PEX Plumbing Failure

Today on the blog, I bring you a PSA about PEX plumbing and fittings.  While we were planning out walls and such for the basement sewing room and bathroom projects, my husband pointed out that the joints of our PEX waterlines looked odd.  They have white crusty, foamy looking stuff all over the brass fittings.  This seemed rather alarming, especially since our house is only three years old.

After a little research, my husband found that what we were seeing is called "dezincification" and there was a known problem with some brands of fittings and even some class action lawsuits because the parts can fail.  Basically, dezincification happens when water penetrates the surface of the brass and removes zinc, which in turn creates a honeycomb effect on the metal, thus weakening it and eventually causing failure.  Great.  

We decided that even though it is a major hit to the budget, it would be better to remove all the plumbing lines and replace them and all the fittings.  I'd much rather take the budget hit now than have everything fail and flood us out later.  We used NIBCO (R) HydraPure (R) bronze fittings because they have the least amount of dezincification we could find.  My husband also installed a MANABLOC so that we can turn on/off each line individually.  This has been especially helpful as we are replacing all the plumbing so that we could get some of the fixtures back up right away. Going without water is not fun, even when it's only for a day.  I would have been a terrible pioneer.

Here are some pictures of what we first noticed on the lines.

 Here are some shots of the insides of the pipes.  For reference, the pipes are all 1/2".

Here is a shot of some of the new plumbing lines and also the MANABLOC.  If you like to watch Mike Holmes on TV, chances are you've heard him talk about the MANABLOC before.
Do you notice the white PVC pipe with the red "u" shape on it?  That is our radon mitigation system.  I would highly suggest you have your home tested for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.  Many health departments will test your home for free or a minimal charge.  We were shocked that our house was well above the safe limit.   Radon is colorless and odorless.  Testing is the only way to find out if it is present.  If you're building a new home, installing a PVC vent pipe from the basement up through the roof is an inexpensive way to help mitigate the gas.   You can, of course, install one afterward but it will cost more than doing one upfront.  And then if you need to add the fan, like we did, expect that to be another $800 or so.  As long as our red "u" is uneven, our fan is working.  You can expect the fan to last five to 11 years.  The pipe and fan system is the only EPA-approved method for mitigation.  Paints and sealers DO NOT work.
You may be wondering why we didn't go back to the plumber who did the rough in.  That is a bit complicated.  First of all, most outfits only guarantee their work for a year, which we are past.  Second, we actually let them go before the entire job was done after they completely trashed the kids' bathroom cabinets, damaged an irreplaceable sink top, and bumped a hole in the finished wall all in a few hours, so we didn't part on good terms.  Sadly, these plumbers were recommended by our realtor.  She thought we were being too picky on things.  Thanks.  

I am extremely thankful that my husband is very talented and is able to do most anything our house requires.  Thankful for modern plumbing too, even when things go wrong.

Anyway, if you can afford it, I'd totally go the all-copper route. Ours is copper in the walls and under the sinks with PEX supply lines.  If you do have any or all PEX tubing, I'd suggest you check the fittings for dezincification.  Don't want any floods happening.


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  2. You did a wise thing. Had a failure in the house massive cost