Innovations in the Art of Plumbing
Jul 10, 2017
For those of you who have watched for some time, you know I am a big fan of technology. I tune in to programs like “This Old House” to see what technology is doing to help me with my projects and repairs around the farm and home.
No area has seen more innovation that the lowly art of plumbing. When I began fooling around with water, we were just on the edge of PVC piping. I think back to the struggle of steel pipes - how hard it was to cut, thread and seal joints, not to mention the three-dimensional chess problem of how to route and connect rigid pipes in confined spaces.
Copper tubing in my hands risked burning my house down, or the frustration of flared connections and kinked tubing. When PVC made it a cut and glue operation, I rejoiced.
But PVC has its own issues. Not every joint gets glued perfectly. And while it was somewhat flexible, you still had to work in mostly straight lines. Done wrong it can be noisy due to heat expansion.
A new system has taken over - PEX, which stands for cross-linked polyethylene.
Now normally, I rejoice when technology takes a such giant leap forward, but to tell you the truth, I look back at the time and effort I spent with older piping materials and just want to cry.
PEX has reduced plumbing to virtual child's play. Not only is it easy to cut, it is very flexible. Remodeling a kitchen or bath will never be the same. But best of all, connections are made by simply pushing parts together - I am reminded of TinkerToys for all you who remember them.
But here's what made my lower lip tremble. Amateurs like me know full well we're going to make whopping errors in our planning and execution. We often do the same installation essentially twice or more.
PEX makes goofups nearly no fault. Just like having an undo button on your computer program, connections can be unmade and redone without a problem.
You can almost just trial and error every installation. It is this do-over feature that kinda worries me. For every advancement like PEX, there are still many things in life that are one-shot only.
We need to be sure we know which is which.