Tuesday, April 11, 2017

DIY: A Product Review: Pex Plumbing Manifold - Building the In-Law Apartment


Some people have a finer appreciation for sculpture, impressionist paintings, theatrical works, literary masterpieces, and the like. They honor the writer, the painter, the musician, the potter, the poet for their creativity, courage, cleverness, or originality.
My husband enjoys a good song, sonnet, or sculpture with the best of them, but he doesn't subscribe to any overzealous adoration of any particular work of art....

Except this:

He is mesmerized by the beauty in a PEX schematic. If he could meet the guy/gal who installed this PEX manifold and shake his/her hand, I'm pretty sure he would swoon like a school girl.  And, in a way, I can see it. There really is beauty in order.

*photos sourced from pex-manifold.com
It's visually impressive.  But, what's the point? (that's what I said to him when he started his big "I think we need to do THIS PEX MANIFOLD for the apartment" speech).  He explained that the manifold was essentially an electrical panel - for plumbing. Giving each water source it's own valve would allow us to isolate leaks, pressure issues, and resolve any problems down the road without compromising the entire house's water supply. 
Okay, that sounds good, but is it necessary?
When you have a 3,000 square foot house that you are converting in to 2 homes, while 2 families are currently living in it - YES. THAT IS NECESSARY.  Why do I feel it is NECESSARY? 
Well, in case you missed our kitchen renovation adventure, we spent the first week in our new home with NO RUNNING WATER. And then several days with NO HOT WATER while our kitchen was being torn up and rebuilt.   So.....the idea of being able to isolate plumbing projects during construction without sacrificing the comfort of everyone involved is, in my humble opinion, NECESSARY!
Enter....the PEX manifold:

For a DIY project it's really ideal. No PVC glue. No elbows, Ts, or brittle piping. No soldering copper fittings.  Just a crimping tool and the valves.   We purchased the recessed boxes for the valves so that the appliances could sit flush against the wall. Everything hooked together very simply.  Even Our Curious Cowgirl and Our Sweet Songbird got to help:

No, really.
While Mr. Steady crawled under the house feeding red and blue tubing up through all of the pre-drilled holes, C.C. ran around fishing them out and pulling them to meet the box locations.
As far as project materials, it was a lot simpler than your typical pvc spread. The PEX tubing is flexible (within reason), so unless you have extreme turns (and have to use these), you can just snake it over, under, around, and through whatever obstacles you face - a big improvement from the angular process of cutting/gluing pvc or cutting/soldering copper at every turn. It also helps with water pressure because there are no breaks in the line.
Keep in mind, Mr. Steady is not a plumber. He had worked with PEX once before on a small DIY project back in Houston, but was otherwise inexperienced. But, in true Mr. Steady fashion, he researched, read, drooled over schematic pictures, measured and remeasured the layout on Sweet Home, and "learned the ropes" in theory for weeks before we started. And when it came time, he placed an order for the following items:

One of these

A few bags of these
An assortment of these

Also, new pipe cutters, extra fittings, braces and a few more particulars for our project.  I think we were all in for around $500.  Since Mr. Steady did all the labor himself, it was a heck of a deal. The PVC drain/waste lines seemed to cost a fortune by comparison.  I was very impressed with how efficiently the whole thing came together.
 And, the final product was a work of art all its own:

I mean, its no Rembrandt, but it's still a thing of beauty to us.

And after a day spent slithering under the house running tubing, Mr. Steady was glad to be able to finally resurface and get a look at his masterpiece.

A proud DIY moment for all.

Have you tried a PEX manifold? 
We'd love to hear your questions, thoughts, and comments!
From our home to yours,

*This post contains affiliate links. To learn more, please click here.


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