart? Hmm... old growth fine grain hard pine box. A bit of examination revealed... oh no. Forged nails concealed by beautifully done putty (found them with a magnet --no visible sign of them). Get a bar in there and start prying the cover off? Well, no. Cover is one piece and goes above the ceiling (original plaster) and below the floor (more hard pine, tongue and groove). Besides, d___ near impossible without marking the wood.

    Colourful language. (this is a family friendly forum).

    There was access in a more modern bathroom (1930ish) up top, and in the basement (2 foot space between the top of the foundation and the subfloor). OK. Sawzall at the top. Back to the basement. Wrench. Oh good -- pipe unscrewed. Drop 2 feet. Sawzall. Drop 2 feet. Sawzall. Rinse and repeat.

    There are times when PEX is your friend...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Rich_49Steve MinnichSolid_Fuel_Mandelta T
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    @Jamie Hall I understand. :smile:

    I use Pex A for low temp/radiant home runs where allowed, and I use PAP for high temp manifold distribution systems where allowed.

    I have no problem with that and it’s easy to make look really good. But for near boiler piping, a bridge too far for me.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    Rich_49SuperTechdelta TSolid_Fuel_Man
  • smklin
    smklin Member Posts: 69
    Dose Aquatherm have oxygen infusion
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,283
    edited April 2018
    @Rich I'm not entirely certain what your vendetta is, but I do sincerely apologize for not being a capitalist pig when charging a job. 3 figures per hour already makes me uncomfortable, so perhaps it's simply a moral issue that I'm unable to double my price to capitalize like the rest. I prefer to treat the customer right and get the callback for the next job over screwing them on the first one and having my name dragged through the mud forever after, like many of these "hacks" as I will continue to call them. Doing things differently than me has no bearing on what I refer to as such, none at all, so please get that out of your head. Those who have no knowledge of the trade they're trying to sell and take no pride in the aesthetics and function of their work however, they will get no respect from me. I'm sorry if that is offensive to you, but that is the definition of the term in my neck of the woods. I'm totally open to using whatever material gets the job done, as long as it gets done safely and correctly. Hanging a 10lb cast iron circulator from a chunk of 190 degree pex tubing and then circulating that same 190 degree water directly into a low temp radiant slab is not acceptable, in any sense of the trade. These people are not tradesmen, they are hacks. As for my not getting the work, it's often not for any reason other than lack of time. I work 60+ hours a week in commercial and have a stack of rental properties as well as my own home and acreage to maintain. This residential stuff is limited to late nights and weekends, scheduled around the attention that my family and other personal matters require. The phone rings several times a day and I am scheduled out to August as it sits, but most people want things done NOW instead of 4 months from now and are willing to pay the price for convenience. The NOW guys are often NOW guys for a reason
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,628
    GroundUp said:

    @Rich I'm not entirely certain what your vendetta is, but I do sincerely apologize for not being a capitalist pig when charging a job. 3 figures per hour already makes me uncomfortable, so perhaps it's simply a moral issue that I'm unable to double my price to capitalize like the rest. I prefer to treat the customer right and get the callback for the next job over screwing them on the first one and having my name dragged through the mud forever after, like many of these "hacks" as I will continue to call them. Doing things differently than me has no bearing on what I refer to as such, none at all, so please get that out of your head. Those who have no knowledge of the trade they're trying to sell and take no pride in the aesthetics and function of their work however, they will get no respect from me. I'm sorry if that is offensive to you, but that is the definition of the term in my neck of the woods. I'm totally open to using whatever material gets the job done, as long as it gets done safely and correctly. Hanging a 10lb cast iron circulator from a chunk of 190 degree pex tubing and then circulating that same 190 degree water directly into a low temp radiant slab is not acceptable, in any sense of the trade. These people are not tradesmen, they are hacks. As for my not getting the work, it's often not for any reason other than lack of time. I work 60+ hours a week in commercial and have a stack of rental properties as well as my own home and acreage to maintain. This residential stuff is limited to late nights and weekends, scheduled around the attention that my family and other personal matters require. The phone rings several times a day and I am scheduled out to August as it sits, but most people want things done NOW instead of 4 months from now and are willing to pay the price for convenience. The NOW guys are often NOW guys for a reason

    Quite the rant . First off I have no vendetta , use a dictionary . Second , if the hacks are getting 2xs what you are why in the world would you feel bad about raising your price by 50% while still offering a superior job ? Taking into consideration you are taking more of the little time you have to perform this work it just makes sense . I had your exact outlook quite awhile ago until I realized I SHOULD be getting more money .

    Dan H used to tell a story about almost losing a gig because he did not charge enough or something to that effect until the guy presenting his stuff told him to charge more , the customers were actually happy and felt better about listening to a guy that got more because hey , what could a guy that makes half what we should be paying know . Maybe Dan would elaborate .

    All that aside , relax , I meant no disrespect
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,283
    Vendetta in my dictionary is defined as a prolonged campaign against someone, which would appear has been your angle the last few responses to my comments. Definitions aside, it's a moral thing. Making 3 figures per hour worked is seemingly already highway robbery in my mind and I can't get past the little guy on my shoulder telling me I'm a crook if I charge any more. I'm just a 1 man operation and I do not advertise, as the word of mouth calls I already get are more than I can handle and I'm content making what I make. Some day if/when things progress and I pull the pin on the commercial gig, rates will go up with overhead but until then the justification is not there... Having just recently launched into contractorhood, I am not comfortable with it just yet. Didn't mean to come across as a jerk, simply illustrating my point. Thanks
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,628
    edited April 2018
    If a few comments meant as discussion are taken as a campaign against you , maybe you should participate less in the internet forum arena . Cheese and Rice dude . Just fir the record , I have no angle except the one to help folks and sometimes that entails frank comments . If you'd rather me never comment on anything you post again , let me know in a PM and I'll put it on a Post It next to my desk along with the other names on the pay no mind list

    Maybe you don't believe you are worth what you should be commanding ? That's a shame .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
    gennadyDan Foley
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    edited April 2018
    @GroundUp - Don't beat yourself up about what you're charging. If you're not charging at least 3 figures, you're undercharging. I did the math on this many times. If you did have someone working for you, you would need to charge a minimum of 3 times their hourly rate just to break even. So, it's easy to see how quickly you get to that number. And it's your business, you deserve to make more than that. My .02.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    delta TRich_49Canucker
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,283
    If the competition is the comparing factor, I know very well what I'm worth lol but again, being the new guy, can't get greedy or these fellas are going to get all the work and nobody will know any better. Low rates and high skill are the key to a good client base around here- takes some time to build the reputation as you guys know. Stephen I'm certainly not beating myself up about anything. Being in an area where it takes most households 4 years' income to buy a new truck, many people get pretty feisty when they find out they just paid 8x what they make an hour for labor. I appreciate the comments, but I'm really doing fine at the current rates. It's more of a hobby than a job that way :# . So about this near boiler piping....... Thread seems to have derailed a bit. Sorry!
    Steve Minnich
  • the_donut
    the_donut Member Posts: 374
    This discussion reminds me of one I heard about Roman engineering. Many of their structures are still in good condition today (aqueducts, roads, etc..). Is it over engineering? How long should something last? What length should plumbing life cycle be? Did they spend too much time and energy on this instead of other things?

    I think of the first big push for led lighting. Reminded me of the too cheap to meter atomic energy speeches of the 1950’s. Life cycle on leds are supposed to be 22 years. Maintenance and property management guys loved the idea. Install bulbless fixtures, don’t change light bulbs during turnover, time saved=money earned and energy saved. Then I thought, what happens to these entry level guys changing light bulbs and switches all days? What will apprentices cut their teeth on?

    Luckily led failure rate is much higher than advertised to get to that magic $1/bulb number and high efficiency, reliable, cheap drivers (only pick 2) aren’t living up to their reputation for residential applications.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Not all people have the perception that paying less means they are getting a better contractor for the work.

    Your competition who is charging more yet doing inferior work is actually setting the bar for costs in your area. This is something you should be leveraging. Your work if superior to the competition will get you the jobs.
    CanuckerRich_491Matthias
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,936
    If you make enough to cover your costs, and are satisfied with your wages, you're charging enough.

    This does have an impact on others, however. Less money flowing through the system means fewer people in it. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not. If you're doing this as a hobby to keep busy, perhaps it's not such a good thing. But if the others are hacks who are reaming people just because they (the customers) don't know any better, well then, maybe it's not such a bad thing after all to depress prices.

    And only a little am I stirring the pot! :wink:

  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    Geographical too? Big city areas versus sparsely populated areas?
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    CanuckerGordy