Installing PEX Plumbing For Hot Water Heaters: A Debate

Author: VisionQuest Home Inspections, LLC | | Categories: Home Inspection , Home Inspection Company , Plumbing Inspection , Pre Listing Inspection

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As home inspectors, we examine several aspects that make up a house. These include the foundation, integrity of the walls, roof, floors, electricals, plumbing and more. With every home that we inspect, we learn new things about structural flaws, appliance issues, system inaccuracies, etc. Recently, we’ve discovered that when it comes to plumbing, not all professionals install PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) plumbing the same way.

Some plumbers say you can connect PEX directly to the hot water heater, and some say you must have a minimum of eighteen inches of metallic piping before attaching PEX. Most homeowners are not experts in plumbing and so they are unaware of which option is correct. This could mean that their plumbing is at risk and hefty repair expenses are to follow. 

To help you understand what we’re talking about and how both methods can affect you, the experts at VisionQuest Home Inspections, LLC has explained why they exist and which is the correct method to use when installing PEX plumbing.

Method A: It is safe to attach PEX plumbing directly to hot water heaters
Some plumbers state that it is safe and acceptable to attach PEX plumbing directly to the hot water heater. They justify it because the piping is rated up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Provided the hot water heater does not go above 180 degrees this may be perfectly fine. That said, the hottest water of a hot water tank collects at the top portion of the water heater and the thermostat is located at the bottom of the tank. So, if the thermostat is set for 120 degrees at the bottom of the tank, there is a good chance the water at the top of the tank is hotter.

Side B: Eighteen inches of metallic piping must be installed before connecting PEX piping
Some plumbers state that there are codes that must be followed for your protection. Disputes over the codes are always being argued as to whether or not they are being realistic. Regardless of what the code states, plumbers should follow the installation instructions set by the manufacturer of PEX piping. The manufacturer clearly states that there must be eighteen inches of metallic piping installed before connecting the PEX piping. If the manufacturer is going to warrant their product, it must be installed according to their guidelines. If the plumber installs it incorrectly, then the plumber has just voided the warranty.

Most individuals are not educated enough about plumbing to know whether or not a hot water heater is installed properly. Similarly, sellers of the house with a pool installed PEX plumbing may be selling their home without the slightest clue that this is a problem. The purchaser may also not be aware of it and in the long run, they will be stuck with this issue and the repair bill that eventually comes with it.

How do we help?
As a home inspection company, we are constantly learning about new trends and practices. Continuing our education is a vital part of our broad knowledge of construction and products found in a home. It helps us determine flaws and the best ways to fix them. Although home inspectors are not code enforcers, good inspectors are aware of standard building codes and practices. Because of this knowledge, we can point out these issues and protect you when looking to purchase existing houses.

Knowledge is power in our line of work and by arming you, the purchaser, with the knowledge we have, you gain the ability to negotiate with more power or authority.

Bottom line
Regardless of who is right or wrong, remember that when it comes to electrical and mechanical products, you must always follow the manufacturer’s recommended installation practice. The manufacturer spends a lot of time and money testing their products to ensure they are safe and reliable. They do this because they are here to stay in business. Most can not afford paying out losses and will not stay in business if they do have a major loss due to poor products. If they make the attempt to offer you a safe product and instructions for safe and effective usage, you must follow through. If not, you lose out on your product warranty and have to pay for replacements and repairs. For this reason, it is important that your plumber follows the instructions that the manufacturing company provides.

For more tips on the ideal standards for different installations within your home, reach out to us at VisionQuest Home Inspections, LLC. We are an experienced home inspection company in Hiram, GA, and an integral part of the real estate industry. We provide home inspection services to people interested in buying or selling houses. We also assist new homeowners (less than one year) coming up on their one-year builders’ warranty inspection. Moreover, we aid property investors and managers in deciding if an estate is worth investing in.

If you’d like more information about our services, please click here. To book our services, please click here


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