Saturday, October 17, 2015

Plumbing with Pex Tubing and Sharkbite Connectors is Big Time Fun

Ladies, prepare yourselves.  You're in for some real excitement with this post.

A couple people expressed some interest when I mentioned doing the outside plumbing with sharkbite fittings and pex tubing.  Seeing how I was blowing out the outside plumbing today, it was a good time to take some pics and put them up.

When we moved into this house, the outside water was connected after the water ran through the water conditioner.  There is a bypass on the conditioner but who wants to run downstairs and switch the bypass every time you want to water a plant?  So I tapped into the water line before it gets to conditioner.  There was already a separate shutoff valve in that section of pipe which makes it nice to be able to tun off the outside water and leave the inside alone.

I cut the copper pipe and soldered in a tee fitting and a short stub of pipe that I could slip the sharkbite fitting onto and that was it for soldering and copper.  In the next two pics you can see the tee fitting and the sharkbite fitting  and the pex tubing connected to that along with the shutoff valve.

 You just push the fitting onto the copper tubing after removing any burrs that may have been left from cutting it.  Then you just push the pex tubing into the fitting. This fitting goes from 3/4 inch at the copper to 1/2 inch for the pex tubing.  The 1/2 in pex tubing is less expensive than 3/4 even though both sizes are really cheap compared to copper pipe.  The tubing and fittings are rated for inside walls too and I used this stuff when I re-did the master shower.   Note that there are two types of tubing.  One is Ok for potable water and one is not.  The stuff I used for outside is not but I don't drink from the hoses anyway. That is worth considering for your project though.

And no I wasn't the one who put gobs of solder on that fitting at the top of the vertical section coming from the shutoff valve.

In this pic at the top left, you can see where the tubing is routed in one case to the outside water valve at the front of the house through the joist sitting on top of the cement wall, along with the disconnected copper that has an end plug pushed onto that little piece of copper going vertical that used to feed it.  Again no more soldering.  Cut the pipe, push the plug on. Voila.

In this pic you can see the pex tubing running now towards the back of the house and secured to the floor joist with a few little silver colored saddle clamps.  From here it goes into a drop ceiling in the next room and then through a hole that I drilled in the joist that sits on top of the concrete basement wall that the house sits on.  This is the only possible complication for your project if you don't have an easy path for the pex tubing to get outside.  In my case it was lift one of the drop ceiling panels out of the way and drill a hole in the joist to push the tubing through.  It exits into the garage which is nice because that's where the air compressor is.

In the next pics, you can see it exiting the basement and into the garage.  That's just a little 90 degree fitting and the tubing is just inside the wall by a half inch or so.  The next fitting is a tee into which is threaded an adapter fitting that alternately takes that square headed plug or the quick connect fitting for the air hose coming from the air compressor.  Just unscrew the plug and thread the quick connect fitting in its place when old man winter is on his way and the water needs to be blown out.

The tubing is pretty flexible so I secured it to the drywall with more of those saddle clamps to make sure it stays out of the way.

From in the garage it goes out the side of the garage courtesy of another hole drilled into the wall, then it runs under our back deck to both a water valve that serves two hoses and also runs to the back of the yard to supply water back there.

Here is the air compressor I use.  I think if you want to rig your plumbing up like this you need one with a large tank to really put lots of air downstream through the tubing, valves and hoses.  It is set to output 80 psi, though 40 psi would probably do just as well.

In these next exciting pics you can see the tubing connected to the water valve, via a sharkbite fitting, that is attached to the outside of the deck as well as another T fitting that creates another run headed to a valve and hose at the back of the yard.  (Imagine trying to do this with copper !)

And the valve and hose on the other side of the pool.  You can see the tubing coming up to attach to the back of the shutoff valve.

Blowing out the pipes just involves connecting the air compressor hose, then going around and turning on each valve one at a time until all the water has been pushed out of the tubing and hoses.

In closing, I have to say that weighing the convenience of three new water sources in the back yard areas against the small amount of effort and dollars was extremely well worth it.  It was almost fun to do.  For me, crawling under the deck to secure the tubing to the bottom was the worst part of it.


  1. The only really exciting thing for this lady to see was the autumn leaves in the last picture!!!
    But, I'm sure it's very good work!

    1. Z, I wish I had more autumn leaf pictures to share, but because of the warm dry weather for the most part, the leaves never got those bright colors. They seemed to go from green straight to dull yellow and brown. There is a maple across the street that usually has a week of really bright red huge leaves. Not this year. Darn that globals warmings monster.

  2. I'm awestruck at your ability to do a project like this, Kid. I used to be a good painter, and was great stripping old woodwork, sanding it down, filling it and making it look like new. I also loved to make repairs in old plaster, and could spackle with the best of them. I was good at planning renovations too, but WIRING and PLUMBING? –– NEVER! Though I could change switches and sockets, rewire lamps and hang chandeliers all right.

    Unfortunately, at this stage of the game I can barely manage to change a light bulb on the rare occasions when one burns out. ;-)

    Time is a thief in case you hadn't noticed. <[:^(

    1. FT, Yes time is a thief. I'm noticing. I can do drywall and paint but I don't care for that much anymore. My wife enjoys it though so I always let her have at those type of projects. I do the big stuff and she does the finish work.

      Wiring? Black wire, White wire, Ground wire. Change a circuit breaker gone bad. That and changing fixtures and such is all I get into as well. I'm no electrical engineer.

  3. In my neck of the woods, using PVC and Romex would land you in the hoosegow, and are dirty words to the unions around here. Nosiree Bob. According to the EBEW, Romex was invented by the devil just to take jobs away from the union brothers. EMT is the only way to route wires, everybody knows that. Romex is just pure evil, just ask the closest EBEW union steward, he'll set you straight.

    And don't get my union buddies started by showing them these pictures of PVC, Kid. They'll fly into a rage in a heart beat....

    1. Fredd, you made this project even more fun knowing I pissed off some union types. Especially Chicagoan union types ;-)

      Otherwise you're talkin greek man. EBEW? EMT? Sounds like someone had a bad meal and needed an Emergency Med Tech...


    2. IBEW, sorry (Intl Brotherood of Electrical Workers). EMT: metal conduit, code for every bit of 120 volt wiring run inside any dwelling in the City of Chicago.

    3. Fredd, I'm going to go do some more Romex ! Yea baby.

  4. Kid, what a fantastic post. I was one who expressed interest in this and have bookmarked for later consumption. Nicely done. Now tell the truth. How long did you spend shop vacc'ing the cobweds between the joists before snapping your photos?

    1. DeBlade. Thank you very much. Glad it may go to good use. Well, I did have my wife down there the last few days taking care of cobwebs and stuff.. And if you believe that.

      No, it was fairly clean when we moved in 10 years ago and has only gotten dirtier with my woodworking/ dust making down there. It's a pretty solid dry basement area. That area being the mechanicals room.

    2. DeBlade, one more note. You can easily remove the tubing from the fitting (Or the fitting from the copper) with a little plastic horseshoe shaped dealywhopper that just fits over the tubing. You then press it towards the fitting and there is a little collar (if you look close) that is springlike loaded and pushes into the fitting to release the tubing. In case you ever want to disconnect.

  5. There are a lot of different shut off valves out there some which may need to be removed and some which can stay pipe fittings