Better living through plastic plumbing

It’s an odd feeling to look into the guts of your house. To see the secret space where the house’s invisible life carries on through water and drain pipes, air ducts, propane and electrical lines.

It’s like seeing a scan of your brain.  A little creepy, but fascinating.

As of today, our house has veins and arteries – blue and red pipes – with a control center where we can shut off each appliance and faucet individually. If the dishwasher leaks, I can shut off its line instead of cutting the water supply for the whole house.

It’s so cool – I’m sorry that Dad isn’t here to see it.

PEX manablock

We had the house replumbed with PEX flexible piping to fix a perpetual leak problem. Replumbing a house is a little like having brain surgery: vitally necessary, but long and hard to recover from.

The entire basement is now full of holes – 20 of them, in the walls and the ceiling. The wood walls in the kitchen and half-bath have gaping holes, too. Drywall pieces and white dust thickly coat every room where the holes are.

All these holes will have to be repaired. Meanwhile everything from both our offices is in boxes from the original water damage, except the electronics which now occupy half the living room. The other half of the living room is my temporary office and art studio.

But the house is now thoroughly modern.

PEX isn’t actually that new; it’s been around for more than four decades. It was first introduced in Europe in 1972.

Copper was the standard for a long time, but it was water-soluble flux used in soldering our copper joints that failed after just 15 years.

I know nothing is fail-proof, even PEX. But with a good plumber and low-chlorine water, I figure we’re good to go for awhile.

[By the way, I was happy to learn that Darren’s son, who was in the work crew today, might take over the business. Phew! A plumber for my future!]

Today’s penny is 2013. In that year, Uponor, the company that makes PEX, was named Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturers Alliance and also was among the Top 100 Workplaces named by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

March 12 2013

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