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Discussion Starter #1
I'm trying to decide on my plumbing tubing and connections. I did quite a few searches, and have not found a consolidated thread discussing the different plumbing options. My 159" has a lot of plumbing runs: full indoor shower, outdoor shower, galley, hot water heater, multiple water tanks.

My priorities IN ORDER:

1. NO LEAKS over time
2. Resistance to freeze damage
3. Ease of installation

Price is not a consideration. I found a post where Hein and several others over on the Sprinter Forum suggested Nylobrade with Eldon James PVDF Barb fittings for resistance against freeze damage.

PEX is also a consideration. I'm undecided between standard crimp fittings and Sharkbite/other quick connect style. Anyone care to comment on these?

If leaking under standard non-freezing everyday use is the top concern, which option would you pick? If you weigh in resistance to freeze damage, does another option come out on top?

Appreciate any insight into the topic!

Thanks,

Kipp
 

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I've used that braided reinforced PVC tubing but with some regular plastic barb fittings.

I've had the water system freeze twice now when I forgot to drain stuff and it was in the teens overnight. The tank was not frozen but the water in the lines and pump was, and I had no issues once things unfroze. No leaks, etc.

Having said that, I've been "winterizing" the system after trips by draining the fresh tank and just running the pump dry. There is still some water left in the lines/pump, but not enough to mess anything up. I've done that 5-6 other times with no issues.
 

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Pex with expansion fittings would probably be the best solution for freeze resistance, but the pump is going to be a weak point.

Here's a Youtube video showing the advantages.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Those expansion fittings are interesting. It seems at first look that the nylobrade would be best thanks to the ability to expand/contract, but I'm not sure about the plastic barb fittings...

Anyone else have a strong opinion one way or the other?
 

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I'd recommend PEX out of experience. I had a external 1/2" PEX line freeze up going into my tankless water heater that was mounted outside and had used the brass fittings and didn't have any leaks after I defrosted the line. Copper/brass would have split. I used the standard crimps and have no experience with the other crimps.
 

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I'd recommend PEX out of experience. I had a external 1/2" PEX line freeze up going into my tankless water heater that was mounted outside and had used the brass fittings and didn't have any leaks after I defrosted the line. Copper/brass would have split. I used the standard crimps and have no experience with the other crimps.
I assume by 'standard crimps' you mean the copper rings. My preference is to use the SS cinch clamps as one inexpensive tool will suffice for all common sizes. In addition they can be easily removed by cutting the 'nub' with an angle grinder. I used about 150 cinch clamps with brass fittings and 1/2" pex in my van conversion and have had no joint leaks. My plumbing system is designed with a fitting to attach an air hose for easy purging of the lines.

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Discussion Starter #8
I'd recommend PEX out of experience. I had a external 1/2" PEX line freeze up going into my tankless water heater that was mounted outside and had used the brass fittings and didn't have any leaks after I defrosted the line. Copper/brass would have split. I used the standard crimps and have no experience with the other crimps.
I assume by 'standard crimps' you mean the copper rings. My preference is to use the SS cinch clamps as one inexpensive tool will suffice for all common sizes. In addition they can be easily removed by cutting the 'nub' with an angle grinder. I used about 150 cinch clamps with brass fittings and 1/2" pex in my van conversion and have had no joint leaks. My plumbing system is designed with a fitting to attach an air hose for easy purging of the lines.
Because PEX is not very flexible vs nylobrade, there are obviously many many more fittings with PEX. 150 in a conversion seems like MANY potential areas to fail. With the flexibility of something like nylobrade, you would eliminate all of these potential areas of weakness. Would you guys still recommend PEX over something like nylobrade? Cheers
 

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Because PEX is not very flexible vs nylobrade, there are obviously many many more fittings with PEX. 150 in a conversion seems like MANY potential areas to fail. With the flexibility of something like nylobrade, you would eliminate all of these potential areas of weakness. Would you guys still recommend PEX over something like nylobrade? Cheers
To my mind it is the reliability of the system used which is important, not the number of fittings. Can't speak for nylobrade, but my eleven year old home including a solar thermal HW system is loaded with pex and I've yet to encounter a leak. I'd suggest insulating your van first, then installing all your plumbing and electrical so that it is accessible for inspection and maintenance (unlike most commercial RV's). Your plumbing is unlikely to leak once you have completed all your joints and pressure tested successively. But things can happen and you want to be able to make repairs or modifications in an expeditious manner.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
To my mind it is the reliability of the system used which is important, not the number of fittings. Can't speak for nylobrade, but my eleven year old home including a solar thermal HW system is loaded with pex and I've yet to encounter a leak. I'd suggest insulating your van first, then installing all your plumbing and electrical so that it is accessible for inspection and maintenance (unlike most commercial RV's). Your plumbing is unlikely to leak once you have completed all your joints and pressure tested successively. But things can happen and you want to be able to make repairs or modifications in an expeditious manner.
Yes, that's where I'm at. All plumbing runs will be accessible/inspectable. Your story is definitely a +1 for PEX!
 

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I assume by 'standard crimps' you mean the copper rings. My preference is to use the SS cinch clamps as one inexpensive tool will suffice for all common sizes. In addition they can be easily removed by cutting the 'nub' with an angle grinder. I used about 150 cinch clamps with brass fittings and 1/2" pex in my van conversion and have had no joint leaks. My plumbing system is designed with a fitting to attach an air hose for easy purging of the lines.

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Sorry there are multiple types of bands but I've only used the SS crimp bands and never touched the copper rings. The benefit of the SS clamps is that you can remove them fairly easy with either a good set of strong snips and grip or an angle grinder. As stated before, I can't vouch for any other materials other than the PEX. I know the van will have vibrations and would suggest that for most runs the PEX will be fine but for outdoor showers or fittings that will have more day to day bumps you may want to go with more flexible tubing. My popup camper used flexible tubing and standard screw driver pipe clamps on a swing top and held up for 20 years. I'd think you'll be fine as long as your crimps are clean and tight. You'll only have pressures up to 50 psi with most pumps and the pressure will only be between the pump and the sink/shower connections. Once power is shut off from the pump you could open the output to relieve the pressure.


I've used the FrostKing heat tape on my outside pipes and have had years of good experience with it. I haven't researched the power draw but they're thermostatically controlled which should help for consumption. You could always unplug it once you're out of freezing temps. If the van is going to sit for extended periods you would want to purge the lines to prevent more issues. You may want to install a drain port and an air input port similar to irrigation systems to flush the lines. All of this may be way overkill but planning is everything.


Good luck with the build.
 

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Pink RV antifreeze when stored is your friend.
 

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Hi,
I used pex and it works well.

Have had freeze incidents with our PM and the pex survived this ok. However, I did total a Shurflo pump -- they don't like to be frozen.

I used the copper ring crimp fitting mostly because I already had the crimper and fittings, but I think Sharkbites would also work and if you only have a small number of fittings, you would not have to buy the crimper if you don't have on already.

Interesting video on pex vs copper for freezing:


Gary
 

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Check with a local plumbing supplier as they make brackets to help hold a 90 degree bend which could reduce the number of connections. They are like a 3 or 4" radius so not a super tight bend. I'll try to post a pic of later tonight.


RD, I've heard of the pink antifreeze but hear that you shouldn't put it in the Fresh Water tank unless you do a complete drain and flush and flush and flush.


I've seen a kit that you can install in the line after the tank to push the solution in the lines but don't have first hand experience with it.
 

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Gotta love PEX

I replaced all of the copper supply lines in my three bedroom home with PEX 5 years ago. I used brass fittings with SS crimps. I had never done any PEX before. I was doing copper repairs until I got a slab leak. I have no plumbing experience. I had to redo a few joints because I’m getting old and got the crimps a little bit off and I wanted to be sure everything was done right. EZ peezy, no leaks ever. Personally I would not go with the copper crimps or the sharkbite or even the stretch and shrink method. I know a lot about steel and stainless is tough stuff. I would not use the plastic fittings either. If I do any water lines in my van they will be PEX.
 

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Check with a local plumbing supplier as they make brackets to help hold a 90 degree bend which could reduce the number of connections. They are like a 3 or 4" radius so not a super tight bend. I'll try to post a pic of later tonight. RD, I've heard of the pink antifreeze but hear that you shouldn't put it in the Fresh Water tank unless you do a complete drain and flush and flush and flush. I've seen a kit that you can install in the line after the tank to push the solution in the lines but don't have first hand experience with it.
I've used the bend supports in residential plumbing but wouldn't recommend them in the tight confines of an RV. The pink stuff works but I don't like the multiple rinses necessary to get rid of it (and the taste). A properly designed system with air fitting and drains for all critical lines will completely purge water from the system. Even the filter on the water pump doesn't have a trace of liquid after I've finished at about 40 psi. In the pic below notice the multiple turns that would be difficult with bend supports. I use plenty of clamps to hold everything securely in place. Notice the air hose fitting in an easy to access position. The blue hoses are from the engine cooling system for the 'motor aid' HWH.

Link for Pic
 

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Ten years ago I used PEX for a log cabin in northern Michigan. I don't recall what the fittings were called but they were all plastic and just slid in or out for that matter (maybe these are the "shark bite" fittings?) Two sinks, shower, hot water heater and toilet -- I pull several of them apart when performing annual winterizing and blow air through them and then put them back together in the spring.

Never any problem whatsoever.
 

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Hi,
I don't use the RV antifreeze for freeze protecting the RV plumbing.

I have a Shurflo diaphragm pump (as used on a lot of RVs). For freeze protection I...

- drain the fresh water tank (which is set up with a drain pipe through the floor and a valve).

- then disconnect the flex hose connecting the fresh water tank to the pump inlet.

- then run the pump (which is now sucking air at the inlet) with the sink faucet wide open until it is spitting mostly air instead of water.

- If you have multiple faucets, repeat for each faucet.

This gets most of the water out of the pump and the plumbing so that even if the remaining water freezes, its not enough to cause any problems.

Much easier than trying to fill all the plumbing with anitfreeze.

Have used this procedure on several past RVs with no problems.

If you have a water heater, I guess this would have to be handled in some way as well -- drain it?

Gary
 

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I suggest the RV antifreeze due to experience leaving my former VT home cold for 12 winters. Drain all lines and hot water heater, flush toilets, add antifreeze to all sink and bathroom traps including toilets. Walk away. A plumber nearby used to winterize 50 camps on Harveys Lake (where Jaques Cousteau learned to swim!) in a couple of days. He shut off and opened the drains on the hot water heaters, flushed the toilets and shut them off, connected a pump from a 55 gal tank of RV antifreeze to a hose bib, pumped in the pink stuff, went around and opened faucets, toilets, showers until he saw pink then walked away. Took about 15 minutes per building. It took < a couple gallons/camp. The stuff is non toxic, in fact it is a food coloring and ethanol solution, you know grain alcohol! We don’t cook or drink from our RV tank anyway. One advantage to this is all the valves and gaskets stay wet and don’t develop leaks over the long run. DAMHIK My van pluming is so simple I'd drain it, add antifreeze in the sink trap, suck a few ounces into my pump and walk away. If you have a taste or smell mix a cup of baking soda into a gallon of water and put it in your fresh water tank, pump it into the lines, wait a bit and flush with fresh water.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Tech-RV-Marine-Antifreeze/17179674#read-more
 

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Does anyone put their fresh water tank outside anymore? I know most want them inside to help them not freeze. But if I dont plan to camp in cold does it matter? I figure if I get a freezing night or two at home the tank would freeze if its inside or outside if your not inside heating the area. I guess space underneath and weight distribution becomes a bit trickier with all tanks on the underside.
 
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