DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum > minimum tubing diameter

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02-26-2013, 02:34 AM
thomboz
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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minimum tubing diameter

I'm completely redoing the water in my place. The cold water heater now is two feet from the kitchen sink, same distance from main bathroom shower, 4 feet from main bathroom sink, and about 12 feet from master bath sink & shower.
I'll be using pex with a home run plan. I want to minimize the waste of hot water and the time it takes to get to fixtures (I know, I'm very close already!). The smaller diameter of the pex, the sooner hot water gets to the fixtures.
My question is, how small can I get till I loose pressure and can't get a good shower? And can I use smaller diameter at the sink than the shower as a sink requires less volume than a shower?
I can buy 3/8" pex locally, but can I go smaller?
Thanks,
ThomBoz

Last edited by thomboz; 02-26-2013 at 02:36 AM. Reason: add a word

02-26-2013, 05:45 AM
bud16415
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I’m no expert but I think I would pick a size and use it throughout. The savings on those short runs is going to be very minimal IMO. If you really want to know you can calculate the area of the inside of each tube and subtract to find the difference and then multiply by the length to get the water saved in cubic inches on the run. Then compute how many seconds of shower time you will gain by the smaller pipe size. I’m sure most people waste a few gallons of water just adjusting the temp before they get in the shower.

02-26-2013, 08:58 PM
thomboz
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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will 12' of 3/8" PEX give a good shower?

OK, I did the math. A foot of 3/4" pipe contains 3oz of water, a foot of 1/2 is 1.3oz. and 3/8 has .75 oz. Or look at it this way, it takes 46 feet of 3/4 pipe to hold a gallon of water, 91 feet of 1/2" and 175 feet of 3/8".
So 3/8" pipe will deliver hot water almost twice as fast as 1/2". That would be very nice when you think how often you use some faucets.
But if it gets there twice as fast, do I get half the flow? And will 12' of 3/8" PEX flow enough for a good shower?
Thanks,
ThomBoz

02-26-2013, 09:24 PM
nealtw
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Time might be a consideration if you were going 70 ft but? Go with the 1/2 inch so the next guy won't have to redo it.

02-27-2013, 10:58 AM
JoeD
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Small diameter = smaller volume which could seem like less pressure. I would not go less than 1/2". That is the standard size for most branch lines.

02-27-2013, 05:33 PM
thomboz
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 8
Standard?

Look, I post her because I do not want to do it the standard way, I stated that very clearly. I stated my parameters, adequate flow, quicker warm up, saving energy. These are all admirable goals. I understand 'standard', standard is the way to do it that works in most situations for most people. But it is not the best way for many situations. It does allow relatively ignorant people to do an adequate job. I am ignorant right now, but I'm trying to gain knowledge and understanding so I can end up with a superior outcome.
It seems so many people just want everyone else to not think or understand, don't rock the boat, and do it like everyone else. Engineers work hard to develop a system that will work in all situations. But no job is 'all situations'. I'm looking for one of those engineers to give a bit of info. When you tell me to do it the standard way, I know that will work, duh, but it won't get me what I want.
Now perhaps I can't get what I want, perhaps 3/8" on a 12' run will not get me an adequate shower, but I want someone to tell me that, and perhaps why.
Some of us are creative, looking for new and better ways of doing things, finding new and original solutions that are better for ourselves and the planet. Other people just want to be normal. If you want to be normal, then you will not have the answers I'm looking for.
Sincerely,
ThomBoz

02-27-2013, 06:37 PM
nealtw
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Point well taken: If I can, let's start over. If you look at older feeds for toilets and faucets, they were feed with 1/4" from the angle stop, so your smaller pipe likely won't make any difference. The shower is fed with 1/2 and many people run 5/8 to the head for more valume and then install water savers which kinda defeats that. I think your biggest problem will be to get a decent shower, you may have to modify the shower head.

02-27-2013, 08:00 PM
dthornton
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I'm no expert either, but I just had my house replumbed with PEX. I went with 3/4" for my shower. I get a very good flow to my shower AND, I don't get either scalded or freeze if somebody flushes the toilet at the same time. My wife can also run the washing machine while someone is in the shower and the water pressure doesn't suffer. Of course, it's your house and you can make it the way you want it, but i really think you'll be disappointed if you use the 3/8" tubing. Remember that even though water is a liquid, there is friction between the water and the walls of the tubing. The "middle" flows better, no matter what size the tubing. Therefore, if the "middle" is larger, the flow will be better. There also may be local codes that dictate what size tubing you must use.

02-27-2013, 11:54 PM
nealtw
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If he runs continues pipes with no extra fitting like elbows, he may gain on the friction thing. The pex fitting inside the pipe is what will interfere, maybe sharkbite fittings would be less intrusive. Would be easy enough to test at time of rough in. Just time a gallon. Then compare that to another shower with the flow rate set at the same time to see if it would be enough for a shower.

02-28-2013, 04:24 AM
thomboz
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 8
Success!

Thanks for all the chat, it motivated me to do an experiment, so I bought 20 bucks worth of fittings from the hardware store along with 12' of 3/8" PEX. I sweated a 'T' into the hot about a foot or so from the water heater, then connected the PEX, duct taped it to a joist above the shower (most of my walls are being relocated... I bought a total dump of a home and am redoing everything), installed a spare shower head, and took a shower... but with the old shower head still there.
Very nice, plenty of pressure. I took the shower head off and the flow thru the 3/8 alone was amazing. Keep in mind that the new shower head has no cold to it, so it was just barely too hot for me to tolerate... but the old shower with the original copper pipe was not! Apparently the copper gives gives off more heat than the PEX.
While I was hooking everything up, I remembered how much I hate those water saving shower heads, and that I had previously drilled out the orifice on mine, but even so it was so much smaller than 3/8".
Also, I let everything cool down, then put a pot under the PEX line to measure how much water flowed till it got hot... less than two cups, I'm ecstatic.
On a side note, does PEX have less internal friction than copper? I read that one of the advantages of copper over steel water pipe is that it is smoother inside and therefore won't attract mineral buildup.