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Old 04-25-2004, 05:27 PM   #1
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Plumbing lines - obsolete??

Hi,

I have been reading here for sometime now, and finally found something I could use some advise on.

I have a 1987 34ft Excella. We just bought it a few months back and we have completely redone the interior- (black cabinets, silver roof and walls, pergo, upolstery, etc..).

I hooked up the city water connection a few days back when we finally moved in. I just found a leak in the rear plumbing just aft of the hot water heater. I have turned off the city water and I am just using the water pump to see if it has to do with the regulator for city service. I don't think that is the issue. Also, there is a valve that says "normal" and "bypass" that is just aft of the water heater, does anyone know what this is for? I think this may be what is leaking. My owners manual doesn't have anything about this valve in it.

My main question is about the water lines. They are grey with what looks like metal clamps on the ends for connections. I have never seen this type of plumbing and someone told me that these lines have been outlawed and are illegal to sell now.

OK.......so........

Is this true? and If so, what type of plumbing lines can be used to fix a section of leaking pipe without replacing all the lines in the trailer?
Would PEX X be the replacement pipe?

Thanks for any recommendations!

Regards,

Jeremy
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:27 PM   #2
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What you have is polybutylene tubing, and it is a disaster. There are threads on this as well as PEX, which is an excellent replacement.

The "bypass" is just that, it is a series of valves (should be two, I think) that allows the hot water tank to be bypassed when pumping RV antifreeze through the system - for a savings of six (or possibly 10) gallons of the stuff. If you don't reset the valves to "normal", you will not get hot water.

Mark
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:28 PM   #3
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I just posed a thread about re-plumbing my water heater and the By-Pass kit.
In answer to your questions: The old grey poly pibes are not used anymore.
I think the PEX pipe and Flair-it fittings (or the PEX crimp fittings if you can afford the crimper) are the best for repair or replacement.

Roy
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:35 PM   #4
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Great, thanks for your answers.


I Turned off the city water and turned on the water pump and the leak stopped. It looks like the bypass valve is what is leaking, but only on city water.

So, maybe the city pressure regulator is failing and causing the valve to leak.
Or a combo of both. Guess I will need to call the airstream dealer for the regulator eh?

Thanks again!
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:40 PM   #5
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Those regulators are available from most any RV supplier. Many plumbing suppliers will have them as well.

Mark
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:42 PM   #6
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Ok.


Are the regulators all the same as far as how much pressure they allow to go into the plumbing? I looked on the unit and the ever-so-NOT-helpful-airstream manual with no mention of specs.
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:45 PM   #7
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You want something in the 40-45 lb psi range. I've never seen one for an RV offered outside that range anyway.

Mark
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:49 PM   #8
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Cool

Thanks for your help Mark!


Jeremy
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Old 04-25-2004, 10:44 PM   #9
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One more question. Is Pex interchangable with the polybute?


I have a neighbor that is a plumber and he said the fittings are not interchangable.

Is that correct?
If so, what is interchangable? He said I need to replace all the polybute with cpvc.
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Old 04-26-2004, 04:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by livin-n-tin
He said I need to replace all the polybute with cpvc.
Your well meaning neighbor is most likely a commercial residential plumber and they fix everything with CPVC or PVC. It lets them do quick repairs and move on to the next job. He means well, its just the wrong application in this case. In an RV application it is too rigid and will eventually fail and you will be right back were you are today.

Use the PEX materials. There are hand tighten Flare-It fittings available at RV centers and hardware centers that can be used for quick repairs until you are able to replumb everything with the crimped materials.
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by livin-n-tin
One more question. Is Pex interchangable with the polybute?

I have a neighbor that is a plumber and he said the fittings are not interchangable.

Yes and no. Polybutylene tubing will fit the Flair-it and Qest plastic fittings perfectly - BUT not the crimped fittings. The tubing thickness is different and the bands will not tighten correctly.

As far as Flair-it fittings go, I am perfectly happy to consider them a permanent repair. They are amazingly solid.

Mark
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:11 AM   #12
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I have found the Flair it and Qest plastic fittings to be expensive compared to the crimp type fittings. The crimp type are rated for behind the wall type of installations where the plastic screw on type is not, a chance of leaking I guess. This being said the cost of the crimper for the crimp fittings for PEX brings the cost about even. I have found a local store that rents the crimper for $5.00 per day not bad. I believe This brings the crimp type back to the front. That is what I've used. Check into a local crimper rental before committing to the screw on type, you will end up with a less expensive job rated for behind the wall.
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:19 AM   #13
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Li-n-Tin

I had the same problem and used the pump for the summer. The following year I hooked the camp ground water and it did not leak. (pfm) I didn't do anything to it.
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:26 AM   #14
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Great.

I am off to the plumbing store for Pex and flair it fittings.

Thanks guys!
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:33 AM   #15
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R&SZinser (Roy) made a great post yesterday with pictures showing a replumb. Used Flair-IT and PEX fittings.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ad.php?t=10998
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:44 AM   #16
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Thumbs up

That really helps. I thought about the braided hoses to make it easier, now I know it does.
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Old 04-26-2004, 12:17 PM   #17
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What you have is polybutylene tubing, and it is a disaster.
now. now, let's not go overboard!

Polybutelyne pipe, when used with acrylic fittings and copper compression rings did have some problems with long term chlorine exposure, such as in home plumbing on public water supplies. There was a class action lawsuit and the result made a lot of money for a lot of plumbers. But "disaster" is way overblown IMHO. Polybutelyne is a very good water system tubing for RV's.

PEX or cross linked polybutelyne is the replacement now used and often uses similar connection methods. For an RV, keeping a couple of Quest or Flair-it type connectors (and I have heard a rumor that there is another, even easier to use connector just out) makes for easy repairs in case of emergency. They will also work on copper since the tubing is measured by OD. (I haven't heard the caution about crimp type connections and fittings but that does make sense). What I like about the Flair-it type connectors is that I get a standard half inch pipe thread to work with so unions and faucet connections are standard stuff.

PEX is available in colors so you can color code your plumbing to help keep hot, cold, tank feed, supply, and bypass separated easier.
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Old 04-26-2004, 12:48 PM   #18
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No, I think I will stay with "disaster". The tubing is fine. Aluminum bands, not copper rings were used in the Airstreams. The connectors, tees, elbows, and fittings generally are frequently very brittle and will blow apart, even at reduced rv water pressures. If you remove a section of plumbing you may very well find that the fitting on one end can be broken only with heavy tools, while the one on the other end will snap in half using just the fingers on one hand.

As slow learner, four times I listened to the now familiar sound of exploding polybutylene connectors, followed by the rush of water before I took the trouble to go through the coach with PEX.

I will agree that it is a shame that the tubing itself has come to be associated with this problem. It actually seems to be very durable.

Mark
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Old 04-26-2004, 07:29 PM   #19
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Well, my plumbing supplier didn't have the correct sizes for me in the Flair it stuff or the pex, so I just went with brass compression fittings. Got most of it back together today, but I still need to fittings for the bypass valve to turn the water back on (supplier had to order).

Did I mention before that I hate doing plumbing....
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Old 04-27-2004, 12:00 PM   #20
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Mark said "As slow learner, four times I listened to the now familiar sound of exploding polybutylene connectors, followed by the rush of water before I took the trouble to go through the coach with PEX."
Mark, did you replace the pipes that run under the shower and across the coach to supply the kitchen faucets? I wish to do this, but I need to work out how to feed pipes across the coach, and through one bend to arrive at the place where the low-point drains are. Do you have any suggestions? I believe my trailer is the same layout as yours. Thanks. Nick.
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