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Cracking PEX tubing

ccartnick
ccartnick Member Posts: 4
I added a new heating zone to my house about 9 years ago and recently noticed that the 3/4 PEX tubing is cracking in multiple locations. The product is FostaPEX 100psi @180F/[email protected] and is used for oil fired burner with baseboard heat. The cracks range from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inch long and have a black inner layer that is starting to bulge out. Is this a manufacturing defect, installation defect or just normal wear and tear? Currently there are no leaks. The pipes run above a finished ceiling for about 10 feet and I don't want to tear everything apart if I do not need to. Looking for some advice.

Thanks in advance!!
Chris
Brigitte
«1

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,917
    Doesn't sound good to me. You're not seeing what's buried and could be worse, or ready to blow.
    Better to start replacing it on your terms rather than in an emergency.
    Did it get overheated or freeze?
    steve
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    There is an outer aluminum and grey PE coating over the SDR 9 pex tube it's not really part of the structural strength, mainly an oxygen barrier. I've seen some splits at the end where the jacket is stripped. Got some pics.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,285
    Check to see if you have any sunlight touching on the area that shows the cracks. If you do, that is the reason for the cracks in the pipe. It's not meant to be exposed to any kind of sunlight,.

    Direct sunlight or through a window. Reflecting off a mirror etc.
    Derheatmeister
  • ccartnick
    ccartnick Member Posts: 4
    First off, you people are awesome!! Definitely no freezing, 68 degrees year round temperature where pipes are, also, little or no sunlight, it's in the basement. I don't believe it was overheated, I checked the water heater and it was set at 125 degrees which seems to be the normal temperature. I did touch the PIX tubing and it was really hot though, could not keep my hand on it for more than a few seconds without thinking I would burn myself.

    I added a couple of pictures below.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    On a domestic water system, not a hydronic heating?

    Certainly send the pics to Viega or a local rep.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Intplm.delta T
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,285
    @ccartnick . I agree with @hot_rod. That is not a "normal" looking crack if it hasn't froze as you say. Call:
    Viega customer service number. 1-800-976-9819.
    A very good company. They should be able to offer some answers.
    ccartnick
  • ccartnick
    ccartnick Member Posts: 4
    Update,

    Talked with Veiga representatives twice today and they told me that this "blistering" is normal, there is an inner sheath that is still holding pressure. My two plumber friends are a little skeptical, although there is not much I can do at this time. Even if there is a manufacturing issue, insurance will not cover it until there is water is leaking and damaging something.....sooo, I will wait and pray.

    Thank you all for your comments and advice, it has been very helpful in this stressful situation.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,863
    Some pipe will cost less than an insurance claim. Is it still covered it you knew about it?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    mattmia2 said:

    Some pipe will cost less than an insurance claim. Is it still covered it you knew about it?

    The manufacturer told them, hopefully in writing that it's normal and nothing to worry about.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ccartnick
    ccartnick Member Posts: 4
    Yes, I have it in writing directly from the manufacturer that it is normal so don't believe it would be an insurance issue in the future.
  • ronewold
    ronewold Member Posts: 5
    I'm not sure if the cracking has anything to do with temperature, but for what it's worth, I would guess that your water temp is higher than 125. A pipe at 125 is a pretty comfortable 'hot' feeling for most folks. Of course everybody is different, but I wouldn't say I felt like I was going to burn myself at 125. I just checked my fresh cup of coffee with my infrared thermometer gun, and I am holding a cup that is at 161. That's a bit hot, but I can drink it, and I keep switching hands. :smile:
  • Bruce L.
    Bruce L. Member Posts: 9
    I have first hand experience with this issue, if you would like to talk to me. Text me @ 978-815-7222.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    Bruce L. said:

    I have first hand experience with this issue, if you would like to talk to me. Text me @ 978-815-7222.

    If there's a serious issue shouldn't everyone know about it?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    MaxMercy
  • Fontana
    Fontana Member Posts: 25
    Yes for sure every one should learn. I have a 5/8 pex about 13 years old and max temp of water is 170°. I would hate thave to replace as some of it is real hard to get at. Seb.
    MaxMercy
  • JoeKansas
    JoeKansas Member Posts: 10
    You're worried about that Pex?

    I've still got hydronic heating plumbed with Polybutylene tubing!!!

    It's been in there since the late 1980's, and it's all in the crawlspace under my house! I was young and limber when I put that stuff in originally...now I can't hardly get down the basement steps ;) !

    All the easy to replace stuff in the basement where I can reach it, I've replaced with Pex.
    ethicalpaul
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    JoeKansas said:

    You're worried about that Pex?

    I've still got hydronic heating plumbed with Polybutylene tubing!!!

    It's been in there since the late 1980's, and it's all in the crawlspace under my house! I was young and limber when I put that stuff in originally...now I can't hardly get down the basement steps ;) !

    All the easy to replace stuff in the basement where I can reach it, I've replaced with Pex.

    The PB tube itself was not so much of an issue, the fittings and crimp rings were. It could very well outlast you :)

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    JoeKansas
  • JoeKansas
    JoeKansas Member Posts: 10
    Well, that's comforting.

    I only crimped the tubing onto brass fittings... no plastic fittings of any kind.

    Those crimpers weren't too easy to use up between floor joists. Pex expander tools.= MUCH EASIER!
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    JoeKansas said:

    Well, that's comforting.

    I only crimped the tubing onto brass fittings... no plastic fittings of any kind.

    Those crimpers weren't too easy to use up between floor joists. Pex expander tools.= MUCH EASIER!

    They do make close quarter crimpers, mine work in about a 6" space.

    Some of that PB had O2 barrier, I think Infloor did. The non barrier stuff should have some corrosion inhibitor added.

    What temperature are you running? low radiant temperature not too much issue with O2 ingress. Run 180F and it would really suck O2.

    There was some ASTM long term reliability testing done, the extrapolated 50 years at continuous 60°C operating temperatures.

    The Qest and Vanguard brand used a Shell resin, twice the stabilizer as some early resins. Shell suggested 88 years in potable, hot water 1 ppm free chlorine.

    An independent lab in 2011 took samples from an apartment after 16 years of use, that report is online somewhere. They tested the tube to the same multiple ASTM standards and concluded the tube was in excellent condition. A plumbing system H&C.

    Improper installations and bad fittings were its downfall.

    Granted the pex, PAP, PeRT tubes we use now benefited from the early PB pioneering.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,863
    1ppm chlorine? my water is something like 120 ppm chloride
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 678
    > @mattmia2 said:
    > 1ppm chlorine? my water is something like 120 ppm chloride

    Chloride is NaCl (salt), chlorine is Cl-. 120 ppm chlorine in the water would be way above disinfection levels needed
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    edited January 2020
    > @mattmia2 said:
    > 1ppm chlorine? my water is something like 120 ppm chloride

    Considering most swimming pools have 2-3 ppm I suspect you're mistaken.

    @hot_rod How does Uponor's Pex a hold up in real world use with chlorine in city water? I'm going to be recirculating 140f domestic HW with it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    mattmia2 said:

    1ppm chlorine? my water is something like 120 ppm chloride

    Good eye, I suspect that is a typo in the engineers report.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    > @hot_rod said:
    > (Quote)
    > Good eye, I suspect that is a typo in the engineers report.

    No, I suspect you are correct.
    My city water typically has 0.5 - 0.8 ppm chlorine.

    Swimming pools run 2-3 ppm typically.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Canucker
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    ChrisJ said:

    > @mattmia2 said:

    > 1ppm chlorine? my water is something like 120 ppm chloride



    Considering most swimming pools have 2-3 ppm I suspect you're mistaken.



    @hot_rod How does Uponor's Pex a hold up in real world use with chlorine in city water? I'm going to be recirculating 140f domestic HW with it.

    Early on there were issues with hot, circulated chlorinated water and pex. I believe all the reputable pex brands beefed up the formula. Certainly a difference between quality and margin pex.

    The numbers on the tube tell how the tube was tested and listed. Good info at the PPI website about pex testing and listing. For hot, chlorinated recirculated DHW I would use a top quality pex brand.

    All those numbers on the pex tube tell quite a story.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    > @hot_rod said:
    > (Quote)
    > Early on there were issues with hot, circulated chlorinated water and pex. I believe all the reputable pex brands beefed up the formula. Certainly a difference between quality and margin pex.
    >
    > The numbers on the tube tell how the tube was tested and listed. Good info at the PPI website about pex testing and listing. For hot, chlorinated recirculated DHW I would use a top quality pex brand.
    >
    > All those numbers on the pex tube tell quite a story.

    Yeah, but is it "beefed" enough for 50 years of real world use? That became my concern.

    All of the pex and fittings I've got sitting in boxes still are Uponor. Strongest chlorine rating and a poor UV rating from what I recall.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    I think Rehau and Uponor have that "5" rating.

    My concern is people cranking up water heater temperature to 140F and beyond for legionella protection.

    Isn't Chicago or Illinois proposing DHW maintained at 160F?!

    Looks like 140F is the current test number, what happens beyond that?

    If this frightens you, stick with copper and no-lead solder.

    All plastics have the potential to leach ingredients in my mind, PVC does PE does.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    > @hot_rod said:
    > I think Rehau and Uponor have that "5" rating.
    >
    > My concern is people cranking up water heater temperature to 140F and beyond for legionella protection.
    >
    > Isn't Chicago or Illinois proposing DHW maintained at 160F?!
    >
    > Looks like 140F is the current test number, what happens beyond that?
    >
    > If this frightens you, stick with copper and no-lead solder.
    >
    > All plastics have the potential to leach ingredients in my mind, PVC does PE does.

    Copper has its own issues though including flux that ends up in the pipe.

    When I looked into it I found no clear winner.

    Which is how and why I bought all the pex stuff to do the next project. Overall, it seemed the best for my use.

    But the chlorine kind of concerned me.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    ChrisJ said:

    > @hot_rod said:

    > I think Rehau and Uponor have that "5" rating.

    >

    > My concern is people cranking up water heater temperature to 140F and beyond for legionella protection.

    >

    > Isn't Chicago or Illinois proposing DHW maintained at 160F?!

    >

    > Looks like 140F is the current test number, what happens beyond that?

    >

    > If this frightens you, stick with copper and no-lead solder.

    >

    > All plastics have the potential to leach ingredients in my mind, PVC does PE does.



    Copper has its own issues though including flux that ends up in the pipe.



    When I looked into it I found no clear winner.



    Which is how and why I bought all the pex stuff to do the next project. Overall, it seemed the best for my use.



    But the chlorine kind of concerned me.

    You can easily get flux out of copper. Put a coil cleaner or Hercules Sizzle, potable approved, and strip every inch or tube and fitting to bright shinny copper inside if you want to take it that far
    . Within weeks you will get a coating inside the copper from the minerals in the water anyways, that is what the water is in contact with, not the copper wall necessarily.

    Or put a carbon filter on the whole home and strip the chlorine out. I hate the taste and smell of chlorine when I stay in hotels. You can't even make a good cup of tea or coffee with the Keurigs. Some of my fellow travelers take a portable water purifier, like the camping type with them for drinking water.

    The other unknown with public water is what exactly and how much chemical are they putting in? What if they change the type or blend someday, will the pex accommodate methyl ethyl pethal for example:)

    I think you are as safe as can be with current quality brand pex and current water treatment chemicals being used.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,863
    The water shows chlorides as 124 ppm average (I assume that is bufferd with metal ions like sodium and calcium) and .01-3.3 ppm chloramines which I think is residual disinfectant and disinfectant reaction products.

    https://www.a2gov.org/departments/water-treatment/PublishingImages/Pages/default/water_quality_report_2018.pdf
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    edited January 2020
    here is the SuperStor water spec. No warranty if the water exceeds any numbers. It's getting tough to get a no questions asked warranty on tanks and boilers.

    So no warranty on Ann Arbor water?

    Now even southern states are starting to dump chlorides on the roads for anti and deicers. Just the mention of a storm gets the chloride trucks rolling.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,863
    I've been meaning to ask about that. What do you do if it exceeds the spec? Does it help that the water is more basic than the spec? I suspect the different properties of the water work together. Some specs for other ss tanks are 150 ppm. chlorides. I think we've treated the water to make it less aggressive since the lead and copper rule came in to existence in the late 80's. It seems like stuff i took apart 20 years ago when I moved here looks worse than stuff I'm taking apart now.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    Yeah there is a ton to know about water, especially potable water. I’m far from an expert, but experts I know are concerned about rising chloride levels in well water, public and private

    I focus more on boiler water the basic tests required to assure all the mixed metals in today’s systems have a Quality fluid in and around them.

    Public water providers don’t much care about boilers, just assuring their water doesn’t kill you.

    Although some water issues cross over from potable to boiler concerns, like elevated chloride levels. My local Rhomar guru claims he has seen chlorides in well water samples sent in around 300! Water from around ag operations can have excessive levels also.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Lance
    Lance Member Posts: 144
    I would love to know, if this blistering is, "normal", and if I buy it new like this, is that also, "normal"? What universe has two normals? When does a crack in a pipe become normally made? Is the cause of this crack still unknown? If so, I'd call it a product not designed to live without cracking over time. Back to the engineers to fix the problem or to sales to sell something better.
    The philosopher in me states all things are possible, but my pragmatism states all things are not forever. And longevity of products seem to get shorter with age.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,285
    I have seen cracks on this tubing when it is uncoiled from a tight section of the coil. Is this the / a "normal"? And is this what is pictured above?
  • Brigitte
    Brigitte Member Posts: 0
    For all of you with cracks in the Viega Fostapex tubing used in radiant (and baseboard) heating systems- you're on your way to a catastrophic failure. It happened here to 16-year old tubing that catastrophically failed- actually it exploded and shook the house. Fire Department called. No heat in brutal cold until a fix could be made. $1,300 in quick repairs and many feet of tubing that is showing the same imminent risk of failure- split, yellowed and bulging. In cold climates even this tubing rated for 180 degrees doesn't hold up. Viega was contacted, the broken section sent to them and they claimed it was a steam surge. But they also noted evidence of stress caused by high heat. Everything installed to code. I will have to find a way to replace all of it with copper. The tubing carries a 25 year warranty. Viega is resisting responsibility because of the class action suits that could result- and did for the smaller diameter pex. Insurance won't cover it- the damage done from water in the basement was less than the $2,500 deductible. The heating technicians said they're starting to see more of this. The fostapex was first used around 2003. If you have the option to use copper for more money, use it. Don't use Fostapex. It will fail in heavy use applications.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,736
    Permit me to say a word about chlorine, chloramines, and chlorides. Chlorine and chloramines are added to public water supplies, typically aiming for a residual at the farther reaches of the system, to maintain a level of somewhere between 1 and 3 ppm at those outer reaches. They are there to protect you, the consumer, from bacterial and fungal infections and, to a much lesser extent, virus infections (virus is very hard to deactivate!). At those levels -- which, incidentally, are required -- they are quite harmless to you or most pets, although they are harmful to tropical fish and some plants. Some people are sensitive to the odour of chloramines (think the local YMCA pool, which has much higher levels -- for good reason). Chloramines are more stable, and so are often used in larger systems. Their presence -- or absence -- does not affect the corrosivity of the water.

    Chlorine and chloramines are never naturally present. They are both highly reactive with organic materials in the water, and disappear quite quickly.

    Someone up there mentioned trihalomethanes. These are decidedly not desirable. They are formed by the reaction of chlorine with precursor organic chemicals in the raw water supply. It is worth noting that these precursor organics are, themselves, not desirable either, however, and a water supply which has been contaminated with them either should not be in use at all or must be treated to remove them before much of anything else is done with the water.

    Chlorides are a different matter entirely. Chloride has no disinfecting value at all, and is never added deliberately to public drinking water. On the other hand, if it is present in the source water, most water purification systems will not alter its amount; only reverse osmosis or distillation (both expensive and energy intensive processes) can do that. Some water treatment processes for home use -- notably ion exchange water softening -- can add varying amounts of chloride to the water. They cannot reduce it.

    Chloride is related to corrosion. Some metals -- notably some stainless steels and copper -- are quite resistant. Some others -- some other stainless steel alloys but particularly aluminium -- are very sensitive to it, and are quickly attacked.

    Low levels of chloride are naturally present in most surface waters, but in small amounts. The major sources are deeper wells, which may pump from brackish aquifers; overpumping wells, particularly near the coasts, which can draw in brackish water or even sea water, and, for surface waters or wells near major highways, the various chlorides used for road de-icing.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    rick in Alaska
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    edited February 21
    @ChrisJ once again copper does not "have its own issues"

    The "issues" you belive in are not issues. Very very very little flux is necessary. A correctly soldered joint should flow ALL excess flux back out of the joint. The flux is also required by law to be able to be flushed with cold water with standardized flow rates in a certain amount of time. A standard proper flush even with cold water will scrub the flux from the system. Any flux on the outside of the pipe should be scrubbed by hand which is done regularly by any competent plumber. Although I do see a lot of green joints that were not wiped. Also a competent plumber would use L copper which is thick enough to last a 50 years with the help of the protective inner layer no problem. 

    You can have badly piped installations where someone is firing water at the bullhead of a tee for years, where every time any one uses any water in the house that bullhead gets pounded, that would be a badly designed system not an "issue" with copper.

    Your free to belive and use what you want, but potable water and copper are a good match, that includes recirculating lines. 
    So what you're saying is the problems Dan Holohan  and many many others had not to mention has been written about multiple times with copper piping developing many pinholes  was fake and the fault of flux not water quality?


    I guess dezincification of brass is also fake.

    When I post on a forum like this I do my best to be as accurate as I can.  Im sure I make mistakes and I know I'm not perfect.  But, I do try.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,649
    @DanHolohan has some insight into copper failures in homes that have nothing to do with flux.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,260
    My unpleasant experience with this: https://heatinghelp.com/blog/a-copper-mystery/
    Retired and loving it.
    ChrisJYoungplumber
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    @ChrisJ did you read that story and think to yourself "Man, copper really has problems. Not old copper, but 1990's copper. Dan's neighbors must be dying of copper."?

    If not, I don't see why you bring it up during the copper debates. 

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    YoungplumberCanucker
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