Mike Arr

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since Apr 07, 2016
Southeast PA, zone 6b
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Recent posts by Mike Arr

I think you can move their pen - if they don't want to go back in right away throw in a handful of millet and they'll pile in. If necessary, you can lock them in for a couple of weeks to recondition them.
1 week ago
Our guineas used to come up onto our deck 2-3 times per day, but I put up a "gate" and now they rarely go up there anymore. It's just a section of plastic lattice from the big box store and I put it up for our toddler, not the birds, but it tends to stop the guineas. While they can fly, they generally would get onto the deck by walking right up the steps, so the gate stops them. Now they have to fly up to the rail, and when the do that they tend to stay on the rail. Their poop goes off the edge or stays at the deck perimeter and is washed away when it rains. My wife often shoos them from the rail, but I let them go unless they get onto the deck. We make sure to not feed them near the deck and I think that helps. Not sure if a gate will work for your layout but it has worked well for us.
1 week ago
I ended up going all plastic on this project - all plastic water heater with a 100 year guarantee (10-12 years on elements), PEX manifold with a 10 year guarantee and PEX tubing which is supposed to have a 25 year life. The copper pipes started developing leaks around year 20. I have some sharkbite fittings in places but ended up getting the crimp tool because I like right angles and it's cheaper that way. I've replaced about 40% of the pipes and will have it 70% replaced by the end of the year. The remaining 30% of the pipes are behind drywall so I'll wait for a leak to develop before attacking those. It's just a matter of time - the plastic water heater has no anode rod so the pipes are now the only thing left to attack. Check out what 28 years of slightly acidic water can do to the inside of a copper pipe on the hot water side. While everything was torn apart I also added a sand separator and sediment filter. There was quite a bit of sludge in the copper pipes. Water tastes significantly better now. I'm glad I made the switch.
2 months ago
Super. Thanks for sharing your experience Travis.
8 months ago
Quick question for Travis and others that are not PEX-averse - I see the sharkbite fittings are around $10-15 each, whereas the same brass elbows and tees that are used with the crimp rings are less than 10% the cost. Do you think it's worth paying up for the sharkbite fittings? I'll need a few to tie into copper pipes that go up through the walls, but in places where I have access it seems that using the simple brass fittings and crimps will save a bundle.

Also - would you be willing to pay twice as much for a plastic lined water heater that is supposed to last 10 times as long?
8 months ago
Haha. I do lean Travis's way on this. Value my time highly. I think toxicity is everywhere and unavoidable so for me it really about managing incremental exposure. I like to brush my teeth, hard, with a little stick full of different plastics and I'm too lazy to change that. That said, I have great respect for you HUSP people and those tinkering with their environments to limit their toxic exposures and sharing their experiences with the rest of us - coming up with new ways to make that easier for more indifferent people like myself.

My plastic tolerances have changed over the years and I reserve the right to change my mind in the future. Right now I'm fine collecting tree sap in an HDPE bucket, but when I see those complex aquaponics systems full of plastic tanks and pipes I think it looks a little icky and it's not for me.

Similarly, I'm being convinced that PEX is most likely OK (for me) if I run the water for 30 seconds before drinking it, but when I see these "lifetime" non-metallic (all plastic and foam) water heaters - where a larger volume of 140 degree water is in contact with plastic 24/7 and I think that might go too far (for me, of course).
8 months ago
I was surprised to see that the articles above stated that the cost of a copper plumbing job could be 5x higher than a PEX job. Labor related to the ease of PEX installation must be a driving factor there. When looking just at materials based on local Home Despot prices I see the following:

200’ of Type-L copper (100’ of each 0.5” and 0.75”) at the HD would cost $374.90 or $299.90 at the bulk/contractor price available for these quantities. This compares to $77.21 for 200’ of Potable PEX.

However, 40 copper elbows and tees (10 of each size/type) would cost $29.89 where as the brass PEX fittings and 150 required crimp rings would cost $86.15. There are cheaper plastic fittings for PEX that I would not want to use.

Totals for the configurations above:
Type-L copper: $329.79
Type-M copper: $259.19
PEX: $163.36

I got the same PEX order down to $138.06 (shipping included) from an online PEX specialty company. The difference was mainly driven by the brass fittings which were 30% cheaper online versus the big box stores. The PEX prices were nearly identical.

Of course I would need the PEX tool and several of the more expensive PEX to copper fittings for places where I’m tying back copper pipes I don’t remove.

From a material perspective I think 50% cost savings realistic.

Toxicity and longevity is another issue.
8 months ago
Thanks James and Kevin - thanks! I never would have considered PEX but my copper pipes are corroding so my family is ingesting some kind of inorganic copper salt gick which may or may not be better than the organic PEX gick. Changing the water heater anode didn't fix the chemistry - I understand that some anodes can have more or less aluminum or magnesium - I just ordered from Kenmore/Sears by part number and maybe I ended up getting the wrong type. I suppose a special filter right after the well pump could do something. I get the blue water stains only where we run hot water, so one thing I considered was running red PEX for the hot water lines and keeping the cold lines copper (since we only drink from the cold lines). However - my pin hole leak is in a cold water line so there are likely several things going on.

As for cost - I'll have to do some plumbing replacement anyway - I have the one pin hole leak and I see green corrosion spots at many places on the outside of the pipes - particularly around joints. My next ceiling will give me full access, so I for now I can just replace some of the easy runs and most corroded joints and deal with other problems that arise later. The incremental cost is really the difference between copper/PEX joints and runs, the PEX tools and of course time (I'm assuming the PEX goes together faster, which may not be the case).

Anyway - still looking for things to consider. I think a water test is definitely in order and I'll do that before buying the water heater and PEX or copper.

BTW, this is the video that led me to change the anode rod 2 years ago. Interesting to see what is happening inside your copper pipes.

8 months ago
I'm having some plumbing issues and thinking about swapping out my copper pipes with PEX. Is there any permie consensus on PEX vs copper?

I generally go for the more traditional technologies, assuming that we don't know what we don't know about the longevity of or potential toxins the newer products - but I am seeing significant deterioration in my house's copper lines which are only 28 years old. My well water must be acidic. Where ever we use a lot of hot water - especially the shower, it stains blue and we must clean with vinegar every 2-3 weeks. I replaced the anode rod in our 10 year-old electric hot water heater to see if that would fix it, and it did not. The old anode rod was completely deteriorated (as in gone) and I assume it deposited anode rod debris through the pipes which become chunky bits of turbidity and catalysts for further reaction/deterioration of the copper. Two weeks ago I found my first pinhole leak near the water heater.

My basement is finished but I currently have the ceiling down because over the last year I had a flooded laundry room, and then a busted drain, and then a clogged drain. Fixing all of that wrecked the place, but I do now have access to 80% of the pipes. With my water heater at end of life and more pinhole leaks likely to develop I think it would make sense to handle some of this plumbing work before putting up a ceiling.

Any opinions on copper vs. PEX with respect to purity and cost? I understand the PEX tools can be a bit pricey but it's easy to work with when you get going. I can solder but I'm seeing lots of Ts and elbows down there in tight spots...

Thanks a bunch.
8 months ago
You can actually see the line on this picture. Some say that the deer not being able to see fishing line is what makes it effective because otherwise they just jump over it. It's too early for me to make a judgement on that but I'd like to see how this plays out. I'm walking around the perimeter every day to observe what is growing anyway, so I don't mind fixing a section of line every couple of weeks if necessary.

9 months ago