Residential plumbing and HVAC installers take note: you can pipe an entire home with the durability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness of PEX — for plumbing, fire sprinkler systems and radiant floor heating.
With more new homes plumbed with PEX than copper and CPVC combined, you’re probably already aware of the benefits of plumbing with PEX. However, you may not know about a newer, smarter way to install a PEX plumbing system that goes in faster, uses less materials, requires fewer connections and minimizes your liability.
This innovative design is called Logic plumbing.
The Logic approach uses the flexibility of PEX pipe to minimize connections and reduce potential leak points while also incorporating multiport tees located near fixture groupings to limit the amount of pipe and connections needed.
What’s a multiport tee, you ask? It’s essentially a bunch of tees all molded together to create one long tee with multiple outlets. This design greatly reduces the number of fittings and connections needed to plumb a home (think: reduced materials cost and labor time).
Here’s an example of how a multiport tee saves installation time and materials: a flow-through multiport tee with six outlets has eight connections (six connections for the ports, a main flow-through inlet and a main flow-through outlet). Six regular tees, on the other hand, have a whopping 18 connections. That’s an increase of more than double the connections — and double the installation time.
Best of all, multiport tees are not considered manifolds, so they can be installed behind walls without the need for an access panel. Double win, there!
For a Logic layout, a main line connects to a multiport tee with distribution lines going out from the multiport to provide water to all fixtures in a single or adjacent grouping. This design uses significantly less pipe than a home-run layout, with just a few more connections. Plus, it requires considerably fewer connections compared to a trunk-and-branch installation.
For example, a 2,300-square-foot, two-story home using a Logic design requires only 637 feet of pipe while a home-run system uses 1,515 feet of pipe. And, while it’s true a Logic installation uses slightly more connections than a home-run layout (59 vs. 48 in the 2,300-square-foot, two-story home example), the amount of pipe savings is significantly more beneficial with the labor and material savings you get with less pipe to install.
A Logic layout also installs much faster compared to a trunk-and-branch system due to the vast reduction in connections. With the two-story home example, a Logic layout uses a mere 16 fittings and 59 connections compared to a whopping 96 fittings and 165 connections for trunk and branch.
PEX multipurpose fire sprinkler systems
If you’re a licensed plumber who wants to add an additional service to your offering, check out PEX multipurpose fire sprinkler systems. These systems combine the fire sprinklers with a home’s cold-water plumbing. It’s genius!
Installation is remarkably easy — the sprinkler is essentially just another fixture to tie into the plumbing line. For most contractors who already install PEX plumbing systems and have the tools, knowledge and, most importantly, the relationships with the home builders, this is a slam dunk.
Depending on the jurisdiction, multipurpose systems typically don’t need check valves or backflow preventers, and because they combine with the potable plumbing, they don’t use antifreeze, so all those added costs are eliminated.
To get started in most jurisdictions, licensed plumbers just need the appropriate training and a quality design that meets the NFPA 13D standard requirements for home fire sprinkler systems.
If you’re interested in learning more, email me at email@example.com, and I can get you all the information you need to add this profitable new service to your business.
PEX hydronic radiant floor heating
There’s nothing like the comfort of radiant floor heating — ask anyone who has experienced it. And, homeowners will pay nicely for a quality radiant floor heating system, so there is definitely income potential if you can learn to do it right.
That said, with radiant floor heating, there’s a little more to learn. But, like fire sprinkler systems, starting with a proper design is key. If your design is wrong in the beginning, there’s not much you can do to fix the system once it’s installed.
Take advantage of the radiant design services many PEX manufacturers offer to guide you through the process. There are several design factors to know, including floor R-values, heat-loss calculations, pipe sizing, loop lengths, pump sizing, manifold types and more.
Once you learn the basics of radiant design and get a few small jobs under your belt, you have the potential to take your expertise to the next level with bigger, more profitable projects. But again, be sure to get the proper design and training before you tackle a radiant project. It will be well worth it in the long run.
Kim Bliss is the content development manager at Uponor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.