When I gut the kitchen in a few weeks, all the house plumbing will be exposed for us to see. I’ll be able to view the condition of the pipes and see for myself how miserably the system was installed previously. I’m expecting to find a disaster behind the plaster and lathe, so we’re gearing up for replacing everything. Unfortunately, even though I live a mere 30 minutes from the Copper City (Rome, NY), copper is very expensive. It’s also difficult to install (propane torch and soldering). We’re going to be doing the bulk of the plumbing ourselves, so we’ve opted to go with the PEX system.
In a nutshell, PEX is like heavy-duty garden hose. You use the piping for your water supply system. The pipes come in lengths anywhere from 5′ to 1000 feet, so the only connections you’d ever have to make are at the supply in the basement and at the fixture shut off valve. No joints, elbows, or fittings in the walls. VERY nice. PEX has been used in Europe for over 30 years now. I first heard about it on This Old House about 10 years ago. I’m looking forward to using it. The Family Handyman has a good article about it, too.
Right now, I’m shopping around for supplies. The PEX piping is not terribly expensive (a fraction of the cost of copper!), but the crimping tool is $100 or more, and the fittings are rather pricey (it’s a good thing I don’t needs loads of fittings). I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to see that my favorite online store, Buy.com sells PEX supplies! There’s not a ton of PEX, but enough to make it worth my while, especially with the piping. Buy.com has everything! I used to go there once a week or so, to check out their great sales on electronics every week, but then I started to peruse the store for my household stuff, like vacuum cleaner bags, cleaning products, garden products, and hardware. They also have a ton of books on home improvement (and some great textbooks, too).
So I’m happy. I’ll be saving a ton of money on plumbing by doing it myself, and doing it with PEX. I have a lot of homework to do– right now, I’m learning about pipe diameters for optimal water pressure. I’ll have more on PEX as I go along, and definitely give my opinions about installing the system. You already know my opinion about Buy.com– they rock!